Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I frequently travel on Bonifant Road between Layhill Road and New Hampshire Avenue. Why is there a separate red light right-turn arrow at Notley Road? It is easy to see whether there is oncoming traffic.
There are some traffic signals in our region that are curiosities to those of us just passing through, but they make sense to the people who live around them. The odder the signal, the more likely there is to be a history behind it.
Lots of cars heading east on Bonifant were turning right onto Notley and using it as a shortcut to New Hampshire Avenue. The heavy flow of traffic on Notley, which was designed primarily as a residential roadway, was creating a safety problem for neighborhood drivers looking for gaps in what had become a continuous flow of traffic.
Meanwhile, Bonifant Road, which is meant to serve as an arterial roadway connecting up with New Hampshire Avenue, was underused. Montgomery County's Department of Public Works and Transportation took a look at the problem and installed the red arrow light to limit traffic making that right turn from Bonifant onto Notley.
"The unique phasing of the signals and the signage has helped considerably," said Thomas D. Pogue, the department's community relations manager.
I'd like to hear about other traffic signal curiosities you have spotted in traveling around the region. I've already got a couple of others I plan to write about in coming weeks.
Picking Your PoisonWhile Metro is restudying its budget to see how much of a fare increase it really needs, riders have been expressing their concerns about the fare proposals that Metro management made in January. Because we can't hold back a fare increase forever, I'd like to hear from readers about what they would be willing to tolerate.
I asked one letter writer [Dr. Gridlock, Feb. 11] to pick her poison by suggesting what might be an acceptable increase. She wrote back with some very thoughtful proposals that reflect her own situation and her view of the transit system.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
My work commute is Silver Spring to Bethesda (to Montgomery Avenue, a block off Wisconsin Avenue). I ride two buses each way, transferring between the Ride On and Metrobus systems. Up until two years ago, I worked in downtown Washington, so I used Ride On and Metrorail.
I feel I have a good deal now: free transfers between the two bus systems, along with Ride On's 20-Trip Ticket's discounts. It's a cheap commute for me, and since for the first time in my life I'm actually coming out a little ahead on my part-time wage, I would willingly pay a higher bus fare if we must all chip in. Maybe up to $1.60-$1.75 one-way, something like that, which would be a modestly significant rise in my budget.
Expanding from the egocentric, though, I think that level of increase could be very hard on a lot of my fellow riders, those who are clearly less well off than I am and likely supporting children as well.
I don't know if Metrobus has an all-day pass, but I see a number of my fellow Ride On passengers using one, and a lot of them are likely working two low-wage jobs. Maybe the cost of the all-day pass could be held the same, since it does look like an income-level issue.
I do use Metrorail occasionally, to go downtown or across the river. I have always found it pretty pricey. As an occasional voluntary user now, I could accept raising every fare by maybe 50 cents max. Before, as essentially a coerced commuting user, I think I would have said I could handle, without resentment, a 20-cent across-the-board fare increase.
This "poison" seems acceptable only if we don't see aggressive subsequent increases on top of the new prices for some time. And, if we swallow increases, I would want a pact: It is time for the regional governments to step up to the plate. I'm referring, of course, to dedicated regional funding for Metro; it is about time.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
I was glad to see the letter [Dr. Gridlock, Jan. 25] about the dangers to pedestrians crossing Wisconsin Avenue NW at Jenifer Street.
Of even greater danger nearby is the large number of pedestrians who cross Wisconsin Avenue NW near Western Avenue at the District line, often in the dark and in spite of the flow of traffic. The same thing happens on the other side of the District line, between Western and Willard avenues. These pedestrians are a menace to themselves and to drivers, and more steps should be taken to prevent such crossings.
The District is working on a "Master Plan for Pedestrians" to enhance safety. There will be public forums in the spring to discuss the plan and give people a chance to identify areas of concern.
Statistics compiled since 1999 were used by the planners to produce a map charting pedestrian accidents. There have been several fatalities along upper Wisconsin Avenue. And two women died last week when they were hit by a Metrobus at Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, one of the most dangerous pedestrian intersections in the city. Most of the other main commuter routes and downtown streets also have accident hot spots that need attention. The widest roadways are more likely to have clusters of pedestrian accidents.
Metro Was HelpfulA traveler praises Metro's handling of the extra riders using the transit system last month to get to and from downtown demonstrations.
Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Saturday, Jan. 27, I traveled with several other people from Vienna to the Smithsonian Station.
There were many other riders. Though I had used the subway regularly in the past, even I was mystified by the new (and improved!) options of the Farecard machine. I was very impressed that Metro had employees on hand to help those of us traveling to the demonstration on the Mall who were unfamiliar with the machine. They helped us get the Farecards we needed and expedited our trip.
My hat is off to Metro for anticipating the influx of users unfamiliar with the system!
Transportation planners quite properly pay a lot of attention to roads such as South Capitol Street and Georgia Avenue that serve as gateways to the nation's capital, but for many, it's a Metro station that plays that role.