You wouldn’t know it, but there is a proper way to speed through an alley in your car. At least, that’s what some of my neighbors think.
These aren’t the whimsical ways I waxed poetically about in previous missives, a place where pedestrians are king and cars alien. No, these are alleys that might as well be roads, and quite a few of them are in Hill East. Whether there once were alley houses cleared from these paths or they were built to accommodate the automobile, these mini drag strips are as wide or wider than my neighborhood streets, allowing cars to pass each other as easily as on any other narrow D.C. road. They aren’t the charming strips that the typical mention of a D.C. alley evokes.
But kids play in these alleys. Frequently. My local mega alley is the main play area for several youngins who live in apartment building adjacent to my building, and they certainly aren’t looking out for cars going 30 miles per hour. But they should be.
These cars come ripping through, but much like a Metro train rolling out of a tunnel, the drivers think an audible warning is sufficient to excuse going way too fast down roads used as playgrounds by children. The difference? Metro is grade-separated from potential children playing nearby; cars of course, are not.
A pair of successive honks introduces a rolling Wrangler or speeding Sienna; an ambling Audi, however, does not. Slow drivers don’t honk — presumably because they are paying attention. But no attention is needed if you deem yourself cautious enough to honk while you bomb around the city?
If someone hasn’t been killed by this behavior already, it’s not going to be long before it happens. Drivers should slow down and walkers should be wary when entering an alley — it’s a shared space just like the road is.