Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Among the more egregious examples of unwarranted special privileges is the parking situation in the 8500 block of Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase. I think this is the only stretch of Connecticut Avenue within Maryland where parking is allowed.

The marked area, less than a block long, serves five small businesses. One has its own off-street parking, and all are well served by convenient access from Connecticut Avenue to a large, free parking area behind the buildings.

Traffic approaches this area over a slight rise high enough to block a driver's view, and that invariably results in last-minute, intemperate and dangerous merge efforts.

In view of the availability of ample free parking, there is no need for this hindrance to traffic, which is heavy throughout the day.

A few people get to save a few steps, but that's too high a price to pay for the inconvenience and delay suffered by the majority. Can this unnecessary roadblock be evaluated for elimination?

Eugene G. Kovach

Chevy Chase

You can ask for a review by writing to the Maryland State Highway Administration, 9300 Kenilworth Ave., Greenbelt, Md. 20770, attention Traffic Department. You will get a response, MSHA spokesman Chuck Gischlar said. Be sure to make your points about ample off-street parking for the businesses in the block.

Laggards Not Tolerated

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I have no problem stopping for a school bus that is discharging or loading kids; it is the law. I do, however, have a problem with the kids. On my way to work, I have had to stop for a school bus, and the kids just take their sweet time walking to the bus.

On most occasions in the morning when they are loading the buses, the kids just saunter toward the bus as if they have all the time in the world, not caring about the drivers they are delaying. After a few minutes of this insanity, I find the car horn on the steering wheel! Enough is enough.

I think the school system should educate kids to be more considerate of those they are inconveniencing. After all, assuming that a motorist doesn't run them over out of anger, they will one day be behind the wheel of a car on their way to work.

James Evans

Silver Spring

If a stopped school bus is using its flashing red lights, motorists have to stop. If the bus is slowing, flashing yellow lights signal caution. I'm not sure what the status of the bus is when you are encountering the described loafers.

I would say generally that you should respect their loading and unloading process, even if it seems slow to you, and the students, of course, should be mindful of traffic needs.

If this is a constant problem, taking another route might make sense.

A Lesson From Paris

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I recently had the good fortune to spend a week in Paris and used its Metro frequently. Their solution to seating near the doors seemed quite intelligent.

There were eight hinged seats near the doors that were used when the car was not crowded. Then, when a large group entered, the people on those hinged seats stood up, making room for the other passengers.

When it became less crowded, they sat back down. It worked well and provided flexibility within the cars.

Cathy D. Knepper


Spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said Metro considered the Paris model but decided not to use it. Seems like it might have been useful here.

Relief in Sight

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

What is going on with the never-ending construction on North Capitol Street north of Michigan Avenue? Will it ever be over? The multiple unpredictable lane changes are really confusing and are not well marked in advance.

Allan Glass


The project should be completed by the end of the summer.

The city began the 18-month reconstruction of North Capitol Street, from Michigan Avenue to Harewood Road NE, in December 2003. It is on schedule, District Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Rice said.

The project includes resurfacing; new sidewalks, curbs, gutters and streetlights; and the reconstruction of two bridges.

Free Meter Parking?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

On 25th Street NW in the District on a recent day, around 6 p.m., I watched a man park in a metered spot, place a plastic bag over the meter and proceed into a building. He was in the building for at least 15 minutes.

I had many thoughts about how he was trying to trick parking enforcement. Then I wondered whether he was a food delivery person and this was an acceptable means of identifying himself to any potential ticket writers.

Do you have any insight?

Ryan Grover


I've never heard of this and neither has Bill Rice, spokesman for the District Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over parking meters.

Does anyone else have any thoughts?

Police and Parking

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Gallery Place during the evening rush hour seems to be the new congregating corner for police, who park anywhere they like, anytime they like. We recently saw four of them park in front of Legal Sea Foods, a location that you and I would be towed from, and go over to Chipotle.

I have seen police motorcycles parked on the sidewalk in front of Starbucks.

I regularly see Metro Transit Police cars parked at bus stops, D.C. police parked in front of fire hydrants, and police from the U.S. Mint parked alongside clearly marked yellow curbs.

I think people might be less enraged about parking enforcement if police throughout the city made at least a minimal attempt to comply with the laws we all have to follow. They can park at a meter with impunity; no one will ever ticket them for that. But do they really have to block traffic?

I challenge anyone in charge to visit either Gallery Place or Capitol Hill any evening at rush hour. They'll see police equipment blocking traffic.

Vicki Sullivan


Police officers responding to a crime park where they can. But when not responding to a call or while off duty, they are supposed to obey traffic regulations. That's what they say, anyway.

Let's try this: You write them up. Get the car or scooter number and send it to me along with the date, time, address and details of improper parking. I will ask police to investigate.

Eating on Metro

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Wow! People are so afraid that they fear speaking to eaters on the subway [Dr. Gridlock, June 23]. When I see Metro riders eating or drinking and I am near them, I always tell them that is forbidden.

Most are tourists who immediately put the food away. No one has ever told me to mind my own business or has gotten nasty. Quite the opposite: They thank me.

I always mention the incident of the young girl who got arrested for eating french fries a few years ago.

In defense of innocent eaters, Metro does very little in providing large signs for all to see easily. On the ends of the trains there's a small sign advising what is not allowed.

Metro should place larger signs throughout the trains if it is really serious about this rule.

Linda M. Cajka

Lake Ridge

I agree: Metro can do more to warn riders that it is illegal to eat or drink on the system.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Metro's overreaction regarding its policy about food made headlines last year when a customer was arrested for finishing her snack as she entered a Metro station.

Imagine my surprise at the situation I encountered when I took the Red Line from Glenmont to Union Station on a recent Monday. Sitting on the train was a teenager sipping a big can of fruit juice. Across from him stood a Metro employee in uniform, watching. That continued for several stations, until the employee left the train.

The policy is enforced in some cases, but not in others.

Sonja Dieterich


In such a case, get the employee's name and report the incident to Metro at 202-637-1328. Metro should launch an inquiry and caution employees to warn offending passengers.

Road Work Headaches

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Washington seems to allow contractors to block lanes for no apparent reason, but the situation at 19th and H streets NW, a major traffic artery in the evening, reaches a new low.

For at least two weeks, there has been a trench approximately six inches deep and a foot wide all the way across 19th Street at H Street, causing drivers who know it's there to slow to a crawl and exposing drivers who don't see it to alignment or tire damage.

There appears to be fresh concrete at the bottom of the trench, and all it needs is to be filled in, or at least covered when no one is working on it. Whom can I call in the city government who might care?

David Straus


That is a D.C. Water and Sewer Authority project, and the D.C. Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over the road, appreciates your bringing this matter to its attention, spokesman Bill Rice said.

Apparently the trench was left behind from this project. The Transportation Department will work with the Water and Sewer Authority to have the road surface fixed, which should be done by the end of this week.

Report such problems to the city's catchall complaint number, 202-727-1000.

Route 17 Congestion

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

You recently recommended an alternative to Interstate 95 that took drivers from Interstate 66 west onto Route 29 south, and ultimately onto Route 17 east to I-95 [Dr. Gridlock, June 16].

It must have been many years since you have driven this route. Route 17 approaching I-95 has become incredibly congested and already is unable to effectively carry the daily car and truck traffic. It can often take four to five light cycles to access the ramp to I-95 south, causing long backups. This really is not a good option and is getting worse all the time!

I hope somebody has a better alternative.

Elaine Diepenbrock


I last traveled that route in May. You're right; congestion is increasing as Fredericksburg development expands along the Route 17 corridor. But I find the Route 17 congestion around Fredericksburg less onerous than the I-95 corridor congestion in Fairfax and Prince William counties.

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.