Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Law enforcement officers in our city certainly don't deserve to be reported for parking illegally to grab a bite to eat or a cup of coffee [Dr. Gridlock, July 7].

I support any type of police presence, even double-parked police presence.

It is ludicrous to expect officers to park legally while conducting non-emergency business. If, by parking illegally, officers are able to patronize local establishments and increase their on-street presence, I fully support the practice.

We should be doing everything we can to support these officers -- not griping about a motorcycle on the sidewalk.

And your request to readers to pass along information about offending vehicles for police to investigate? Please. These men and women deserve far more respect, support and accommodation.

Ed Farley


Well, that is certainly a counterpoint. The voices I have heard on this subject are mad that police park illegally. They don't like police doing something they can't do, especially when police are not on an emergency call.

However, now that you mention it, if I were a downtown merchant, it would be okay by me if police parked on a sidewalk near my front door or picked up a cup of coffee nearby.

We disagree over the matter of double parking, however. We don't want police on a non-emergency call blocking a lane. We want police to move traffic along, not block it.

Thanks for your views.

Metro on Parking Spaces

With regard to Metro's parking lot procedures, Metro's parking customer service representatives survey each facility by 9 a.m. weekdays to see if a lot is full. If it is, with the exception of the reserved spaces, the representative will place a sign at the entrance that says the lot is full except for the reserved spaces.

Reserved parking spaces for permit holders are held until 10 a.m. After that time, all unused spaces are available to general parking customers. If a customer enters a parking facility and cannot find a space, the representative can let the driver exit without paying.

Metro is working on a pilot program to install "Lot Full" signs and associated equipment at several parking facilities by the end of the year.

Steven Taubenkibel

Public Affairs Specialist

Washington Metropolitan

Area Transit Authority

So, there you have it. If the lot is full, a sign should be posted at the entrance. If you are inside and can't find a parking space, a customer service representative can let you out without paying.

Two-Plate States

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Has Maryland stopped requiring front license plates on cars? I have noticed an increasing number of cars with rear Maryland license plates but no front plates.

When did Maryland change the rule, if it did?

And if front plates are still required, why isn't the law enforced?

Ben Kaufman

Silver Spring

Maryland, Virginia and the District all require plates front and rear. Some other states do not require a front plate, and I wonder if there is some confusion.

I haven't received other letters suggesting that this is a widespread problem. Maryland law enforcement wrote 3,096 missing license plate violations for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2004, and 2,634 for the fiscal year before that. But those statistics do not distinguish between missing front plates and rear plates. The fine is $55, with no court costs.

If you see a violation, hit #77 on your cell phone, and police may respond, depending on their availability.

Is anyone else seeing one-plate cars in a two-plate state?

Eating on Metro, Continued

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I read the letter from Sonja Dieterich [Dr. Gridlock, July 7] regarding the teenager who was drinking juice on the Metro under the watch of a Metro employee.

My daughter has Type I diabetes, which she treats with insulin and regularly timed meals and snacks to prevent low blood sugar.

A side effect of insulin is a sudden drop in blood sugar that can rapidly lead to coma and death. The treatment is a drink of juice, sometimes followed by food -- immediately, whenever the problem strikes. It is dangerous to wait.

Perhaps the teenager had sought the help of the Metro employee while she got her blood sugar under control. Perhaps the employee was monitoring her to be sure Metro didn't have a medical emergency on its hands.

A diabetic experiencing low blood sugar may be irritable or unable to communicate. Because of my personal experience, when I see someone eating or drinking inappropriately, I give them the benefit of the doubt.

Linda Gordon

Silver Spring

That's a good way to cope with eaters and drinkers who drive some Metro riders bonkers. I am so sorry about your daughter's disease. It's pernicious and common. I have it, too.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My most recent experience with people eating in the subway system was unfortunately not as benign as Linda M. Cajka's [Dr. Gridlock, July 7]. On the Union Station platform a couple weeks ago, I noticed a woman and two teenagers consuming sodas and snacks. When I asked if they realized that this activity was illegal, the woman became defensive and hostile.

I did not alert the station manager, which I have done on previous occasions, as there was a delay on the Red Line at the time, and I figured the staff already had enough to deal with.

I do not intend to ignore future scofflaws, but there are reasons for hesitating to approach them directly.

Patricia Richter

Silver Spring

I understand your frustration, but it might be better to alert Metro personnel. You might get into a confrontation that ends badly.

Bus Goes Own Way

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Why aren't Metrobuses required to use the HOV lane on Route 50? The gasoline savings alone should make it mandatory.

I'm sick of sitting in traffic and spending additional commuting time while the HOV lane is wide open. What is the purpose of this lane if eligible vehicles don't use it?

Route 50 is bad enough during rush hour without people entitled to use the HOV lane clogging up the regular lanes.

Pam Hanlon


Metro's sole bus route on Route 50 is the B-22, which runs between New Carrollton and Bowie. The reason the bus doesn't use the left-hand HOV-2 lane is because it travels only a short distance on Route 50 and would have to cross four lanes to get to the HOV lane, then four lanes back to exit on Route 197 at Bowie. It's a safety issue, according to Metro spokesman Steven Taubenkibel.

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.