Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I wrote to you in April and suggested that the folks who illegally park in the right (or left) lane during rush hour should be fined $500 per occurrence.

Since writing that letter, I actually witnessed a police cruiser on E Street systematically pull up behind illegally parked folks and turn on a siren-type noise; those folks quickly moved away from the curb.

Why can't that be done daily for a month and repeated as necessary? Please beg those people you know in power to try it. The excuse that there are not enough police to do that does not fly.

Sheila Wing


A lot of the vehicles illegally parked in the curb lane during rush hours have no drivers. What good would a siren be? Also, the siren alert that sends some illegal parkers scurrying for cover simply reinforces the notion that there is no penalty for illegal parking. Police will warn, but not ticket. That encourages more violations.

What we need are higher fines (they were raised to $100 last year) and meticulous enforcement to get these scofflaws off the streets and help traffic move.

Yellow Ribbon Quagmire

In the Sept. 19 column, I noted that motorists seemed to have yellow decals in the shape of ribbons on the back of their vehicles. The decals said, "Support Our Troops." I asked where they could be obtained.

In response, readers suggested that these magnets (not decals) could be purchased at Hallmark or Total Crafts stores, or by logging on to, among others.

Reader Chris Bennett of Springfield wrote: "I hope your column does not encourage people to get these magnets.

"If you put one on your trunk, no troop will see it. No life will be saved. If someone does or does not have a magnet on their car, is the war closer to being won or lost?

"What purpose does empty, more-patriotic-than-thou symbolism serve?"

Dr. Gridlock responded: "I think you have to be stationed abroad to appreciate the meaning of a care package . . . or 'Support Our Troops' magnets, which our soldiers can see while on home leave. They are serving for you, Mr. Bennett. You can salute them, or not."

Among those commenting:

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Perhaps you can explain to your readers why political matters deserve mention in a column dedicated to traffic issues. Surely you must realize that, to many folks, the slogan "Support Our Troops" is code for "Support the War in Iraq." Or are you also willing to provide info on how to obtain a bumper sticker that reads "Support Our Troops: Bring Them Home"?

Ralph Blessing


The widespread appearance of "Support Our Troops" magnets on vehicles seemed to me a legitimate topic in a transportation column. However, I now feel I'm getting into my own quagmire on the subject, and am looking for an exit strategy.

Metro Defends Cleanliness

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

As a daily user of the Capitol South Station on the Blue/Orange Line, I am appalled at how dirty the outside escalators are. They are filthy, constantly breaking down and with lights burned out. Metro used to clean these, but they have stopped since last summer. Did they stop cleaning them to save money?

Davin Peterson


Many readers ask if budget cuts have affected Metro's ability to clean its rail cars and station areas. Metro says no and says it has a full complement of custodians who regularly clean cars and station areas.

Every three months, Metro samples 400 users about service and cleanliness and generally gets a grade of B, according to Steven Taubenkibel, a Metro spokesman.

"If riders have concerns on cleanliness issues, we encourage them to call us at 202-637-1328," Taubenkibel said.

Take Car, Train and Bus

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have never driven to FedEx Field and never will. I drive from Annandale to Metro's Addison Road-Seat Pleasant Station and take a shuttle bus to the stadium. Every once in a while I take Metro from the Dunn Loring-Merrifield Station to the Addison Road Station and transfer to a shuttle bus. Works for me.

When the shuttle started running to the stadium, there were three stations for pickup, and that distributed the crowd better. Now the shuttle serves only the Addison Road and Landover stations.

With the opening of the Morgan Boulevard and Largo Town Center stations on Dec. 18, it will be interesting to see if we can walk in to FedEx.

Whatever, hail to the Redskins, from a 50-year ticket holder.

George S. Parsons


Congratulations on figuring out the transportation system and commuting by Metrorail and bus.

I drove to the Dallas game on a Monday night. The trip from Braddock Road and the Beltway via Interstate 395 and D.C. Route 295 to Route 50 east to Landover Road took 21/2 hours of inching along. Never again!

The gradual increase in stadium capacity, now to 91,665, is going to cause more commuting difficulty for some patrons. I'm interested in other ways you folks have conquered the congestion.

Thwarting Tailgaters

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have to side with Don Juran [Dr. Gridlock, Sept. 23] in thinking that slowing down gradually is the best way to deal with tailgaters.

I know you suggest moving to the next lane on the right, but what does one do when she or he is tailgated in the right-hand lane?

That has happened to me a number of times, most often on Interstate 95, north of Baltimore. The apparent reason is that the driver is planning to make a right exit -- some five or 10 miles ahead. These people are lazy as well as stupid!

Each situation has to be judged individually, but generally, I think that allowing these maniacs -- as you aptly call them -- to run the rest of us off the road is counterproductive.

Carl Yaffe


We want to put the maniacs ahead of us as fast as possible. That's why I suggest moving to the right.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I usually pull over when it is safe and let tailgaters go by. After reading your Thursday column on the subject in Southern Maryland Extra, I told my husband, and he had occasion to try it that evening. It worked.

Mary Shifflette

Prince Frederick

Stay to the Right

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My boyfriend and I recently moved to the area from New York and northern New Jersey.

One thing we have had difficulty with is that drivers on Maryland highways completely ignore the fact that the left lane is for passing.

I am often stuck behind a driver in the left lane who is traveling at the same speed as the driver to his right, causing a back-up. In addition, Maryland drivers simply ride in the left lane when no one is in the right lane.

Although I am not a tailgater, it is frustrating when I wish to pass, but can't because drivers don't respect the passing rule.

Everyone complains about people weaving in and out of traffic, but if this rule were respected, the drivers wishing to pass would simply be in the left lane doing so while the slower drivers would be in the right lanes.

I don't condone aggressive driving, but I do believe people should set their pride aside and stay to the right unless they intend to pass.

Save us all the frustration of watching tailgaters, aggressive drivers and others weaving in and out of traffic to get around the car that won't get out of the way.

Linette Henry

Laurel, Anne Arundel County

Left-lane cruisers annoy plenty of drivers here. They should use the left lane for passing, then move right. If they did so, as you point out, there would be less lane-weaving and other dangerous maneuvering.

Is it any different in New York and New Jersey?

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.