Gasoline price takes summer dip Fuel: AAA of Maryland says it costs 6 cents per gallon less to fill up the car now than it did in June. But be warned: The savings go only to self-serve customers.

Intrepid Commuter

August 19, 1996

HIT THE PUMP and save!

That's the good news from the American Automobile Association, which reported last week that the cost of gasoline has dipped nearly 6 cents since June.

It now costs an average of $1.28 per gallon for regular self-serve gas, a decrease of almost 3 cents in the price in each of the past two months, says AAA of Maryland. The average cost of self-serve midgrade gas is $1.38 per gallon, while premium costs $1.45 per gallon -- both 2 cents less than last month.

But you have to get out of your car at the station to take advantage of the lower prices. AAA found in its survey of 30 gas stations throughout Maryland, excluding Prince George's, Charles and Montgomery counties, that the savings apply to self-serve only.

Drivers who stay put and let the attendant fill it up, check the oil and wash their windshields (if such services still exist) pay almost 1 cent more per gallon than they did last month.

Thrill disappears quickly when you reach parked cars

Heading down Northern Parkway's Thrill Hill west of Roland Avenue, drivers in the right lane often are forced to slow and even brake after crossing Falls Road because of curbside parking just east of the ramp to Interstate 83 that is permitted except during weekday rush hours.

This pickle has caused years of frustration for residents of seven homes facing Northern Parkway who often park and clog the lane of the busy street. It also has caused great anger for commuters who -- despite bold signs at the intersection warning of the parked cars -- have to navigate the snarled traffic pattern before entering the Jones Falls Expressway.

Here's a homeowner's view of the little parking war: "People come up on your tail and stop, they spit at the car, curse at you, blow their horn, give you the fist and make threats. It's verbal abuse," says Judith Carrig, who has lived in the 1200 block of W. Northern Parkway since 1981 and has stopped parking on the street unless she has to unload groceries.

"One driver even stopped once, got out of his car and smashed in the window of a neighbor's parked car with a baseball bat," she said.

Despite the rudeness and abuse, the residents don't want to give up their convenient parking spaces. Five years ago, they fought City Hall to keep them even though there is an unnamed street behind the row of homes just off Mattfeldt Avenue. But Carrig noted that residents have to climb a steep hill to reach their back doors after parking there.

Intrepid One visited the hot-tempered zone last week, parked her car (halting traffic) and sought interviews. Your wheelster was treated to an amazing display of driver irritability including fist-waving, slurs and the inevitable horn-blasting as more than 75 cars rushed through the intersection at each green light.

The situation has prompted complaints to Intrepid before, most recently from retired Baltimore Circuit Judge Elsbeth L. Bothe, who said her travels have been slowed at the site.

"It hardly seems justified to jam up traffic on a major route just to accommodate the occupants of five or six houses," the bothered Bothe writes. "Moreover, the situation is dangerous. There is always the threat of a chain reaction as cars come suddenly to a halt for an unexpected car in their path."

Bureaucrats from the city Department of Public Works say they were not aware that it was a vehicular flash point until Intrepid asked about it last week. DPW spokesman Kurt Kocher promised a study of the situation. "If there are changes that are needed, they will be made," Kocher said. "We have five residences there that predate the JFX and maybe because of increased traffic, it may become necessary to do something."

Kocher said all parties concerned would be included in the study by DPW's parking division. "We're not going to take any resident's parking away from them," he said, diplomatically. "Let's see if we can't find a happy medium there." The Pepsi-Mountain Dew landmark on the JFX once again is flashing pertinent lifestyle data -- it has a new, green digital temperature and time sign. The board was installed after the old sign fizzed out, thanks to the cumulative effect of pigeons and the Blizzard of '96. This is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, an observance designed to raise awareness of those 18-wheeler captains and the trucking industry that pays more than $4 billion annually in salaries in Maryland.

Pub Date: 8/19/96

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