Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In your Jan. 9 column, you printed a letter from Jennifer Dunleavy describing how police contact drivers about littering but do not enforce the Smooth Operator program. Your response was, "Police say voluntary compliance is the only way to bring traffic violations under control."

I expected to see a firestorm of letters from readers protesting the police response but did not see any.

If voluntary compliance worked, we would have no speeders, no hit-and-runs, no traffic law infractions of any kind. Plus, obviously, if voluntary compliance worked, there would be no need for police to patrol our streets and highways. Are they asking to be terminated? This does not make any sense to me.

Christy Compton

Arlington

What police are saying is that there are so many traffic violators on the roads today that the only way to bring more order is through voluntary driver compliance with traffic laws.

My view is that you need a strong police presence to encourage that compliance. Without that police presence (and we don't have it), we're swamped with lawbreakers.

How to Exit

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Is there a direct exit from the Anacostia Freeway (D.C. 295 South) to Pennsylvania Avenue west over the Sousa Bridge? What is the best way to do this?

Eric Weingart

Arlington

There is no direct link.

You don't say whether you want to link to (a) the Southeast-Southwest Freeway or (b) Pennsylvania Avenue west.

If (a), stay on D.C. 295 to the Howard Road/Downtown exit. Turn right onto Howard Road, proceed one block, turn right again at the next traffic light. That will carry you onto the South Capitol Street Bridge, which connects with the Southeast-Southwest Freeway (Interstate 395).

If (b), take the East Capitol Street Bridge exit from D.C. 295, go around RFK Stadium onto Constitution Avenue, which will merge into Pennsylvania Avenue near the Capitol.

Give Monorails a Chance

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Monorail systems deserve serious consideration from regional planners across the United States as a way of providing clean, efficient and cost-effective public transportation options.

For some reason, a bias toward expensive and disruptive light and heavy-rail construction continues to hold sway among transportation decision makers.

The monorail under construction in Las Vegas and the Seattle monorail expansion initiative should help to dispel the myth among Americans that monorails are just amusement park rides.

The Web site www.monorails.org (which I am not affiliated with) has very useful facts about monorail systems throughout the world, links to existing and planned projects, comparisons with other transit systems and cool photos, too.

Here is a brief summary of just a few monorail benefits:

* Safety. It's almost impossible for monorail trains to derail, and unlike some light rail systems, monorail systems operated on exclusive elevated guideways prevent accidents with other vehicles.

* Cost. Among other things, expensive tunneling (subway) and right-of-way grade preparations (surface light rail) are eliminated. Many of the concrete support elements can be formed off-site, then quickly installed. Surrounding businesses, homes and traffic are significantly less affected during monorail construction. Businesses can keep running, and customers can still access them. Additionally, many monorail systems actually turn a profit once constructed. See this link: www.monorails.org/tMspages/MonoVs.html.

* Environment/aesthetics. Besides being nonpolluting, Monorail systems are known for legendary quietness, something that parks and zoos have always known.

Monorail systems can easily traverse varied topography without requiring massive grading modifications. Track and station designs can be adapted to a variety of styles. Many systems in even have lush gardens, paths and trees beneath the guideways. See this link: www.monorails.org/tMspages/enviro.html.

In short, monorails aren't a joke or a toy. They're serious transportation systems that move millions of people every day, more safely and at less cost to taxpayers than other transit systems.

When appropriate, I hope that you can help make the public aware of these benefits in your column in the future.

Bill Cook

Alexandria

Thanks for the information. I remain interested in this form of transportation. There is nowhere near the financial support to extend Metro to Dulles International Airport (a cost of $4 billion). I'm wondering what monorail can be built for.

A postscript: One reader concern that resonates with me is how to get people out of disabled trains. I'm not keen on a hook-and-ladder rescue. Comments?

No Lawbreaker Here

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I often return from my daughter's house in Alexandria in the late afternoon using Interstate 395 and entering the HOV lanes around the Landmark area, and exiting on Route 644 (Old Keene Mill Road in Springfield).

It was my understanding that as long as I exited at Route 644, this was a legal action. Your explanation of HOVs in Sunday's Post didn't mention this practice. Am I disobeying the rules? The entrance signs have never been very clear to me around Landmark, and it also makes it much simpler and safer to exit at Route 644.

Constance B. Knott

Springfield

You're okay. All vehicles are allowed on the barrier-divided southbound HOV lanes through an access near Edsall Road, just south of Landmark. An overhead sign should indicate that the HOV lanes are open to all traffic.

2-Seater Doesn't Fit in HOV-3

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I own a two-seater car and find myself driving on Interstate 95 many times during the rush hour commute. The signs all say the HOV-3 lanes are reserved for three or more people in a vehicle.

I cannot fit three people in my car, so my question to you is if I am at full occupancy with two people in my car, am I allowed to ride in the HOV lanes?

David Trygg

Lake Ridge

Nope.

D.C. Can Fine Md. Driver

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I live in Maryland, and my car is registered in Maryland. I was recently cited and fined there for not having a front license plate (it got mangled in a parking incident). In the meantime, I'm awaiting two new plates.

Just the other day, D.C. parking enforcers also cited me for not having a front license plate. Do they have the jurisdiction to fine me for a Maryland infraction? I find the whole thing ridiculous.

Dean Schleicher

Owings

Sorry, they do. I've been told the D.C. Parking Control aides have a list of all the states that require only one license plate. Maryland isn't one of them, and they are empowered to write the ticket.

Praise for Hybrids

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I purchased my Honda Civic Hybrid [gasoline-electric technology] in July, and it has truly changed my life. It used to be that when I left my home in Woodbridge at 8 a.m., I would arrive at my office downtown around 9:30 a.m. Now, with my Hybrid, I can use the HOV lanes, and I am in the office by 8:45 a.m. Similarly, if I leave my office by 5:15 p.m., I can be in my driveway by 6 p.m. I see my kids a lot more these days.

I love my Hybrid. It's a great little car, and I'm saving a bundle on gas. It's not an inexpensive vehicle, but is worth it for its many benefits. The car is a little more expensive to maintain because it takes special oil, but the manual only recommends changing it every 10,000 miles under my kind of driving conditions!

One of your readers raised a question about the July 1, 2004, expiration of the Hybrid HOV exemption in Virginia. I, too, am concerned about maintaining the investment I made in my Hybrid and the HOV exemption that was a significant factor in prompting that investment.

Hybrid owners need to work together to persuade the Virginia General Assembly to continue this exemption. With that in mind, I am offering to start a citizens group to approach the legislature on this issue.

The General Assembly will probably consider legislation in the early 2004 session. That leaves a year for Hybrid owners to make their case. Hybrid owners interested in participating in this effort can e-mail me at hybridonhov@comcast.net.

Todd Ketch

Woodbridge

I believe the General Assembly has already passed an extension of the hybrid exemption for HOV lanes to 2006. But your forming a lobby of hybrid owners seems like a good idea. More power in numbers.

Biking Works

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I've just switched to biking to work -- it's cheaper, faster and great exercise for my 10-minute ride between my Capitol Hill home and my downtown office.

I'm astounded, though, at how few drivers know that cyclists have the right to be on the road. Not a day goes by when I'm not nearly sideswiped by a car passing too close or honked at by some driver shouting, "Get off the road!"

Could you take a moment to remind your friendly driving readers that cyclists are required to ride on the road in downtown D.C. and that we have the right to take up a full lane?

Julie Eisenhardt

Washington

You've just done so. Again, with prohibitive costs of new roads and rail, we need to do everything possible to encourage bicycle commuting.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Sunday in the Metro section and Thursday in Alexandria Arlington Extra. You can write to Dr. Gridlock, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at drgridlock@washpost.com, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.