Dear Dr. Gridlock:

We weren't able to give out candy this Halloween as we were away. We drove home from the airport Halloween night, arriving about 9:45 p.m. Trick-or-treating appeared to be over.

The next morning, we found a flat tire on our car, which we had parked at the curb. We believe this was vandalism.

Could you ask if other people in the area have experienced tricks directed at cars on Halloween night?

Suzy McIntyre

Arlington

Yes. How about it, folks--tricks and treat?

Cpl. Justin McNall, spokesman for the Arlington County police, said he has searched records for the last several years and found no extraordinary crime activity on Halloween night. This past Halloween, he said, the most significant incidents reported were three instances of pumpkins thrown at residential doors. Two of them happened after 1 a.m.

Buzzed by Aggressive Bicyclist

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I don't often make it into Washington, but today, when I was approaching a red light, a bicyclist veered from the right lane, cut in front of me, and proceeded merrily through the red light. What do you think?

Gary Goldberg

Silver Spring

Welcome to Washington. Here, a state of traffic anarchy exists. Drivers routinely park illegally during rush hours, block intersections and run red lights because they know nothing will happen to them. Many bicyclists attack gridlock any way they can.

Until police restore order, it's best to look both ways before moving through an intersection on a green light.

What violations of the traffic laws do you readers see routinely and where? Cars or bicycles?

Trucks That Flash for No Reason

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Why do flatbed (tiltable) tow trucks transporting a disabled vehicle still operate their flashing yellow warning lights while in motion? They are not towing anything; they are carrying cargo.

Coming up alongside these rigs in Capital Beltway traffic on a dark, rainy night is distracting, possibly unsafe.

Are these types of tow trucks required to use their flashing yellow lights?

Hugh Pettis

Silver Spring

No. In Virginia and the District of Columbia, tow trucks are required to use their flashing yellow lights when towing a vehicle, but not when carrying one. In Maryland, tow trucks are not required to have yellow lights. Thanks to the AAA safety director, Norman Grimm, for this information.

Looking at License Plates Some of our readers had difficulty viewing the license plates on the Web site we mentioned in the column last week. Please note this is the correct address: http://danshiki.oit.gatech.edu/iadt3mk/. If you have any difficulties calling up this site, e-mail us, and we will send you the direct link.

Gritty and Gridlock-Free Dr. Gridlock continues the search for gridlock-free places to resettle or retire. Here is another nomination:

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I nominate the area around Twentynine Palms, Calif., as one of the most desirable remote locations for your escape from gridlock.

If you followed reports about the Oct. 16 earthquake here, you heard this desert area described as one of the most desolate places on earth. They ain't kidding. The unofficial town motto is, "It isn't Hell, but you can see it from here."

Residents like to pitch that it's two hours from everywhere--meaning the traffic nightmares of Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, etc.

Many residents choose to live in Twentynine Palms and commute to those same environs where they can experience the smog and traffic much like we enjoy in Washington.

I could go on and on about the virtues of that fair (and grit-covered city). I was the editor of the city newspaper and managed the chamber of commerce for a while.

Suffice it to say that while the Mojave Desert has its charms, wildlife and wide-open spaces, it doesn't have the "La Vida Loca" of the disgruntled government worker trying to navigate the Mixing Bowl in one of those horrendous, half-inch snowstorms on a Monday morning after yet another Redskins loss.

John D. Manley

Stafford County

I'd love to take in those wide-open, gridlock-free spaces--from around November to April. After that, it's time to move north. Maybe Alaska.

Dr. Gridlock's assistant, Jessica Medinger, contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Monday in the Metro section and Wednesday or Thursday in the Weekly and Extra sections. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, P.O. Box 3467, Fairfax, Va. 22038-3467, or e-mail him at drgridlock@washpost.com. The doctor's fax number is 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.