Lane-blockers slow rush hours Cloggers: During rush hours, traffic grinds to a stop behind cars illegally parked in traffic lanes. But city parking agents are on the watch.

The Intrepid Commuter

November 27, 1995

It's 8:30 in the morning, and the Intrepid One is cruising on St. Paul Street. All four lanes are thick with traffic, but we've got synchronized green traffic lights on our side. Life is good, and we're running on time when -- suddenly -- a backup sprouts in the left lane. It stretches from Eager Street to Chase Street.

And you know what it is?

A parked car, with its emergency lights flashing. We're stuck behind it, blowing our horns (that's the proper protocol, right?) and trying to wedge into the next lane of traffic.

We finally inch out and, seconds later, pull up next to the dreaded car that's the caused this misery to give the driver THE LOOK. But, no one's there.

Seems this inconsiderate bloke has decided to stop so he or she can run into a dry-cleaning establishment. So what if the parked car blocks traffic during rush hour?

A similar incident happened to Yvette Joyner on Greenmount Avenue. A motorist stopped in front of a deli near the corner of 33rd Street during the morning rush. She was behind the car, grinding her teeth, watching the emergency lights flash.

"It's only two lanes, so how in the world do they think they can close one of them and everything's OK?" Ms. Joyner wondered.

Robert Staten, supervisor for city parking control, said parking agents look for motorists clogging lanes by illegally parking during the rush hour from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily. The penalty: a $32 ticket plus a towing charge.

*

And while we've got St. Paul Street on our mind, it's amazing how many drivers run the red light at 29th Street.

We travel St. Paul Street fairly regularly (although not nearly as much as we did since they've been tearing up the road between North Avenue and Mount Royal Avenue) and never paid much attention to those who run traffic lights.

But a resident who lives nearby recently brought the matter to our attention, saying he saw five accidents within eight days at 29th and St. Paul.

"I just hear the sound of grinding metal and come outside," said David Beaudouin, who lives in Charles Village. "It's like living in Beirut. It's quite unnerving."

We decided to camp out at the intersection for an hour or so at various times of the day to watch the lawbreakers at work. And it was truly amazing.

We stopped counting the number of motorists who ran the light, but noticed that the majority of the offenders traveled on 29th Street.

We saw all types of vehicles run the light -- motorcycles, moving vans, police cars, sedans and taxis.

More strict enforcement in the area is on the way.

Lt. J. D. Smith of the city traffic unit said he plans to station officers at the intersection soon to monitor traffic and "write a few citations."

*

On our frequent trips out Interstate 70, we'd never really noticed a dip in the westbound lanes just before the Patapsco River Bridge. Then, a reader asked if the dip could cause a cave-in similar to the one in Frederick County this month.

We thought it was just an uneven road surface, but decided to check it out. The dip is a concern that the State Highway Administration is aware of and plans to repair in the spring.

Meanwhile, it is monitored daily by highway workers, said SHA spokesman Chuck Brown. The dip developed when soil settled between joints in the concrete, Mr. Brown said, and poses little possibility of caving in. "This is not a sinkhole," he said.

On Nov. 1 in Frederick County, a car was swallowed when a 30-foot deep sinkhole developed near I-70. No one was injured.

*

There are few motoring topics that the Intrepid One deliberately tries to avoid, but one is traveling in a funeral procession.

Another is driving when a funeral procession is passing nearby.

Are you legally required to give the procession the right of way? Are you morally obligated to give it the right of way? Or, like any other driving circumstance, treat it as though it's every motorist for himself?

We usually give the funeral procession full respect, but we've also

have been known to dart into the line if given the chance.

Sue Berry of Pikesville almost had an accident recently when cars in a funeral procession proceeded through a red light.

No laws prohibit breaking into a funeral procession, although cars in the procession must have their headlights on and are allowed to go through a red light if the first car of the procession has passed through a green light, said Michael McKelvin, spokesman for the Maryland State Police.

Michael Psenicska, a Perry Hall driving instructor, said it's best to give the procession the right of way, though it's not required by law.

"They want to keep together, especially in the city, and they're from out of town and don't know where they're going," Mr. Psenicska said.

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