Q For your reader Mike Norris: I too received a letter from the French government last month, notifying me that a camera had caught me speeding in my rental car on the Paris-to-Normandy freeway. I was going 6 mph over the limit. The letter was in French legalese, but I was able to find the website they provided, and I paid with my credit card. The amount was $88.
A A bunch of readers had words of advice for Mike, who recently returned from a trip to France and found a speeding ticket in his mailbox but couldn't read French and asked what he should do.
Q OK, the French. Two words. Google Translate. It works well. ... There are lots of translation apps available for iPads. Some of them are free and others are very cheap (two to five bucks). Certainly cheaper than a ticket in France.
Jack Levy, Gary Rauh, Carol Shall and more
A And let's zip over to Scotland.
Q Interesting reading on the French ticket. I got one in Scotland once on a business trip. They had an address that I wrote back to, explaining I was on a business trip. They wrote back forgiving the ticket, but kindly asked me that if I drove in Scotland again, that I be more cautious.
A The Scottish tip may be the best of all.
Q Three times a week I take my son and two classmates to their martial arts class near Whole Foods just off Hillsdale Boulevard on the Peninsula. Returning home around 5:30 p.m., westbound traffic slows to a crawl up the hill on Highway 92. But no bottlenecks exist here; in fact, just the opposite, with few cars merging from Alameda de las Pulgas, West Hillsdale or De Anza Boulevard and four -- count 'em, four -- wide-open lanes at the top of the hill. One to Half Moon Bay, two for 280 south and one for 280 north. What gives?
A Beats me. I field questions like this frequently when traffic picks up as the economy gains steam. There are just more drivers on the road and it doesn't take much to bring the drive to a crawl, even when it appears open pavement should mean a faster drive.
Q I also want to give the new carpool lanes on Interstate 880 a big thumbs up. I drove the carpool lane north last week to pick up my daughter from BART in Fremont. I arrived 15 minutes ahead of my estimate.
Driving back south at 5 p.m., it was amazing. In all the years I've driven 880 in this section, I have never had such an easy drive during the commute. No stop-and-go. Just a nice, safe, consistent speed. For now, those lanes are great.
A But another 880 veteran begs to differ.
Q I don't agree with the 880 verdict. The 880 extra lane has done very little except make four or five carpoolers happy. I drove home every day last week on 880 south and it was gridlock between 237 all the way past 101. And it will get worse once the kids go back to school. If they just added one lane on the 101 overpass it would help. The room is there.
A No more widening is planned. Check back in the fall and we'll see what the verdict is then.
Q Have you seen what Caltrans designed at 101 and 880? There is a very short merge from 101 north onto 880 south. It used to be a couple of car lengths. Now it is about 10 feet. Even at 30 mph there is not enough time to react. Would you please, please investigate before a serious accident happens?
A Caltrans says it'll take another look at this. Stay tuned.