Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My fiance and I are planning to move soon. I will be working in Annapolis, and his job is in Manassas.

Any suggestions on a location that would minimize commute times? In particular, what would traffic be like if we lived in Alexandria? Silver Spring?

Thanks so much for your help.

Caroline Miller


You might try Prince George's County. Each of you would be commuting against the rush-hour traffic flow. Your husband could connect with rail to Manassas.

I would not live in Alexandria, nice as it is, because housing is so expensive, or in Silver Spring, because traffic in Montgomery County is so bad.

Be Aware of Bikes

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Thanks for printing "Be Aware of Bikes" [Dr. Gridlock, May 22]. When I took the mandatory defensive driving class in high school, I learned that after parallel parking a vehicle, it is best for the driver to slide over to the passenger door to exit. Otherwise, be certain to check for passing traffic before opening the left door, as you are liable for anything that hits your door.

In elementary school bicycle safety class, I was taught to check every parked car I passed for occupants to ensure that a door would not open on me. For many years, that strategy worked. I was only "doored" once by a motorist, and his insurance readily paid for the damage.

These days, with headrests and tinted windows obstructing views, and with more motorists not checking for passing cyclists, it is no longer practicable to bike near vehicles.

I regret that I now must cycle out in the right lane and possibly annoy motorists.

Tim Bouquet


You're entitled to that lane. If that's where you feel safest, take it.

With You, Not the Car

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

A recent article in The Post about auto theft recommended not leaving one's vehicle registration card in the auto. I had understood that it was necessary to keep the registration with the auto to prove ownership. What do you advise?

Martha Mathis


Put it in your wallet or purse.

Taking On Delivery Trucks

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

A few months ago you asked readers to send in instances of illegal parking by United Parcel Service (UPS) delivery vehicles in the District.

Do you plan a follow-up with the results of that request?

Iolaire McFadden


This is it. I never received examples of illegal parking that included all the information needed for UPS headquarters in Atlanta to track down the violator. This is a good chance for motorists to do something about these lane-blockers.

I need the address of the alleged illegal parking, the number of the truck, the direction it is headed, and the time and date. If I get that information, I'll track your examples down and get back to you.

P.S.: I got the sense that UPS management would look for alternate parking spots for chronic violators brought to their attention.

A Curfew for Trucks?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

While other readers have been busily observing cheaters in the HOV lanes, I have been observing the regular lanes instead. And what strikes me as very odd (and correctible?) is the many out-of-state 18-wheelers going through our area during peak commuter hours.

Each truck takes up the space of three or four automobiles and emits clouds of sickening fumes. And the irony is that these drivers are paid by the mile, which makes the decision to time their trips to coincide with and exacerbate commuters' suffering doubly stupid.

I wonder if a meeting of the minds between representatives of the trucking industry and traffic and highway authorities could come up with some ideas that would benefit both the truck drivers and our local commuters.

If interstate truck traffic on interstate highways within 30 miles of the U.S. Capitol were restricted, say, to the hours between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., I think we'd see improvements immediately, without costly road improvements.

Just a thought.

Rita Mattia


As I understand it, the commercial life of our area requires access to businesses. To prohibit traffic for 12 hours a day sounds like too much of an impediment to the flow of commerce.

When East Is West

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Regarding the recent Chesapeake Bay Bridge update in your column, the Maryland Transportation Authority (MdTA) can reverse one of the three westbound lanes to serve heavier eastbound traffic at any time. When that is done, vehicles using the far left, eastbound toll booths must use the westbound bridge. One of those toll booths is dedicated to E-ZPass.

Driving eastbound over the westbound bridge is nerve-racking and dangerous, as both eastbound and westbound cars are traveling on the same three-lane bridge.

The dedicated E-ZPass booths are a great idea, but E-ZPass drivers who do not know about an upcoming lane change and do not want to use the westbound bridge are penalized.

Also, this approach is a disincentive to use this E-ZPass booth. MdTA must warn drivers approaching this booth that they will be forced to go over the westbound bridge. Why not have several dedicated booths for E-ZPass, as New York does at its bridge and tunnel approaches? That way the driver can use his/her discretion as to which bridge to use.

Joel Greenstein


The Chesapeake Bay Bridge has three booths for E-ZPass use: Nos. 1 and 2 on the left, and No. 9 on the right. That is out of a total of 11 lanes. A car passing through E-ZPass booth No. 9 would not normally be directed to use the westbound bridge in times of heavy eastbound traffic.

Currently, E-ZPass users do not stop at the bridge toll facility. They are proceeding in line at about 15 mph through the toll gates, according to Byron Johnston, MdTA spokesman.

As payment by electronic transponder increases in popularity, more E-ZPass booths will be added, Johnston said. To learn more about E-ZPass, log on to

For updates on congestion at the Bay Bridge, call 877-BAYSPAN, or log on to

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 or faxes at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers. Dr. Gridlock cannot take phone calls.