Transportation

Pols Urge Mayor To Restore Ocean Parkway Speed Limit To 30 MPH; City Says History Of Serious Crashes Justifies Decrease

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ocean parkway

Councilmen David Greenfield and Mark Treyger are urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to restore the Ocean Parkway speed limit to 30 miles per hour after it was decreased to 25 mph as part of the mayor’s Vision Zero initiative, with the lawmakers stressing that the new speed limit is causing increased traffic congestion on local streets.

Both legislators noted that they support the Vision Zero initiative, which aims to reduce traffic fatalities throughout the city, but said the change on Ocean Parkway has created more problems than it has solved.

“I am proud to have co-sponsored legislation that reduced the default speed limit citywide to ensure the safety of every New Yorker,” Greenfield said in a press release. “However, we were promised that major thoroughfares like Ocean Parkway would not be reduced without the input of the local community. We very clearly told the Department of Transportation that Ocean Parkway is not an appropriate street for 25 miles per hour. Applying the 25 mile per hour speed limit Ocean Parkway will actually do more harm than good for our neighborhoods: it will increase traffic and force drivers onto the surrounding narrow residential streets.”

The DOT, however, wrote in an email to us that, “Ocean Parkway is the fourth most dangerous roadway for pedestrians in Brooklyn and its history of serious crashes informed DOT’s decision to reduce the speed limit by 5 mph.”

The DOT said:

Ocean Parkway saw 64 pedestrians killed or severely injured (KSI) between 2009-2013, including eight pedestrian fatalities. The pedestrian KSI rate for Ocean Parkway was 13.2 per mile over that five-year period. By comparison, the more notorious Queens Boulevard, where DOT recently lowered the speed limit to 25 mph, had a pedestrian KSI per mile of 7.3 over the same five-year period.

Ocean Parkway is a challenging roadway. It serves as a major automobile route through Brooklyn but also as a linear park, bike and pedestrian path, used by many local residents, including children and seniors. A pedestrian struck at 25mph is twice as likely as likely to survive a crash as one struck at 30mph. NYCDOT believes that the lower speed limit, paired with consistent enforcement and community engagement, will be an effective approach to ensuring both safety and mobility on this important roadway.

Still, according to the lawmakers, neighbors’ quality of life is suffering because of the change, with residents beginning to see an increase of drivers on local roads as they attempt to avoid Ocean Parkway, which was constructed as a major roadway throughout central and southern Brooklyn and is heavily trafficked because there are no parallel roads of similar capacity.

“Already, Waze — the traffic app — is advising drivers to avoid portions of Ocean Parkway and use local streets instead,” Greenfield said in the same press release. “I am asking Mayor de Blasio to put the speed limit back to 30 mph as soon as possible for the sake of my constituents’ safety and quality of life.”

Treyger agreed, noting he supports the new 25 mph speed limit on the majority of roads across the city, particularly in residential areas, but said the higher speed on major thoroughfares, like Ocean Parkway, needs to be restored to ensure that the high volumes of traffic on those roads move as efficiently as possible.

“I am concerned that this lower speed limit will only serve to increase traffic on this extremely busy street without having a real impact on pedestrian safety,” Treyger said in the press release. “This will result in drivers searching for alternate routes through the neighborhoods surrounding Ocean Parkway, which will unnecessarily jeopardize the safety of residents in those areas. I am proud to support Vision Zero and the lower speed limit in appropriate areas where it will protect the public, but I do not believe that Ocean Parkway meets this criteria.”

What do you think? Should Ocean Parkway’s speed limit remain at 25 mph, or do you want to see it go up to 30 mph? Let us know in the comments below!

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18 COMMENTS

  1. I would like any speed limit…. but it needs to be limited. The vehicles that are killing pedestrians and cyclists on/around Ocean Parkway are not the ones driving at 25 mph or 30 mph, it’s the ones using it as a racetrack. Enforcement is required. Ya know, police with the cars with flashing lights and all that? I don’t think our local precincts know about that part of their job yet.

  2. Basically, it’s really sad that the DOT is the only city agency that is *really* trying to do anything to reduce traffic deaths and injuries. The city doesn’t have and shouldn’t have the resources to engineer us to safety… the other agencies need to do their part. (NYPD and DSNY)

  3. I feel this is true and Ocean Parkway should be at least 30mph with lights properly timed for that speed. Right now it feels like the lights are still timed for a faster speed than 25mph so it encourages people to speed up to catch a light, which is when most accidents happen.

  4. You’re asking the wrong person for a rational, dispassionate answer here: Years ago, I hit a pedestrian on Ocean Parkway. A little old lady with dementia was crossing against the light from my left; by some miracle (and much swerving of traffic) she made it across three lanes and into my line of sight. I floored the brake, thanked God it had just been relined, and waited to see what the laws of physics would deliver. Answer: I tapped her, knocking her down with no more than a fractured pelvis. But if I had been driving the freeway speed of the surrounding traffic, I would have killed her. I always take it easy along Ocean, not drag-assing (that’s dangerous, too) but not hot-rodding joyfully when there’s a break in traffic. The cops (who filed no charges) assured me, “We pick up seniors along here every single week doing the same thing–starting out on a stale green with a walker and lousy eyesight.” So, in memory of Mrs. Applebaum (who despite my official blamelessness stayed on my insurance rates for 3 years), I’d reluctantly say yeah, 25 mph, even though it will feel like driving through mud.

  5. Yeah – this is the crazy part. The current light timing on OP rewards you for speeding up and penalizes people that obey the law. They need to fix the timing so it is the other way around and all speeding gets you is the chance to wait at a red light, ala the avenues in midtown.

  6. I’m so sick of people trying to say how much time they’d save if they could drive 5 mph faster! If they were actually driving the speed limit, they’d save *a couple minutes* IF the lights were perfect. That’s it. Red lights help manage traffic by controlling the flow of cars through bottlenecks. If everyone raced through beautiful seas of green lights, they’d just stop short at the next bottleneck. Reasonable speeds save lives. Period.

  7. Lowering the speed limit does not cause congestion. Congestion is caused by too many cars.

  8. I met Mark Treyger at the 20th Avenue D station one morning when he was campaigning. I let him know that my two biggest concerns were:

    1) The brothels/massage parlors that line the high teen avenues and 86th street (This is a human-trafficking issue)

    2)Speeding (everywhere all the time)

    1)They closed some brothels/massage parlors in Bay Ridge not in my/Treyger’s district

    2)He wants to increase speed limits

    If this was the majors we’d send him back down, but NYC has no recall mechanisms.

  9. Considering that neither NYPD nor speed cameras won’t ticket anyone unless they go at least 10 MPH above the speed limit, I think this demand is absurd. It’s typical pandering to the constituents who are the worst drivers!

  10. This is ridiculous. This shows a lack of understanding of how waze works and since no study has been done since this went into effect is based purely on the conjecture of a couple of people. Besides if there is some sort of horrible congestion on a road, why shouldn’t traffic be rerouted over side streets. This basically says to me: “The thousands of apartment livers on Ocean parkway should continue to suffer so that the 80 or so people in our free standing houses can continue taking advantage of drivers not knowing there is another option available.”

  11. Isn’t the obvious answer to put speed humps on the parallel local streets so that there is no advantage to leaving Ocean Parkway?

  12. And you would think public safety is the duty of the police! Instead they are issuing 1 speeding ticket a day per precinct, while they seem to have plenty of time to ticket cyclists!

    P.S. Ocean Parkway has a heavy senior citizen population. They can’t always make it across in time. This is exactly where you need people to drive at a speed where they can stop in time…

  13. It really doesn’t matter what the speed limit on Ocean Pkwy is. People are going to drive however fast they want on that thing anyway. With the side street, turning lane and that weird intermediary area that cars linger in, combined with Brooklyn drivers, it’s pretty much guaranteed total chaos.

  14. I’m amazed that I haven’t heard about one of the people selling bottled water on Ocean Pkwy at the intersections of Cortelyou and again at Beverley getting hit. They weave in between cars and out into the middle of traffic. I can’t believe this is what the planners had in mind for Vision Zero.

  15. A bit late, but I notice that no one is talking about lowering the speed limit on one of two arterials in Brooklyn with a speed limit above 25 mph: Linden Boulevard (which has a speed limit of 30 mph west of Kings Highway and 35 mph east of it). The other arterial is Kings Highway (which has a speed limit of 30 mph its entire length, although it should be 25 mph west of Ocean Avenue where it is only 2 lanes). If the speed limit is to remain at 25 mph, re-time the signals for 25 mph.

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