Jurgen G. Pohly writes: "Although I usually agree with your good sense approach to problems, I take mild exception to your condemnation of the District's new measures against parking violators.
"As a bike rider who pedals to and from work, I see more cars at red meters than I would like to believe possible.
"There seems to be a belief among many office workers who park their cars at meters that the chances of getting a ticket are remote. A crackdown would make people think twice before they bring their cars downtown. If more people join car pools or switch to public transportation, there will be fewer cars on the street, and traffic will move more freely."
The theory seems logical, but traffic experts will tell you it doesn't always work out that way. What usually happens when traffic facility is improved is that the number of vehicles using it expands until the improved facility is again taxed to capacity.
In the ling run, providing more off-street parking doesn't make it easier to find a parking place at the curb. More cars just come out of the woodwork and fill both type of spaces. Building an expressway to bypass a bottleneck also seems futile. Vehicles now fill Whitehurst Freeway, which bypasses the old Georgetown bottleneck, and Georgetown remains just as crowded as before.
In short, our demand for additional traffic lanes seems to be insatiable. I see no way to cope with the situation except to put strong emphasis on mass transit and keep open the traffic lanes we do have by taking stern measures against drivers who block them.
If I gave the impression that I "condemn" the proposed parking crackdown, I apologize. I didn't mean to. I merely wanted to comment that it will have only a limited effect on the movement of traffic, and that even those limited benefits will not come into being for a year or two.But there is no need for such delay. We can start taking effective action to move traffic right now.
We can put more and better-trained policemen on traffic assignments. We can enforce the rule against blocking intersections. We can issue tickets to motorists who block a lane of traffic by waiting to pick up passengers. Telling them to move does no good: they'll block the same lane the next day if there is no policemen present.
We can start towing away cars with diplomatic tags when they block a lane of traffic. Later the State Department can express its regrets and promise it will never happen again, but the diplomats will get the message and start paying for commercial parking just as ordinary mortals do.
We can invite the United States Postal Service to a court test of whether a local government has the to punish the drivers of federal vehicles who violate parking and "standing" laws.
We can tow away passenger vehicles parked in truck loading zones, and then insists that truckers respect "No Standing" signs during prohibited hours.
We can evict tour buses, trucks and private vehicles from Metro bus stops, and then insist that Metro drivers pull all the way into a bus stop when picking up or discharging passengers.
We can instruct policemen not to impede traffic on main streets when they stop errant motorists. The transgressor should be told to move to a side street before his ticket is written.
Finally, we can start jailing people who not only accumulate traffic tickets but ignore the warrants that are issued when the tickets remain unpaid.
These are all things that can be done now, without new legislation and without suffering through another year or two of delay. We can begin doing these things the day after Mayor Washington tells Police Chief Cullinane that he wants them done. Unfortunately, however, there has never been a great public outcry for strict enforcement here, and in this town the politicians are followers, not leaders.