Dear Dr. Gridlock:

All too frequently, when a D.C. resident writes to request advice, your reply is "move to the suburbs." Sadly, these are issues that frequently could be more easily resolved.

But because your own sensibility and preferences are so clearly suburban in nature, you either don't know how to address the issue in an educated or informed fashion or choose not to.

An increasing number of us choose not to live in a sterile, soulless suburb because of personal preferences and environmental concerns and/or because we do not wish to have four-hour commutes each day.

If you are unable to adequately respond to a city dweller's inquiries, either you should resign or we should have an alternative Gridlock columnist who is able to speak to our concerns.

Brian Manuel


I believe the items that have annoyed you involved one city dweller who got a $50 ticket for double parking while unloading groceries (with no nearby parking), and another who complained that the lack of parking in her Capitol Hill neighborhood was so severe she sometimes had to walk many blocks home at 2 a.m.

I suggested that these people investigate moving to a high-rise dwelling in the city -- or the close-in suburbs -- where there could be reserved parking.

If you have additional advice for these people, I welcome the contribution.

Obstacle Course

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I'd like to share an observation about my daily commute from Adams Morgan to Brookland. I travel neighborhood streets -- usually Harvard Street between 16th Street NW and Michigan Avenue NE, ending across from the Brookland Metro station.

Because of parked cars, there is sometimes only one open lane between the 13 traffic lights I have to negotiate each morning. That doesn't slow the lane-changing throttle jockeys who blast around cars in an effort to gain a few precious seconds.

Friday's commute was typical. A fellow in an old station wagon changed lanes 14 times in the two-mile stretch, while I stayed in the same lane. His position relative to my car when we parted company in front of Catholic University was one car ahead and one lane over.

For this "advantage," he drove like a crazy person, barging in and repeatedly cutting off other drivers.

I hope other city drivers will try the experiment and see how little is gained by treating your commute as an obstacle course.

Jim Stiegman


Well said.

A May, Not a Must

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Something else that might need posting at right-on-red intersections is the word may, which would hopefully take some emphasis off the assumed word must. Right on red should not be a requirement, but an option.

If a patient, mature, conscientious driver thinks some right-on-red situations are too risky, it should be his/her prerogative to opt out and wait for a green light. It would be helpful if a sign notified impatient drivers that one may turn right.

Gary Munday

West Laurel

You're right. Right on red is an option. Yours is a good suggestion.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

During the energy shortages of the 1970s, drivers were given the opportunity by law to turn right on red unless otherwise prohibited. But I believe that before turning on red, one is to stop to see if the turn can be made safely. Many drivers, particularly in the District and Maryland, make the turn at a red light but fail to stop.

I was rear-ended once by a woman while I was stopped at a red light and about to make a right turn. She said, "I thought you were going to turn."

Ernest W. Harris


Although some intersections permit a right turn on red, that is only after stopping. Some of the me-first motorists seem not to care. That can be dangerous.

All in One

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Is there a way on The Washington Post's Web site to merge all your questions and answers for the week into one column? I know you zone different ways for each of the Extras, but it would be nice on the online site to have a consolidated column so that I don't have to read through multiple versions.

Rick Pike

Charles County

Bless your heart. I've sent your request over to the people, and I'll get back to you with the answer.

A Better Place to Park

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In response to Steve Rothenberg's letter regarding parking space pilferers at Tysons Corner, I would like to suggest an option [Dr. Gridlock, May 13].

About two years ago, at Christmastime, an employee at one of the large department stores in the mall mentioned to me that rather than wait for a parking spot right in front of the store, which can be extremely frustrating, he heads up to the top floor of the parking garage, where he never has a problem finding a spot.

I've been doing it ever since, and it makes all the difference in the world.

Joseph E. Young


Less stress, too. Thank you for that tip.

Scooter Laws

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I'm fed up with the rising costs of Metro, plus the inconvenience of the hours and off-peak wait times for catching a train.

I commute daily from Takoma Park to Georgetown and am interested in obtaining a gasoline- powered motor scooter, like a Vespa.

Parking would be a lot easier, and the cost of gasoline these days makes driving a car too expensive for short trips. These motor scooters can get 90 miles per gallon.

What are the laws for licensing, tags/registration and such in Maryland?

Paul A. Foley

Takoma Park

Pretty simple. You don't need to register one or get a license plate, said Jeff Tosi, a spokesman for the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. You do need to have a Maryland driver's license or a moped driver's license.

Rising gasoline prices will encourage more of us to look to alternative means of travel. Maybe $5-a-gallon gas is the solution to our gridlock.

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, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Please include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers.