TAKOMA PARK, MD—Homeowners on one local residential
street have been stymied in their latest efforts to enhance automotive safety. Frustrated
by the continued appearance of drivers reaching 10, even 12, miles per hour on their street, residents of Chelm Avenue took
matters into their own hands.
“Sure, every other
block in Takoma Park has four or five speed bumps, but on Chelm Avenue we go the extra mile,” said a homeowner. “We may be the only street in Takoma Park without any children, but that doesn’t
mean we’re going to let cars drive down our street willy-nilly.” Chelm
Avenue residents initially paid out of their own pockets to put additional speed bumps in place, adding more over time until
25 had been laid down. “We got some really nasty triangular ones,”
said a proud resident.
However, residents weren’t satisfied with the results. They then
gouged several deep pot holes into their street, which yielded a bit more slowdown.
“We needed something extra. We thought about putting strobe lights
by the street—it would freak out passing drivers, and it would at least make it look as if they were driving slower—but then we had the big idea.”
Chelm Avenue homeowners
decided to fuse their numerous speed bumps into one block-long speed bump, elevating the whole length of the block. To pay for this ambitious plan, residents turned to unorthodox methods.
Some money was raised by selling the hubcaps jarred loose by the 25 speed bumps already in place, and also by selling
fillings knocked from the mouths of passing bicyclists. Additionally, a fee-for-service
first-aid booth was set up at curbside to treat the concussions suffered by passing motorists striking their heads on the
roofs of their cars. After the necessary thousands of dollars were raised, construction
on the super speed bump (called the SSB by locals) was quickly completed three weeks ago.
It was an immediate disappointment. “Cars would get up on the SSB
and just take off, slowing down only at the end of the block to come down off it,” said one homeowner. “We just can’t understand it—in theory, it’s like we have an infinite number of speed bumps on our block. But it just doesn’t work.” Unsure about their next step after the failure of the SSB, Chelm Avenue residents
have gone back to the drawing board. Says one, “Maybe we’ll just
try the strobe light thing.”