WITH YET ANOTHER lame excuse for stalling, Mayor Barry has reaffirmed his ill- camouflaged disregard for one of the most important achievements of the D.C. Council last year: the no-fault auto insurance protection law. This is the law that was passed to provide improved coverage and compensation for the victims of accidents in this city, where nearly half the motorists on the streets are without insurance. It is also the law that Mayor Barry refused to sign last July, with a vague explanation that he was "concerned that the necessary protections for the consumer be included and, when necessary, clarified." By refusing to sign, he left it to Congress to intervene if it chose.

Nobody ever did "clarify" that one, and fortunately Congress declined this invitation to interfere in local affairs. Now, just as the protections are scheduled to go into effect--and just as the plaintiff attorneys' lobby is into another round of button- holing city hall's politicians--Mr. Barry is calling for "emergency" legislation in order to delay the effective date of the law. His postponement would stall things beyond the annual auto registration deadline of March 31, the best time for making insurance a prerequisite.

Mr. Barry claims that the city government--you can make that read the Barry administration--isn't ready to handle all the changes involved. Yet that isn't the word from people who should know, in the department of transportation. If there is administrative fault on no-fault, it is in the insurance superintendent's office, where Mr. Barry could easily insist on meeting the deadlines for paperwork.

It took years of pleadings from consumer groups, organizations representing the elderly, business, labor and many individuals to stop unnecessary lawsuits, fees, delays and unfair compensation. People have been living in fear of uninsured motorists far too long already. The Barry administration should stop waffling and let no-fault become law.