Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Metro history: Speed downhill, expect a D.C. traffic ticket

December 14, 2011 - 05:35 PM
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Beware the radar. (Photo: flickr/horiavarlan)

Whether with speed cameras or vulture-like cops, Washington, D.C. has always been ready to punish those who would speed. Tickets mean revenue, and no police department has to be told that twice.

I present a brief piece of Metro history here from February of 1962 in an issue of Jet. The magazine featured a selection of different news items under the broad banner of "Talking About." Among these items was a bit of D.C. transportation that doesn't at all surprise me.

Here's what bothered drivers then:

How Washington, D.C. traffic department set up radar at the foot of hills out of sight in sparse residential sections of the city to trap motorists going down hill. Most of the speeding goes unheeded in predominantly Negro neighborhoods, while radar is frequently observed set up in well-to-do dominant white communities.

Sneaky, D.C. No wonder drivers speed up as they're driving downhill. I wonder how many tickets police gave out thanks to those 1960s radars. The racial dimension to how the District of Columbia enforced traffic law is also worth considering. I imagine the differing levels of enforcement impacted the safety of pedestrians at the time and created other problems, as speeding went "unheeded."

Read the February 1962 issue of Jet here and more pieces of Metro history here.

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