Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Are there any Woodbridge slug lines that go to Springfield?

I am a recent college grad, ready to start my career, but I lost my driver's license. I need a convenient way to get to job interviews in the metro area, but it seems that they all go to either the Pentagon or downtown Washington.

Hal Nesbitt

Dale City

I looked at one resource, www.slug-lines.com, and didn't see a route between Woodbridge and Springfield. Most Woodbridge commuters are going to the Pentagon or downtown, as you discovered.

Another resource might be www.commuterconnections.org, or 800-745-RIDE, which can match you with other commuters of similar need. Good luck, and if other readers have suggestions, please share.

No Excuse for Rudeness

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I want to comment on the people who think they have the right to leave shopping carts where they want just because they have kids.

I have three small children, and here is what I try to do. First, I try to park next to a cart stall. Second, if I can't park next to the stall, I just load my groceries and then take the cart back with my kids in it and carry them back to the car.

It takes a few extra minutes, but it's better than leaving the kids in the car, or just being rude and leaving the cart there.

Valerie Denizard

Leesburg

Someday we might have attendants push the cart to our car, unload it and take it away. That happens in California. The attendants there even carry umbrellas.

Dangers of SUVs

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I would like very much to start a dialogue in your column regarding "High and Mighty: SUVs -- The World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way." The author documents reasons purchasers of SUVs are considered by the automotive industry to be egotistical, paranoid, gullible saps who are at the mercy of the millions of dollars spent on marketing.

The book presents crash data showing that SUVs are more hazardous to their occupants than are large automobiles, such as the Crown Victoria.

A huge percentage of the advertising revenue of The Washington Post Co. comes from the automotive industry and automotive dealers in this region.

Companies selling SUVs are killing people as surely as the tobacco industry, the asbestos industry and, very likely, the cell phone industry.

Dare we forget the legacy of the Pinto and the Corvair? Dare you take on this travesty?

Peter Whitehead

Alexandria

According to the book jacket, "High and Mighty" shows why SUVs:

* Are no safer for their occupants than cars.

* Have worse brakes than cars.

* Are especially poor choices for teenagers to drive.

* Have a rollover problem that goes far beyond the failures of Firestone tires on Ford Explorers.

The book is written by Keith Bradsher, formerly the New York Times bureau chief in Detroit.

My biggest complaint with SUVs is that their higher headlights strike other drivers at eye level and can cause temporary blindness. Also, from what I've seen on the rollover potential, I wouldn't want my teenager in one.

Your thoughts on SUVs?

Bicycle Commuting

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I commute by bicycle from Lee Highway near the Courthouse Metro stop to 20th and L streets NW. It takes less time than using Metro.

I take the Custis Trail (runs parallel to Interstate 66) across the Key Bridge. From the bridge, I enter tiny Francis Scott Key Park and walk my bike down the stairs and ramp to the street-side path along the C&O Canal. From there I ride until the trail ends and circle up to Pennsylvania Avenue near the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown. Then the dangerous, adrenaline-rush, life-threatening part of my commute begins.

What I usually do is make the slight left turn onto L Street, which is safer than trying to make it through the "Circle of Death" (Washington Circle).

Elissa David

Arlington

I commend you for an inexpensive commute that is also wonderful exercise.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In passing along help for bicyclists [Dr. Gridlock, March 25], you might have included a map or list of major bike routes, advice from cyclists and references to helpful groups such as the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and www.bikewashington.org.

Jack Cochrane

Bethesda

This column has never suffered from a lack of ideas from bicyclists. I'd like to hear your favorite resources.

Truck-Congested I-81

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Just a comment on traveling on Interstate 81 as an alternative to the Interstate 95 corridor. If you don't mind sharing the road with lots of 18-wheel trucks, then drive I-81. It is a four-lane divided highway north and south from where I get on it, at Interstate 66, to where it turns into Interstate 40.

For every 10 cars there are six trucks, which is not great, especially if the weather is not good. Rain is horrible, with the big trucks splashing their spray on you.

Ed White

Annandale

You are so right. I-81 is one of the most popular truck corridors in the country.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is negotiating with a private company, Star Solutions, to make improvements to the corridor that might include new, trucks-only lanes.

The shape, cost and funding of any new improvements, plus environmental studies, are matters of discussion at least until the end of this year.

Mid-Block Light a Pain

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The mid-block traffic light on 18th Street between K and L streets NW is a royal pain at 5:30 a.m., when there is no traffic emerging from the private parking garage.

Bill Brykczynski

Fairfax

A private concern bought its own traffic light from the city and stationed it mid-block so garage customers can more easily enter 18th Street. The problem you highlight is one more reason the city should not sell traffic lights.

Metro Emergencies

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I, too, think it is ridiculous to evacuate an entire Metro train and hold up trains all along the line to evacuate a sick passenger [Dr. Gridlock, April 4].

You say you don't want someone dragging you off the train. I don't think anyone would advocate "dragging" anyone off the train, but I see nothing wrong if Metro personnel assisted someone off in a method determined on a case-by-case basis.

Wendell House

Silver Spring

Metro evacuates the car and, in some cases, cleans the car before putting it back in service. Medical professionals handle the treatment of the ill passenger in the car.

I'd hate to be on the receiving end of treatment, and possibly injurious attention, from untrained Metro personnel.

Law on Right on Red

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Concerning your advice to give a simple, short toot for those not turning right on red where permitted [Dr. Gridlock, May 6]: I remember reading in your column a long time ago that right turn on red is permissible and not mandatory. In other words, one does not have to turn right on red but can wait for a green light or arrow.

As a result, whenever I am behind cars that are not turning right on red, I do not honk, even briefly, figuring that the driver might be uncomfortable making the turn.

What do law enforcement authorities advise for drivers behind cars that do not turn right on red where traffic permits such a turn?

Rany Simms

Fairfax Station

It's not a question of law, because there is no law that requires a vehicle to turn right on red. One law enforcement source I talked with said he usually gives a slight toot in case the motorist is daydreaming. That's what I do, too.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The law that permits a right turn on red does not require it. Only the driver at the intersection is in a position to determine whether the action is safe.

Honking at the lead vehicle usually does not help, because the most natural response is to look behind, not forward.

Barbara Peters

Annandale

Interstates Through Cities

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have been to most major cities in the country, and the one common feature is interstate highways through the middle of the cities. East to west and north to south. Washington and Baltimore are the only exceptions I am aware of.

I remember seeing the original layout of Interstate 95 and it went right through Washington, not around it. I say, put that highway back where it belongs. Also, connect Route 50 to Interstate 395 to help solve the east-to-west problem.

Gerry Ridgeway

Severna Park

I-95 was designed to go through the city, but city leaders decided they didn't want it. So the road money was transferred to the Metro system. Who is to say that was a bad trade?

Is it better to have cities compartmentalized into interstate grids, like Los Angeles, or simply cut in two, like Atlanta, where the state capital and the Martin Luther King monuments are only a few blocks away but are divided by an interstate highway?

There is little chance that I-95 will now be routed through the nation's capital.

Police Behavior

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

About 6:15 p.m. May 4, I was driving in stop-and-go traffic along Bladensburg Road toward New York Avenue in the District. At one point, as traffic slowed to a halt, the car ahead of me pulled through the intersection of Bladensburg Road and Rand Place NE, and I stopped before the intersection so as not to "block the box."

I looked in my rearview mirror to see where a honking horn was coming from and saw directly behind me a District police officer in his cruiser, gesturing as he honked that I should pull up so he could make the right turn onto Rand Place.

As traffic ahead of me had not moved, I put my hand out the window and pointed over the roof of my car to the prominently posted "Do Not Block the Intersection" sign. In response, he turned on the cruiser's flashing lights and blared the siren as he continued to gesture.

Luckily, at almost the same moment, traffic moved and I was able to pull ahead without having to ponder whether to stand on principle.

Two blocks later, the same cruiser pulled out in front of me while turning back onto Bladensburg Road from T Street and then turned into the gas station at Bladensburg Road and New York Avenue to stop at the convenience store there.

Some kind of doughnut emergency, I suspect, caused him to abuse his authority to beat a couple of blocks of traffic and encourage a law-abiding resident to break it.

Steve Daigler

Annapolis

Are you a confrontational driver? If a police officer gestures to move ahead, I'd do it pronto and save the lessons about not blocking the box.

I'd give police the benefit of the doubt. Assume that they are responding to something and that the apparent doughnut stop is really an officer looking for a suspect. That's my way of coping with police activities that seem not in character with police work.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

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