Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Is there a definitive schedule for Virginia adding E-ZPass to its toll system?
I notice that toll signs have been changed, and they look as if E-ZPass will be added to them. Will this occur soon?
Yes, Virginia will merge E-ZPass with the commonwealth's Smart Tag system Wednesday. They will be interchangeable.
That means that if you have an E-ZPass account, it will be good in Virginia. And if you have a Virginia Smart Tag account, it also will be good at the other E-ZPass tollgates in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and West Virginia.
New signs at Virginia tollgates will include both names, Smart Tag and E-ZPass, even though they have been merged into one account.
These systems allow a motorist to pass through tollgates without stopping. Tolls are deducted via electronic transponders in the vehicle, with automated deductions from the user's account. They are designed to reduce bottlenecks at toll plazas, especially on holidays.
Dr. Gridlock does not know whether Virginia will charge the $1-a-month administrative fee levied in some other states but not Maryland. You can sign up for an E-ZPass there through www.e-zpassmd.com. You need not be a resident to have a Maryland account.
For information about a Virginia account, log on to www.ezpassva.com, or call 877-762-7824.
Virginia's 300,000-plus Smart Tag users have been waiting for the day when their electronic passes would be accepted in other states. Let Dr. Gridlock know how this works out.
A Honk and a Wave
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Where I live, motorists often have to share the road with bicyclists. Sometimes, this is on winding, two-lane roads that have no shoulders.
I feel like I ought to alert the bicyclists somehow, but honking the horn might imply that they have no right to the road. I don't want to leave that impression.
Do you have any suggestions that would allow us to better coexist on the road?
Bicyclists should be accorded the same consideration as motorized vehicles. They have an equal right to the roads.
I checked with Eric Gilliland, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and he suggests that motorists give a quick toot (not leaning on the horn) to let the bicyclist know they are there.
A good bicyclist would then turn around to make eye contact with the driver or offer a hand signal to acknowledge him. Then the bicyclist can move over as far to the right as is safe to allow the motorist to pass.
For more information, call WABA at 202-628-2500, or send the organization e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What have been your experiences in road sharing? From the view of motorists and bicyclists?
My assistant, Diane Mattingly, will mark "Out of Town" on e-mails from, say, Richmond or the Eastern Shore. On this e-mail, she wrote, "Waaay Out of Town":
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I saw a picture of an American gas station, to illustrate the rise in gasoline prices. The price for gas was $2.03 a gallon. Also visible was a sign for cigarettes: $4.23 a pack.
Here in Slovakia, gasoline costs a little over $4 a gallon, while cigarettes are about $2 a pack.
So, basically, in the U.S., gasoline is half the price, and cigarettes twice the price, as here. Interesting, eh?
Maybe that's one reason there are so many drivers in the United States and so many smokers in Europe.
Thanks for your Good Samaritan stories for my Thanksgiving column. My faith in our citizens is restored. Please keep the stories coming.
Dr. Gridlock will host an online chat again from 1 to 2 p.m. Monday. Log on to www.washingtonpost.com/liveonline with your questions and comments.
Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.
You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers e-mails at email@example.com or faxes at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.