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Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 01/25/2012

Chef Geoff Tracy takes on D.C. speed cams

Chef Geoff Tracy. (Fredde Lieberman )

Fans of chef Geoff Tracy got a little something extra in his e-mail newsletter Monday: A warning about speed camera tickets.

“All y’all that live in upper Northwest DC and drive on Foxhall Road. . . watch out for the new speed camera. It’s on a downhill so it gets you every time.” Where exactly? Tracy shared a map pinpointing the spot — and his own tale of woe: “I haven’t gotten a speeding ticket in 21 years. With the new camera, I got 3 in 3 days. Ouch.”

This is how the mild-mannered owner of the Chef Geoff restaurants (and husband of CBS White House correspondent Norah O’Donnell) became a speed cam provocateur. It all started when D.C. police installed one of nine new cameras on Foxhall Road near his home in late November. Offenders got warnings for a month, then tickets starting Dec. 21.

(Update: D.C. Police Respond to Chef Geoff’s speed-cam activism)

Speed cameras monitoring traffic in Rockville, MD. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
Tracy, 39, said he didn’t know the camera was there until he received a couple of warnings in the mail — after the ticketing began and his Lexus was photographed going 10-15 miles over the 25 mph limit. The three fines came to $425, which Tracy said he can afford now but would have been a hardship when he was starting his career. Thus the Facebook, tweets and the e-mail blast to his 45,000 customers.

“It’s just a little protest on my part,” Tracy told us. Or maybe not so little: He’s planning to hire a guy with sign to stand on Foxhall Road for a week pointing out the camera. “It’ll cost me about $1,200 but I figure it is worth it from a goodwill standpoint,” he said.

And since you asked: Yes, he’s driving 24 mph on Foxhall Road these days. “I have slowed down. I programmed my GPS for that location — when I get within 1,000 feet, a little bell goes ding ding ding.”

D.C. police did not respond to requests for comment.

Read also: Norah O’Donnell and Chef Geoff cook up three kids, one best-selling book, 9/10/10.

By  |  05:00 AM ET, 01/25/2012

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