Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I read the letter in your column about the close call with a Metro train door shutting on a baby stroller [Dr. Gridlock, May 29]. I experienced a similar situation when returning home from the White House Easter Egg Roll this year with my 7-year-old son, his friend and my mother. We were getting off the train at Crystal City along with many other people, including several children, one of whom was in a stroller.

Everyone was lined up at the door to get out, with the stroller going first, so there was no dillydallying. The doors opened, the stroller went first, the chimes rang and the door slammed on me and my son's friend, whose hand I was holding.

A man also waiting to exit the train helped me force the door open and helped my mother, son and others out. Meanwhile, several people were still waiting to board! My shoulder was sore for several hours from the impact of the door, and the children and my mother were frightened.

Kathy VanOrden


Would it make sense, with a large party, to line up at different doors? These Metro iron-jawed doors seem to be a problem. Maybe the new citizen advisory board can help.

Anti-Theft, to Boot

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

One of your readers suggested "booting" our own cars to prevent them from being stolen [Dr. Gridlock, July 28].

Although I have never seen them for sale in this country, wheel clamps are commonly available and used on cars in Great Britain (although they are not called a "boot," since that means trunk in British English).

An example of a Web retailer offering them for sale to the U.K. market is

Jol A. Silversmith


I would like to hear from someone who uses those.

Montreal's Metro

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

My wife and I just returned from a visit to Montreal, where we spent three days exploring the city on its wonderful Metro.

During those three days, I made a point of checking out the escalators and handicap elevators whenever we entered or exited a station and never saw one that was out of service.

Perhaps the Washington Metro people ought to send some of their maintenance personnel to Montreal to find out how they accomplish that miracle.

David Phillips


I think there are competence and union issues here. At least that was what was reported by an outside panel.

Va. Is a 2-Plate State

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Are cars registered in Virginia required to display both front and rear license plates?

The number of cars I see with a Virginia rear plate but no front plate is growing at such a rate that I wonder whether I've missed a new regulation making front plates optional.

Most of the Virginia drivers I see without front plates are apparently just too cool to bother with them -- two-seater sports cars and gargantuan SUVs whose owners are afraid of diminishing their aesthetic design and/or aerodynamic efficiency by attaching those pesky plates.

Mary L. Sullivan


Valid license plates are required to be displayed front and rear on Virginia-registered vehicles.

I'm not seeing this phenomenon myself, but then I usually notice only rear plates while in traffic. I'm going to start looking more for front plates.

Kudos to Metro Employee

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Yesterday, I was commuting home on the Orange Line from Foggy Bottom to Vienna about 3:40 p.m. During the trip, the train's operator, Robert Washington, gave us the standard warning over the intercom about reporting unusual activity or unattended items.

Washington then spoke through the next two stops or so about how even though he was the train operator, for all of us to get where we were going, we would need to work together. (This is the condensed version.)

His comments were delivered in a light-hearted and pleasant tone, and many of the passengers were laughing appropriately, but when he was finished, I was left with a very positive feeling that this man took his job very seriously and had great pride in the Metro system.

Since we all have had negative interactions with Metro personnel at times, I wanted to pass on this extremely positive experience. I have also made a similar report directly to Metro.

I believe that I have ridden the Orange Line at other times when Robert Washington was the operator, and he always had a funny comment or a helpful piece of information.

Linda Disselkamp


Thanks for sharing. Hope this employee gets a commendation.

HOV Violator Caught

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

After taking my granddaughter to her home in Falls Church recently, I was returning to my residence in Annandale via Route 7 west. I entered the Interstate 66 west ramp with the intention of heading for the Capital Beltway.

Upon entering I-66, I realized HOV restrictions were in force, but I assumed the three-tenths-of-a-mile drive to the Beltway exit would not be considered an HOV violation because HOV restrictions end at the Beltway. I received a ticket because I was the only passenger in my vehicle.

To get to the Beltway during HOV hours, you would have to drive Route 7 to Tysons Corner. That merge onto the Beltway comes to a complete stop, with bumper-to-bumper traffic to I-66.

What the state troopers are doing at the Route 7 ramp onto I-66 doesn't help the traffic problems that the Virginia Department of Transportation wants to solve. This looks like an end-of-the month ticket writing program.

Archie Conover


There are so many violators of HOV lanes, and so many other people clamoring that those violators be cited, that I'm not going to defend any HOV violation, even if it seems like a small infraction.

You don't have to take Route 7 to I-66 to the Beltway. That seems like the opposite direction from Annandale.

How about Route 7 east to Seven Corners, and then Route 50 west to the Beltway south?

It's best for single-occupant drivers to steer clear of I-66 during HOV hours.

Shaving His Commute

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

At 9:30 a.m. July 12, a Tuesday, my husband and I were driving on Chain Bridge Road east toward Canal Road when we observed a cream-colored Honda Accord being operated in a dangerous fashion. The driver was oblivious to merging traffic.

On Canal Road, we signaled and tried to move over to the left lane to turn left onto Arizona Avenue NW.

The driver would not let any cars merge and was tailgating. When we caught up parallel to the car on Canal Road, we noticed that the driver was shaving with an electric razor!

What can someone do in a situation like that other than stay clear of the driver, as you've recommended in past columns? Can we report the driver after the fact, and will the authorities do anything if we take the time to do so?

Diana Culp Bork


You can dial #77 on your cell phone and report the offending motorist. Normally, police tell me, they will not respond to a traffic infraction unless it's a drunken driving or reckless driving offense.

Otherwise, stay out of the offender's way, even to the point of changing your route.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Thursdays in Extra and Sundays in the Metro section. You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers.