Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Recently my husband and I decided to remove my name from the title of our Toyota MR2. We arrived at the MVA in Gaithersburg and entered the building, expecting a long wait. I am temporarily using a cane, so I sat down, intending to move along from chair to chair as the line moved forward.

In a few minutes, a smiling MVA employee named Bonnie Nicholson came up and told us we could go to her window immediately. She helped us complete the necessary forms and, within a very reasonable period of time, we had paid the fees and were ready to leave.

Things have certainly improved in Gaithersburg. Incidentally, I have e-mailed Bonnie Nicholson's supervisor. She is doing a great job.

Barbara Videll


Good to hear of such deeds. The MVA today is a far cry from the days before automation and chairs.

Commendable Cleanup

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Last week, bad weather took down a tree and totally blocked Selkirk Drive at Selkirk Court in Bethesda.

The 911 operator was notified, and during the night a crew came to cut up and remove the tree and reopen the road before morning traffic. By mid-morning, the tree on the side of the road had been turned to mulch.

It's great to see county services working so well!

Edward Kelty


And I'm happy to get such reports!

Use Alert Signs More

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

You ask how Maryland officials could make better use of their overhead electronic traffic alert signs [Dr. Gridlock, July 21]. Some years back, I lived in the Netherlands, and the Dutch made extensive and effective use of their overhead signs. Some in-town signs even indicated the optimum speed to travel in order to catch the flow of green lights!

I suggest Maryland learn from the Dutch; it can't hurt to ask.

Don Junior


The optimum speed to catch green lights seems like something we should be interested in. Perhaps some local officials should visit the Netherlands.

Parking Impasse

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

While driving one-way 18th Street NW between F and G streets during a recent morning rush hour, I noticed a car parked in the left lane, which is supposed to remain clear during rush hours. Blockage of these rush-hour lanes can cause severe backups. When I noticed a police officer looking at the car, I thought, "Good! That illegally parked vehicle will be removed."

The next morning, what did I see but the same car parked in the same place, apparently unmoved since the previous morning! The car was not identified as a government or official vehicle, but it was displaying handicap plates.

Now, if it were up to me, I wouldn't even give the president a pass on parking illegally during rush hour. Do you know why this vehicle was allowed to remain in its illegal spot?

Rick Johnson


No, but you can report such chronic problems to the mayor's command center at 202-727-1000. Keep track of your report. If nothing happens in a few weeks, please write back to me, with license plate numbers and vehicle location, and I'll contact the police.

Illegal parking is the single biggest cause of downtown gridlock, and police should be all over violators.

One-Plate Mystery

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The number of Maryland registered vehicles carrying only a rear license plate is a widespread problem. I have probably seen a dozen Maryland vehicles each day with only one plate.

I have also seen several vehicles with expired tags, only one registration sticker or no stickers.

Tom Lansford


The Maryland MVA says it is not aware of such problems. I wonder if readers could get more details, such as the license plate number, which plate is missing and where the vehicle was spotted. I can then ask the MVA to look into the matter.

Buses Won't Be Stranded

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Why in the world doesn't Metrobus use a silent alarm that can be triggered by bus drivers? With Global Positioning System technology, such an alarm could alert the Metro police to the location of a bus sending out a distress call.

Chris Miller


Metrobuses do have such alarms, plus a bus's overhead sign can be adjusted to read "Call 911." Metro knows where all of its 1,400-plus buses are at any time because of an automated vehicle locator system that works like the LoJack car recovery system, according to spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein.

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.