City Desk

In Cleveland Park, Honk if You Hate Speed Humps


Speed humps are for traffic control, but they're so much more than that. With throwing people into the stocks out of fashion, humps are the only form of social shaming we have left.

But some drivers on Cleveland Park's Newark Street refuse to accept the concept of "reasonable speeds." Since speed humps (or bumps, if you like—though there actually is a difference irrelevant to this story) were installed on the street last year, they've been honking while going up and down. To show how mad they are.

The Post interviewed one honker last September. But angry drivers are still at it, according to a recent plea on the Cleveland Park listserv to let Newark Street families sleep in peace.

How does the honking sound?

"It's not a brief honk," says Bettina Stern, a neighborhood resident. "It's a honnkkkkk." Stern says she wouldn't associate with any honkers.

That means Cleveland Park resident Mike Rosella is probably off Stern's Christmas card list. Rosella became the face of speed hump honking after he posted a notice on the listserv calling for more honking.

"It's not meant to be personal," he says. Rosella got the idea from a Georgetown professor, who told him honking has been an effective protest against speed humps in other cities.

Rosella says he'll keep honking until the speed humps are removed, altered, or at least studied by the District's government.

Like other Cleveland Park issues, speed humps are really just another way of talking about the Giant supermarket on Wisconsin and Newark. The renovation and expansion of the Giant has been planned for more than 10 years, but it's continually tripped up by Cleveland Park opponents.

"Just about any complaint in this neighborhood is connected to the Giant," Rosella says. Some residents have speculated that the speed humps were a sop to opponents of the grocery renovation, who worry that a bigger store will mean bigger traffic problems.

City Desk recently conducted a field test to see if the humps were worth all the trouble. Ten cars passed over with no honks or bottom-outs, although some did jerk around awkwardly.

Still, Rosella hasn't given up the fight. In fact, he's starting to enjoy it. "I take pleasure out of honking," he says.

Photo by Will Sommer

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  • J

    This guy sounds like a douchebag. He doesn't have anything better to do? Get a hobby! What a waste of time

  • Tim

    I think people should start going to Rosella's home with air horns (don't actually go on his land, since that could be trespassing, just get as close as you can while staying on the street or sidewalk).

  • downtown rez

    If this guy keeps a regular schedule, neighbors should schedule some sort of intervention.
    Honestly, anyone who takes out their petty selfish frustrations by blowing their horn while encased in several tones of moving metal has got is a joke.

  • Tious

    What an idiotic response

    Can I blow by your house and honk all the time?

    If not, why do it near me?

  • mike rosella

    Ignorance is bliss. The douchebags are the Newark Street residents who inconsiderately pushed their traffic onto their neighbors' streets which were already burdened with traffic. But the truth is its more about the process than the result. Apparently King, err, Mayor Fenty has nothing better to do than rubber stamp speed bumps even when DDOT says they aren't needed.

  • what a douche

    Ignorance was also bliss back when you bought a house on a collector or arterial, right Rosella?

  • DC Guy

    Why is it that there have been over 700 speed humps installed in the city and the only two places where it seems to have caused any issue (this being one of them).

    Is there something self-righteous about the residents of the other streets that there is some pent-up anger or jealousy? Christ, if you want to slow speeding cars, either park a police cruiser on the street (not likely) or get speed humps. The city made the process easy for a reason.

    Get over it and move on.

  • Green Cleveland Park

    Honkin' Mike Rosella actually ran for office in the local citizens association election, advocating a campaign of harassment through honking. His reasoning was that if he and his friends honked enough (at all hours), the neighbors living on streets with speed humps would actually beg the city to remove them. He called it "effective communication." Well, Rosella and his slate lost, big time. But like other Teabaggers who can't seem to get over losing elections, he just won't let up.