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SPECIAL REPORT: Putting Down Roots : The Times Poll : It Pays to Know Ways of Getting From A to B

April 25, 1991|NANCY SCHLESINGER

Although North County residents know their cars and byways--83% say they drive frequently--they aren't nearly as committed to other modes of transportation. When asked their opinion of the public transportation system, 43% said they were satisfied, 21% are dissatisfied and 31% said they never use it. --The Times Poll

So, here you are at Point A. However, being a consummate Californian, you feel the need to reach Point B.

In most of North County, there is more than one way to get from Point A to Point B. Some are good to know for those times your normal route is blocked, some offer a welcome change of scenery, and some are cheaper or shorter.

In North County, your options include not only the basic planes, trains and automobiles, but buses, shuttles, car pools, bicycles--and, if you really want a change of pace, the weather is usually just right for walking.

Here are some of the ways to get around North County:

KING OF THE ROAD

The private automobile. It's costly, not to mention environmentally unsound, clogging lungs and freeways alike, but we just can't seem to fall out of love with our cars.

Studies of local travel trends by the San Diego Assn. of Governments indicate that county residents own more cars, travel farther to work and make more trips in smaller groups than ever before--with as many as 100,000 trips per square mile being made daily in pockets of North County.

In addition to being air polluters and fuel users, cars are expensive to operate.

The American Automobile Assn. has calculated these figures to give you an idea just how expensive:

The car : A 3-year-old, American-made four-cylinder car bought new for $7,500. Financed, 20% down, 11% interest rate for four years. Driven 15,000 miles per year.

Daily Ownership Costs: Includes loan payment, insurance, tax, license, registration, depreciation, etc. $7.20.

Daily Operating Costs: Includes gas, oil, maintenance, tires. 6.1 cents per mile with an average commute of 41 miles: $2.50.

Daily Total Cost: $9.70

Monthly Total Cost: $204 (based on 21 working days)

SNEAKING AROUND

It's no news, but it's not good news either: Traffic snarls are a way of life along North County's major freeway corridors: Interstate 5, Interstate 15 and California 78.

Instead of cursing the brake lights, light out for the back roads. They meander a bit, but they'll get you there in a much better frame of mind.

When I-5 is Jammed: Go west, motorist. The coastal route, Old Highway 101, is fraught with stop signs through Del Mar, traffic lights in Solana Beach and more of the same through Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside, but it's also blessed with some of the most rewarding visuals this side of the Rockies. Use the leisurely pace to keep abreast of changes in shops, eateries and surf conditions.

A more easterly but circuitous route is found along that part of El Camino Real that snakes through the fringes of Rancho Santa Fe and the eastern boundaries of Del Mar.

A "Thomas Brothers Guide," is advised, as Ranch residents look askance at passers-through and may give a chilly reception to requests for directions. You'll pass assorted manses, millionaires and horse farms before returning to the real world via Encinitas Boulevard, Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Via de La Valle or Del Mar Heights road, as you choose.

The "other" El Camino Real, from Encinitas north to Oceanside, has evolved into something of a Miracle Mile punctuated with occasional open space, but it can also serve as an efficient north-south alternative to I-5, especially if you hit the green lights.

If I-15 Daunts You: Remember, before there was I-15, there was Old Highway 395. It' still there among the oaks and hills, shadowing the freeway as it leads past Lawrence Welk's Country Club Village, where it becomes Champagne Boulevard, then into Escondido, where it's known as Centre City Parkway.

For starting points and destinations south of Lake Hodges, the only real alternative is Black Mountain Road. It commences at Rancho Bernardo Road and intersects with Carmel Mountain Road before wending south through residential Rancho Penasquitos and Penasquitos Canyon, leading eventually to Miramar Road.

Hate 78? Savvy drivers use a number of routes, depending on itinerary. Between San Marcos and Encinitas, try Rancho Santa Fe Road to Olivenhain Road. When the flower crops are in bloom, Palomar Airport Road is a treat to the eye and a swift trip between Carlsbad and San Marcos. Between the coast and Escondido/Rancho Bernardo, there is Del Dios Highway, a curvaceous romp along Lake Hodges.

And Oceansiders and Vistans slip back and forth via Oceanside Boulevard-Bobier Drive, which also serves as a low-stress feeder toward Bonsall, Route 76 and Interstate 15.

RIDE SHARING

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