Yesterday’s post about a New Zealand traffic calming program at Urban Velo reminded me of Neighborhood Pace Cars.
The Neighborhood Pace Car program enables residents to take control of traffic problems on their own streets without any intervention from a local government or highway department and without breaking any laws. In 2000, Australian activist David Engwicht worked with residents in Boise, Idaho to create the first neighborhood pace car concept to control cut-through traffic on what was once a quiet residential street. They created a humorous “pace car” decal for their cars, and drive the speed limit up and down the street to safely escort through traffic from one of their street to the other end.
Since then, the Pace Car program has expanded to Washington DC; Salt Lake City; Mesa, AZ; San Carlos, CA; Las Cruces, NM; Davis, CA; Freehold Township, NJ; Reno, NV; Santa Cruz, CA; and dozens of other locations.
Pace car volunteers sign a pledge to drive within the speed limit on local streets, stop for pedestrians, drive courteously, and display a Pace Car Sticker on their vehicles. Pace car drivers act as “mobile speed bumps,” slowing the flow of traffic behind them. The more Pace car drivers in a neighborhood the better it works.
Here’s another type of Neighborhood Pace Car.
I don't think bikes make good pace vehicles though. The speed limit downtown here is 30mph, and I'm typically riding between 15-20 downtown. That means that the impatient drivers will do anything to get past me such as accelerating fast or swerving between lanes, no matter if I take the lane or not.
When I'm driving though, I LOVE to go the speed limit. Everyone is typically going 5-10mph over, but I drive 0-5 under most of the time on city roads. I've been doing it ever since high school. For some reason I get a huge kick out of seeing a long line of cars behind me traveling at the speed limit *GASP* !! Once I got into the hypermiling thing, I realized that going 55mph (the limit) on state routes saves on my gas, but sometimes I get to save up to 30 or 40 other drivers' gas too. It's amazing how ticked off the drivers look when they pass me, as if my refusal to speed is ruining their day.