Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In response to Pat Julien of Sterling, who seems to think the Fairfax County government is out to make money on traffic tickets [Dr. Gridlock, Sept. 16]: The reason Fairfax County has four courtrooms operating is because all those people broke the law (and got caught).

If the public behaved within the law, none of those courtrooms would have a single traffic case.

Many millions of dollars would be saved because we wouldn't need those four courtrooms. Fewer police would be required, and almost no accidents would occur.

I find it incredible that there are so many bad drivers on our roads.

David Quante


Lane-Change Rite

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

To argue with one of your other readers, I want to point out that I was taught that the proper order was mirror, signal, head check when looking to change lanes.

Pam Divins


Sounds good to me. I wonder if most people do the head check (a backward glance to make sure the move-into lane is empty). I find it crucial.

Greenway 'Desert'

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In response to Cathy W. Lyons's complaint that the Greenway toll plaza backs up in prime rush hour, I agree [Dr. Gridlock, Sept. 16].

The "deserted road" reference in my letter of Aug. 26 was to the roadway inbound to that point. It is not a perfect system. However, the delay to get through the Greenway toll plaza at 8 a.m. is far less than the delays all the way inbound on Route 7 at every stoplight at that same hour.

I could not help but notice she did not even mention attempting this route, which would indicate to me that waiting a little bit to pay a toll after going 65 mph from Ashburn is still far more desirable than sitting on Route 7 east for 55 minutes.

I also doubt the one thin dime the toll went up this month is going to have much effect on most Loudoun County pocketbooks.

The Greenway authority could certainly improve things. Congestion could be alleviated with Smart Tag lanes that are easily reachable; now, we must wait in line with the cash toll-payers before we can reach the Smart Tag-only lanes.

Of course, there are also delays created by those who still cannot figure out Smart Tag-only means just that. Perhaps a hint: If you can't understand what the sign means, you probably don't qualify.

Kyle W. Thompson


Nissan Congestion

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Kudos to Victoria Neal for her well-written letter ["Nissan Pavilion Headaches," Dr. Gridlock, Aug. 26]. I moved to Gainesville in 1990. I have seen explosive growth in the area since that time, with virtually nothing having been done with Interstate 66 or Route 29 to improve traffic flow.

The state and Prince William County have both done a poor job of assessing, taxing and funding their citizens' needs. It is fortunate that my employer allows me to work a flexible schedule; otherwise I would have been forced to leave my home because of the traffic.

To allow Nissan Pavilion's construction without adequate transportation infrastructure in place was ludicrous.

I print a concert schedule and keep it in my car. On concert days, I am forced to leave work early or stay late.

The worst experience was a medical emergency with a child that required stitches just as a concert was ending. To sit in a car with a bleeding child only to finally get to the hospital -- which was full of injured/drunk concert-goers -- and wait half the night to be seen still infuriates me.

I support your idea to have the pavilion declared a public nuisance. In the interim, I also suggest to anyone who is forced to sit in that traffic to boycott the Nissan Motor Co.

Craig A. Roberts


If the pavilion affects your life in a positive way, by all means buy a Nissan. If the pavilion affects you negatively, then don't. Call it a referendum by automobile purchase.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I, too, have had it with Nissan Pavilion traffic. Last year we took our daughters to see the Dave Matthews Band, and we sat in our parking place for well over two hours after the concert before traffic began to move. It was a four-hour trip home -- to Great Falls! Inexcusable.

Wolf Trap doesn't have that problem after concerts; neither does Merriweather Post Pavilion nor RFK Stadium. That concert was our last at Nissan, and I'll bet there are many others who will never go there again.

Not only is this situation a nightmare for the concert-goers, it is awful for commuters and people who live even somewhat near Nissan.

I agree with your solution: Close this menace until the county and the owners of this facility can develop and build proper access.

Ellen M. Birch

Great Falls

Bicyclist's Plea

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

This responds to your column of Sept. 2 with the incongruous headline "Imperious Pedalers."

I am a longtime member (since 1974) of the Potomac Pedalers Touring Club (PPTC). Ten years ago and again last year, PPTC's chairman sent a letter to Montgomery County's director of public works. These letters requested on-road accommodation for the experienced adult cyclists who use MacArthur Boulevard.

Bicycle lanes, smooth paved shoulders or wider lanes would significantly improve safety for all road users while reducing maintenance costs for county taxpayers. Traffic volumes and speeds warrant those improvements.

Please join our petition for bicycle-friendly improvements to MacArthur Boulevard. Second, please help us spread the word that bicycles are legal vehicles and that bicyclists have the same rights and duties as all other on-road vehicle operators.

PPTC is a nonprofit educational, recreational and social organization for bicycling enthusiasts. Our 3,300 members lead approximately 1,500 bicycle tours each year on local roads. Several of our members live near MacArthur Boulevard and use it for bicycle commuting.

For more information about the Potomac Pedalers, see our Web site at

Bill Clarke

PPTC government affairs

chairman for Maryland


I've received a number of letters -- coming soon -- about MacArthur Boulevard bike lanes.

Cyclist-Driver Sharing

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have been reading your column regarding the problem of cyclist vs. motorist on Rock Creek Parkway for more than 10 years (the latest Sept. 16). The solution is obvious. The lanes are wide enough to accommodate cyclists and motorists. All that is needed is a little courtesy.

The cyclist traveling at 15 mph should not feel he has the right to stay in the middle of the lane and block cars averaging 25 mph.

On the other hand, the motorist should not blare his horn at the cyclist or aggressively lean his vehicle close to the bicycle, almost forcing him off the road. There is room for both traveling at a reasonable speed as long as one doesn't try to outmaneuver the other.

I am both cyclist and motorist on Rock Creek Parkway. When driving, I don't find it inconvenient to share the road with a cyclist as long as he stays to the right. When cycling, I prefer the off-highway trail. It is bumpier but safer.

Rock Creek Parkway is not an interstate. It would be nice if both cyclist and motorist would put aside their aggressive Washington attitude and enjoy the trees and other scenery on this off-highway road.

Richard Lampl


I'm not a bicyclist, but it seems that a motorist and a bicyclist sharing the same lane, side by side, is a bit too dangerous. One moment of distraction by the motorist could send the bicyclist flying.

So, since bicyclists/motorcyclists are to be treated as if they were a car/truck/van, why not yield the space ahead entirely to the cyclist already in it?

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 at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers.