Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In response to "Hog-Wild Riders" [Dr. Gridlock, Sept. 23], I can offer this perspective from law enforcement.

Our regular police cruisers are no match for the type of motorcycles I believe your reader is commenting on. Sport motorcycles are extremely fast and maneuverable. The police are very cautious about engaging in any pursuit and weigh the decision to pursue against the violation committed, the highway conditions and the safety of the public and the police officer.

We have not, however, given up on attempting to apprehend these dangerous drivers. We have had great success with the use of our police helicopters, which follow these drivers from high above and eventually let the officers on the ground know where they end up.

In addition, we have experienced success in using unmarked cruisers to get close enough to record the license plate numbers so we can follow up without engaging in a chase.

When we do catch them -- and we are catching more and more as we perfect our strategy -- they at the very least face reckless driving charges, which can and often do result in jail time and a significant license suspension in Virginia.

The few sport motorcycle riders who choose to engage in this dangerous behavior on our roads and highways give the rest of the sport motorcycle riders a bad reputation.

Motorists can continue to report this activity to the police (#77 on a cell phone or 911), and we will do our best to catch them, keeping the safety of everyone in mind.

Capt. J.F. Bowman

Commander, Traffic Division

Fairfax County Police Department

Thank you, captain. It is good to know law enforcement is concerned about these high-speed, lane-weaving, reckless motorcycle operators.

I wonder if I could ask for an example of a recently cited violator(s), as well as the number of citations issued for 2004, and the disposition of their cases in court, if possible.

That would amplify your points.

Hybrids in HOV Lanes

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Are hybrid vehicles required by law to have the Clean Special Fuel/CF license plates to legally use HOV lanes on Interstate 66 inside the Beltway?

Steve Berto

Annandale

Yes. Those license plates qualify a vehicle for an exemption from HOV rules in Virginia.

A Voice of Authority

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I continue to be amazed at the planning/traffic/political situation in Virginia. It is the same in Chesterfield County, just south of Richmond, as it is in Northern Virginia, where I have lived for the past 17 months.

Let's see: Local politicians and planning staffs keep allowing developers to build and build. But it is the commonwealth that controls the roads. And we have a quasi-political entity without any revenue-producing authority that controls Metro.

We need an authority in the greater D.C. area similar to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, with the autonomy to act and the legal authority to raise revenue, probably through bonds.

And next year, when the General Assembly members and the governor are up for election, the upset Metro riders and people tired of gridlock need to show the political incumbents who got us into this mess the exit!

Larry Kelly

Alexandria

Further, every one of these county supervisors who have approved endless residential subdivisions while there is no road system to handle the extra traffic should be given the boot. It is about all a voter can do.

Develop Vienna Metro

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

This is my response to the proposed development around the Vienna Metro station. First, there is something that everyone here is overlooking. You cannot stop development in Northern Virginia, anywhere. So why not put the density around the Metro stations so people will ride the rail and not drive?

This really is a no-brainer. We pay Metro in subsidies and, by golly, they can add cars or we stop giving them funds. Period.

I am a native of Northern Virginia. I lived around the Vienna Metro all my life. I was raised on Fairlee Drive. We did not ask for the townhouses behind Maple Street and the condos and apartments behind Fairlee Drive. But they came and ruined the only quaint place where my family felt comfort and peace in Fairfax County.

With the development of this area and the neighborhood gone, use the space wisely. Promote mass transit, not Interstate 66 or Lee Highway.

The county will bring in much-needed revenue with the tax base generated from the assessments of homes around the Metro. Another point is that condos are likely to bring many single people, and that means no need for additional schools and other resources families might use. Make it a self-sustaining community that uses mass transit.

Fairfax cannot go back. We can never be a small town again, so use our space and resources wisely.

Anne Ney McCord

Fairfax

Fairfax does not gain by having eight residential towers at the Vienna station. The extra tax revenue will not pay for the services needed. They generally don't.

Metrorail on the Orange Line is jammed to capacity. So are the adjoining roads of Route 29, Route 123 and Nutley Street. Can you simply keep adding vehicles and riders by building up?

It would make sense if the road and Metro capacity were there to serve it. But it isn't, and there is no relief in sight.

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

Woodbridge

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.

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 www.magnetamerica.com, 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:

As a retired troop having been stationed abroad, what I would have preferred, rather than yellow ribbons, was the public's asking what the troops were actually dying for. That is real support.

You took a cheap shot at Chris Bennett. The troops in Iraq aren't serving for me.

Dawn Heverly Serrano

Lorton

That's too bad.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Please let me respond to Chris Bennett of Springfield, who asked what purpose is served by the yellow ribbon "Support Our Troops" magnets.

As the mother of a Marine captain now in Iraq on his third combat tour, let me say that every time I see the signs, my heart soars.

It means that someone in that car or van is supporting the wonderful young men and women serving our country in harm's way.

To Dr. Gridlock: Thank you for publicizing this great cause. To all the people who have those signs on their vehicles: Thank you!

And to Chris Bennett: From the tone of your letter, I doubt you will be putting a magnet on your car, but how about a donation to the USO?

Allison Lewis

Annandale

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

This doesn't really have anything to do with traffic, but since you raised the issue, your response to Chris Bennett was insulting.

I don't have, and don't intend to have, such a magnet on my car for essentially the same reason he expressed. Are you suggesting that Mr. Bennett and I therefore don't support the troops? That's insulting -- and stupid.

Grey Pash

Springfield

I could have done better on that response. Something like, "It's America; you can place that magnet on your vehicle or not," would probably have been better.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

As I read the letter this week from Chris Bennett, I felt anger and at the same time shame about the comments from a so-called American regarding our troops.

I was heartened as I read on to your response. While my reply likely would have been stronger and more to the point, I applauded your levelheaded comment.

As a veteran, I often encounter those who spit on the soldiers who so dearly defend the freedom these "citizens" enjoy. Thanks for so eloquently stating what other proud Americans felt after reading this letter.

Keri Robinson

Herndon

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 drgridlock@washpost.com, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening phone numbers.