Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Learning to drive years ago in congested New Jersey where traffic circles continue to be extensively used, I would say Howard County has improved on the design, implementation and use of circles.

New Jersey's circles come in many designs, with what seems to be unique rules (and signs) for each one and placed in areas with very high traffic volume. (Imagine a circle and traffic light configuration in the middle of the Routes 29 and 175 interchange.)

The rules in Howard County are simple: yield to those already in the circle.

For those along Shaker Drive, if memory serves correctly, there are four "traffic calming devices," not circles, intended to keep the speed of through traffic reduced to a reasonable speed. Stop signs (not yield signs) are in place for the cul-de-sacs leading into these circles. I, for one, welcome most of the circles located throughout Howard County and am looking forward to more. It just takes time to adjust to them and caution, patience and awareness to navigate them.

Tom Renkevens

Laurel

Clear Handicap Spaces

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Is it stupidity, ignorance, disdain -- not giving a damn or just being lazy?

The majority of parking lots (shopping center, standalone business parking, apartment and townhouse subdivisions, etc.), a week since the last snowfall, still have their handicap parking spaces being used as the repository for snow removed from the major portions of the parking lots.

Paul D. Lane

Rockville

Complain to the shopping center owner or manager. Piles of snow don't have to be deposited on handicapped parking spaces .

A Step Solution

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I am writing to suggest that Metro provide access for higher volumes of people and lower repair costs by replacing short escalators with steps. This would give more room for riders to enter and exit the stations.

The extra room on steps, as opposed to escalators, could be very important in an emergency, especially with the power out. Putting in steps would also be a one-time expense, freeing up resources for elevator repair and the maintenance of long escalators.

Thomas Sigler

Vienna

Ironic that Metro has the most escalator-dependent subway system in the world because planners wanted to save customers the long trek up and down stairs.

Now, with the escalator system apparently broken indefinitely, it may be time to consider your proposal, Mr. Sigler. Tear out the short escalators and put in steps.

I'm not aware of a better proposal at the moment.

A Foggy Issue

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

It may be possible for some of your readers to answer the question of why do people drive in daytime traffic with their fog lights on when there is not a cloud in the sky.

In fact, two of these people I saw today were inside the parking garage at Landmark Mall.

George Bogart

Alexandria

I'd like to know. I'll bet that our accumulated aggravation over fog lights exceeds the benefits to drivers who own them. Now I've seen fog lights as big as headlights, meaning you get four big lights in the face instead of two. They might as well mount a searchlight on the roof.

Metro Can Do Better

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In the big snowstorm, the mayor of New York City told everyone to stay off the roads and take the subway. But here, Metro basically says, tough luck, sorry, we can't run normally in the snow.

I come from New York City and have lived in Boston and Toronto, all of which have older transit systems that seem to be able to run in bad weather.

Can't Metro learn anything from them? This is ridiculous.

Linda Lombardi

Silver Spring

Think Monorail

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Your column in the Jan. 23 Montgomery Extra talked about transportation proposals and solutions for Maryland and Virginia. Metrorail is expensive and slow to build, and buses are great to serve the downtown connection from Washington to Dulles International Airport, as one of your writers suggests.

But little attention by Metro and governments has been paid to elevated monobeam-monorail as a solution in crowded areas like the Purple Line and along and above Route 1 in both Maryland and Virginia.

Other cities around the world have built, are building and are planning to build elevated monorail systems because monorails have a long list of advantages over light rail and heavy rail.

Why is monorail good for other cities and not for the region? Visit the www.monorails.org and www.mvmi.org for more information.

G. Stanley Doore

Silver Spring

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Sunday in the Metro section and Thursday in Howard 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.