Slow-moving automobiles are making their way eastward in this great city of ours.

The Neighborhood Pace Car Program, sponsored by the D.C. Department of Transportation in partnership with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), has already taken root in Ward 3 and is currently creeping (at 30 mph or so) into Ward 6.

The safety program asks neighborhood motorists “to take responsibility for the impact of their own driving while setting the ‘pace’ for safer streets and neighborhoods.” It also asks them to place the special pace car decal in a prominent spot on their automobiles, so that other motorists don’t just assume that the driver is (a) trolling for a parking space; or (b) a longtime subscriber to AARP The Magazine.

Eve DeCoursey, a spokesperson for WABA, says the pace car idea originated in Australia. “Instead of just involving the engineers to FORCE the speed limit,” she writes, “or just involving the police to ENFORCE the speed limit, it also involves the drivers themselves(!) encouraging them to take responsibility for the impact that the velocity of their vehicles have on our neighborhood and community streets.”

DeCoursey goes on to say that the “risk and danger that a driver introduces to the street scape when driving 10-15mph beyond the speed limit is significant.”

Pat Munoz, who signed up to be a pace car driver in Northwest, says it hasn’t been an enormous part of her life because she doesn’t drive that much. But when she does drive, the sticker helps remind her to slow down and pay attention.

“Zooming around in your car isn’t conducive to having a nice neighborhood,” Munoz says. Munoz also says she hasn’t noticed if cleaving to the speed limit has convinced other drivers to slow down. “Maybe the people behind me…”

—-Rend Smith

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