The readers ask, the columnist answers.
From Selma Szychowicz of Hyattsville: "What do you think about the right-on-red law? I think the whole thing was for the motorists in the first place. Why not give pedestrians a little considerations?"
Most of the time, at most corners, right-on-red works fine, Selma. But problems arise whenever a pedestrian and a right-on-redding car try to occupy the same crosswalk at the same time.
Although the law says that motorists are supposed to give way to pedestrians during a right-on-red, I've seen it happen only once -- and that was because the pedestrian slapped his palm on the hood of the car and said, "Will you please wait a minute?"
I think right-on-red should be suspended during rush hours, everywhere, so that pedestrains can get an even break at the time of day when they're most numerous.
I think right-on-red signs should remind motorists to look not just to the left, for oncoming cars, but to the right, for pedestrians.
And I think right-on-red should not apply to buses and trucks. They're simply too big and too clumsy:
From Janis Levin of Bethesda: "I remember years ago there were plans for an Outer Beltway, about eight or ten miles outside the one we have now. Are they ever going to build it? Do you think they should?"
The Outer Beltway still appears on highway master plans for Maryland and Virginia, Janis, but that doesn't mean much. No land has been acquired, no plans have been drawn and no money has been appropriated for any phase of the project. It's a dead duck.
But I wouldn't be surprised to see a pulse return -- and I'd welcome it. Have you been to Germantown lately? Manassas? Laurel? They are becoming nearly as densely developed as the Bethesdas and Alexandrias. If thousands of people have spread to new communities outside the current Beltway, then new superhighways should certainly join them.
There's still enough open space to build an Outer Beltway without displacing families and destroying established neighborhoods. But the longer we wait, the less true that will be -- and the more expensive it will be to build the road once the decision is made.
From Katherine Wilson of Northeast, "I really like going to Bullets games out at the Capital Centre. but there are always a lot of empty seats. Why do you think the Bullets aren't drawing more fans?"
Because there is no way for anyone under the age of 16 to get to the arena unless someone drives him there, Katherine. And there is no way for most kids (or most parents) to afford $10 per ticket on a regular basis. As a result, Bullets crowds are becoming older, more suburban and more affluent.
I suppose it's good business to appeal to your richest, nearest customers. But I think it's shortsighted.
If I were the Bullets' management, I'd provide free buses from, say, five major intersections in the city, each leaving about two hours before tipoff. I'd also concentrate most of my promotion efforts on inner city kids between the ages of 6 and 16. They're the next generation of Bullets fans -- and very little has been done to hook them early.
From Anne Moran of Camp Springs: "Don't misunderstand this, but what do you look like? I ask because all the columnists in The Post used to have their pictures with their columns. Now none of them do. I read you every day, so I know you pretty well. But I feel something's missing."
Last time I asked Higher Authority about this one, Anne, I was told that pictures-beside-columns don't fit in with the larger graphic scheme of the newspaper. Maybe sometime, the brass said, but not soon.
Now, I could appeal this, but as the man said, you gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em, and this is one hand I've decided to fold. If you'd heard the way they said "not soon," you'd have folded, too.
In the meantime, press this information to your heart: I have salt-and-pepper hair, green eyes and a smile that some orthodontist got rich creating. The rest of my glorious mug will have to wait until "sometime."