Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Please encourage drivers in the right lane on the Beltway to move to the center lane around entrances if traffic conditions permit.

Freeing up the right lane allows cars to enter the highway quicker and more safely. Having to slow down in the acceleration lane can create a hazardous situation.

I hope you find this suggestion useful.

Michael Hoyt

Silver Spring

I do. Some drivers already do this, and it is much appreciated. I find that most drivers do not; in fact, some speed up to prevent you from merging (thank you so much).

If more drivers would move left when safe to accommodate entering vehicles, it would ease a little of our commuting pain. Such a courtesy might spread to all our local interstate highways.

These Boots Are Made for Locking

Dr. Gridlock recently received a letter from a person who found his own solution to preventing vehicle theft. He bought a boot -- like the ones police can use to disable an illegally parked vehicle -- and boots himself when he parks in risky areas. Take that, thieves!

Some 5,000 vehicles were stolen in the District from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, according to Officer Quintin Peterson of the D.C. police. That's nearly 20 thefts a day.

I asked readers where to get a boot. Here's a response:

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Booting hardware is available in this country. It is commonly used to secure boat trailers that are left at sites offering questionable security.

One manufacturer is Alpha Industries Inc. of California. The model I have will not deter a thief with a flatbed truck, but it should discourage opportunistic theft.

David Ditmars


Thanks for the information. Alpha Industries sells "Wheel Immobilizers" to police and the public. The cost is $129.95 to $139.95. The company is based at 2625 Homestead Pl., Rancho Dominguez, Calif. 90220; 310-639-0251;

Is this what life has come to -- booting ourselves?

P.S. I recently saw a parked Porsche Boxster that had red metal clamps attached to each wheel. Boots generally go on only one wheel. Anyone know the purpose of these red devices?

The Asocial Surcharge

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

You ran a column from readers proposing mythical "surcharges" that Metro should levy on rude passengers for asocial behavior, such as taking up two seats with backpacks or shopping bags [Dr. Gridlock, Oct. 9].

Here's another: A special tax for people in suits who get off at Farragut North (Red Line) and think that if they fold their newspaper real small and stuff it down between their seat and the side of the car, they are not littering.

George Bogart


You people know who you are. Some passengers are watching. How would you like to be de-wedging newspapers every day while trying to clean the cars?

Paging Dr. Gridlock

I am booking Dr. Gridlock appearances during weekday lunchtimes through the end of February. Appearances consist of question-and-answer sessions and/or group discussions about our transportation systems.

I've been appearing across the metropolitan area.

There is no fee. These appearances are sponsored by The Washington Post Speakers Bureau. My appearances work best before groups of 35 to 75 people and are heavy on audience participation. We usually have some fun.

Other than the weeks beginning Nov. 14, Nov. 28 and Dec. 5, I have openings. Contact me at

Please, no requests for early mornings or weekday evenings. I try to stay out of rush hours.

Online Traffic

Dr. Gridlock will be online from 1 to 2 p.m. (or maybe a little longer) tomorrow to take your questions and comments about our transportation system.

I start taking questions about noon and post those answers about 1 p.m., after which we go live.

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