Simcha Felder Wants More People to Die on Ocean Parkway

A motorist killed 88-year-old Feliks Dadiomov on Ocean Parkway, striking the victim head-on in a crosswalk. Simcha Felder’s bill to raise the speed limit would make the street more dangerous. Image: WABC
A motorist killed 88-year-old Feliks Dadiomov on Ocean Parkway, striking the victim head-on in a crosswalk. Simcha Felder’s bill to raise the speed limit would make the street more dangerous. Image: WABC

Ocean Parkway is one of the deadliest streets in Brooklyn, but it’s not dangerous enough for State Senator Simcha Felder.

Felder has introduced a bill that would raise the speed limit on Ocean Parkway to 30 miles per hour, exempting the street from NYC’s citywide 25 mph limit. The 25 mph limit was established in 2014, the first year of the city’s Vision Zero initiative, thanks to the tireless efforts of New Yorkers who lost family members to reckless drivers.

City Council Member Brad Lander says Felder’s bill is supported by Senate Republicans and the so-called Independent Democratic Conference, led by Bronx rep Jeff Klein. “To make matters worse, the Senate version is part of their budget package, so it could move quickly, in the dark of night,” Lander wrote on Facebook.

Steven Cymbrowitz, Democrat from Brooklyn, has introduced a companion bill in the Assembly.

“A speed limit change on Ocean Parkway would set a dangerous precedent,” warned Transportation Alternatives, “leaving the door open to elected officials pushing for speed limit changes on other streets, which would create a confusing and broken patchwork of variable speed limits.”

Ocean Parkway is one of the streets singled out for Vision Zero upgrades in the DOT’s Brooklyn pedestrian safety action plan. Based on the number of fatal and severe crashes per mile, it’s Brooklyn’s fourth most dangerous street for walking, behind Flatbush Avenue, Eastern Parkway, and Utica Avenue.

City data show drivers killed eight pedestrians on Ocean Parkway between 2009 and 2013, and 64 crashes resulted in death or severe injury to pedestrians during that time frame. Motorists have injured 279 people walking on Ocean Parkway in the last five years, according to TransAlt.

Neighborhoods around Ocean Parkway have a higher proportion of seniors than Brooklyn as a whole, TransAlt says. Multiple lanes of fast-moving traffic lead to crashes like the one that killed Feliks Dadiomov, an 88-year-old hit head-on by an SUV driver in a crosswalk in January.

As a City Council member, Felder was a mouthpiece for aggrieved motorists who referred to parking enforcement agents as “vultures.” In the Senate, Felder supported the city’s 25 mph speed limit, but was the only Democrat to vote against allowing NYC to put more speed cameras near schools.

  • reasonableexplanation

    That title, heh.

    But let me call out this bit:

    …which would create a confusing and broken patchwork of variable speed limits.

    We already have different speed limits for different streets: like the 20mph ‘neighborhood slow zones,’ which i’m assuming TA supports, as well as higher speed limit streets such as Flatbush Ave south of Ave U.

    As a driver, it’s not difficult to read changing speed limit signs, especially when the street is obviously designed differently, like Ocean Parkway is (6 lanes of traffic with 2 service roads), in comparison the the (justifiably) 25mph side streets surrounding it.

  • Reader

    With Democrats like these…

  • Urbanely

    I’ve always wondered why discussions of crash prevention don’t deal with a contributing cause: the size/weight of vehicles. I know people love the freedom to drive whatever they want, but getting hit by an SUV or Ford F-150 going at 30 mph is a different proposition to being hit by a mini cooper at the same speed. I know that people have different personal needs, but I don’t think most people really need such large vehicles.

  • Brian Howald

    Perhaps 5th and 7th Streets should be 20 mph and Ocean Parkway 25 mph.

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that the speed limit should be the same for all streets, but that 25 mph is as fast as traffic should move on streets that handle pedestrians and cyclists with intersections every 500 feet.

  • Joe R.

    For most city use something less than 10 feet long, and electrically powered, makes the most sense. It could probably weigh well under 1000 pounds. I personally don’t see why anybody in a city needs SUVs or F-150s. Those vehicles are for either going off-road or carrying/pulling very heavy loads (a month’s worth of groceries doesn’t quality). Probably less than 1% of those who have such vehicles really need them.

    Besides giving disincentives to get people out of large vehicles, NYC needs to phase in a zero-emissions requirement for any vehicle operating within city limits. Vehicle pollution kills more people than vehicles themselves kill directly. It’s also a major quality of life problem, particularly during the warmer months.

  • Joe R.

    I agree here. Any competent motorist should be alert enough to notice changing speed limits. I don’t see any good reason why we can’t have arterial speed limits of, say, 20 mph, which are only in effect in school zones during school hours, have mostly 25 or 30 mph elsewhere, and even have 35, 40 or 45 in places with low pedestrian density. Even better, why not have electronic speed limit signs which can change according to time of day (i.e. higher speed limits late nights) and weather (lower speed limits when it rains heavy or snows). If a driver can’t deal with changing speed limit signs, then perhaps they’re not competent enough to drive in the first place.

    For full disclosure, I’ll add that my interest in railroads biases me here towards variable speed limits. Railways invariably have constantly changing speed limits due to curvature, gradients, noise abatement, and so forth. Often, the limits change several times in the course of a mile. Moreover, trains don’t change speed quickly like cars do. By the time you can see a lower speed limit sign it’s often already too late to slow down. That’s why you have to know your route, and anticipate upcoming lower speed limits. It’s not hard to do either, after you’ve been over a route a few times (spoken as one who has spent many hours playing train simulators). It should be far easier in a motor vehicle where you always see lower speed limit signs in plenty of time to adjust your speed accordingly.

  • reasonableexplanation

    I’ll defer to the residents regarding E 5th and 7th. But the Easts aren’t particularly narrow blocks like some older streets in Brooklyn, and 25 feels like a reasonable speed on those streets. I say this as a bicyclist, pedestrian, and driver.

    As for speed on Ocean Parkway itself; I’ll disagree. It’s not a street you cross mid block, nor are there parked cars along the 6 travel lanes. The conflict points are at the intersections exclusively. Red light running isn’t a function of speed unless the yellow phase is set incorrectly, and the small turning radii created by the bike and ped paths don’t allow you to turn fast no matter the speed limit.

    Making the street safer would involve a combination of barnes dance, restricting turns, a separate left turn signal, and so forth at select intersections, which the city is already doing as we speak.

    So what would a slower speed limit accomplish?

  • walks bikes drives

    He is a Democrat in name only. He caucuses with the Republicans.

  • Komanoff

    “… the small turning radii created by the bike and ped paths don’t allow you to turn fast no matter the speed limit.”

    Faster driving speeds on Ocean Parkway make it harder for turning motorists to cut their speed as they turn, for fear they’ll be rear-ended. That’s dangerous for anyone using the bike and ped paths, especially cyclists.

  • Vooch

    Registration fees could reflect damage additional weight does to pavement

    Joe

    All other things being equal if a 2,500lb motor vehicle is assessed a annual fee of, say, $100 to account for wear and tear if roads, how much should these weight vehicles be charged ?

    3,500lbs ( mid sized car )
    4,500lbs ( big sedan )
    5,500lbs ( large SUV )
    7,500lbs ( Überblack SUV )
    8,500obs ( Full Size pick up 4 wheel drive)

  • Vooch

    Ocean Parkway was designed for 5-10 MPH speeds

    25 MPH is twice as fast as it was originally designed for and is more than plenty fast

  • Vooch

    Hey

    why couldn’t those East side access TBMs simply have kept tunneling all the way down lexington and then to the LIRR terminal in Brooklyn ?

    crazy idea I know, but eliminating dead heading at 2 terminals and providing one seat rides for LIRR commuters to 42nd, 34th, 23rd, 14th, and Canal seems so sensible

  • Anijake

    My question is why? What difference would 5mph make? The lights are sorta synced so you can only go a block or two at a time anyway. What would the benefit be for the increase?

  • Joe R.

    That’s easy because wear and tear is roughly proportional to the fourth power of mass:

    3,500lbs-$384
    4,500lbs-$1,050
    5,500lbs-$2,343
    7,500lbs-$8,100
    8,500lbs-$13,363

    You can see the fee quickly becomes prohibitively high once you get much over 4,000 pounds. Just for kicks, a 200 pound bike plus rider would be 1 cent.

    I might start the base fee of $100 at 1,500 pounds and go up from there. Here’s what you end up with under that scenario:

    2,000lbs-$316
    2,500lbs-$772
    3,000lbs-$1,600
    3,500lbs-$2,964
    4,500lbs-$8,100
    5,500lbs-$18,075
    7,500lbs-$62,500
    8,500lbs-$103,112

    Under either scenario totally over the top vehicles are prohibitively expensive. Under mine anything much over 2,500 pounds starts to get prohibitive. If someone really wanted to own a huge vehicle they would have to park it outside the city, and only use it outside the city.

  • Brian Howald

    > Red light running isn’t a function of speed unless the yellow phase is set incorrectly

    There’s no argument (that I know of) over the length of the yellow phase of signals in the city, and yet I see people run them every day.

    > the small turning radii created by the bike and ped paths don’t allow you to turn fast no matter the speed limit.

    The turning radii are much larger than at most intersections due to the width of the avenues (~50 feet wide) and the width of the service roads meaning that the vehicles waiting at the lights on the service roads are ~40-50 feet away from the corner.

    > Making the street safer would involve a combination of barnes dance, restricting turns, a separate left turn signal, and so forth at select intersections, which the city is already doing as we speak.

    Sen. Felder was out with Public Adovcate James, Comptroller Stringer, and several other electeds in December fighting these changes.

  • Urbanely

    I like these ideas, but I don’t know how they would be enforced. Too many people already register their cars outside of NY because of high insurance costs. Additional fees would just lead to more scofflaws.

    There needs to be some kind of change in mentality about the size of vehicles that one should have in a city. Europeans seemed to figure this out a long time ago.

  • Larry Littlefield

    They buried/extracted all the TBMs. If they were going to keep tunneling, and bringing the debris out by subway at night, they should have done it southbound on Second Avenue. They acted to inflate the cost of any future projects.

  • Vooch

    1) would it be huge to have a one seat LIRR ride along Lex ( or Park ) matching express stops of IRT ?

    2) would it huge be eliminate the deadhead terminals of GCT & Brooklyn/ Barcleys by connecting them ?

    I think it would be a transformative increase in mobility for New York. I believe it might have more positive ramifications than ARC or Gateway ( and cost less )

    thoughts ?

  • reasonableexplanation

    yet I see people run them every day

    Right, so speed is irrelevant to this issue. If you’re curious, red light running (to me) seems like a neighborhood culture thing, since it varies so much by neighborhood; e.g. in years and years of ocean parkway driving I’ve never seen someone burn a solid red, yet almost any time I drive into Bay Ridge I’ll see someone do it.

    turning radii are much larger

    Unless you go into the opposing lane (you shouldn’t) turning radii are very tight. Out of curiosity I measured how many G’s I pulled turning at 10mph from Ocean Parkway yesterday; it was about 0.35, which is just above the comfort limit for the vast majority of drivers. Most drivers slow down even more. A 20, 25, 30, or even 45mph limit would not change this.

    Turns from service roads are a different matter, but every service road intersection has at least a stop sign, which means a turning car starts from 0mph on those intersections anyway.

  • reasonableexplanation

    I don’t think that’s significant enough to matter. The right lane on Ocean Parkway is already mostly used as a slow/turning lane and not a through lane, since cars often have to yield to peds and bikes going straight. It’s not really an issue.

  • reasonableexplanation

    When discussing road wear cars don’t matter: road damage is effectively caused by trucks

    http://facweb.knowlton.ohio-state.edu/pviton/courses2/crp776/776-roads-handout.pdf

    There’s plenty of reasons to encourage smaller cars, but road damage isn’t really one of them until you get past Escalade territory.

  • Joe R.

    I know that. 😉 Vooch and me were just trying to come up with a scheme which would give huge disincentives to owning anything much larger than a subcompact. Obviously you could make some exceptions to the draconian fee scale if someone can show they really need a large vehicle for business or medical reasons.

    If you wanted a fee scale which reflected the true cost of road damage, you might normalize it using $100 at something like 15,000 pounds. An 80,000 pound semi would pay about $80K under this fee scale. This probably realistically reflects the amount of damage the heaviest trucks cause.

  • Vooch

    that’s what all those automatic license plate readers the NYPD drives around with should be used for

  • Vooch

    I’ll argue that starting with 1 penny for a 200 lbs bike is a good datum.

    work up from there.

  • Joe R.

    If they really do that much damage of course it’s fair. Not sure what the exact number is though. Also, ConEd and other utilities do a fair amount of street damage with their crappy patchwork.

  • Vooch

    If a bicycle causes 1 penny of road wear and tear annually, then your math is inescapable,

    what’s right is right

    🙂

  • Vooch

    joe r’s math is inescapable.

  • bigkhuna

    Replace the person killed here with people murdered by ileagle alians. Why doesn’t councilman Brad Lander want to deport them?

  • bigkhuna

    We could get rid of many 18 wheeler trucks if Nadler’s cross harbor train tunnel were built.

  • bigkhuna

    Brad Lander is one of the two sponsers of the infamous bag tax.

  • reasonableexplanation

    I’d recommend reading the linked document, and also what Joe R wrote below.

  • Vooch

    I skimmed it.

    It’s true that big rigs do the vast majority of damage, so we should apply Joe Rs formula to big rigs.

    let me ask him to recalculate

  • Vooch

    Joe,

    what happens of you work backwards from say:

    60 tons = $500,000

    ?

  • reasonableexplanation

    Vooch, the math is simple (weight^4)*x=total fee

    So for 60 tons (120000lbs) at $500k, x is approx = 2.4e-15

    Which gives you:
    2500lbs= $0.09 (Fiat 500)
    3500lbs = $0.36 (Toyota Camry)
    5800lbs = $2.73 (Cadillac Escalade)
    8000lbs = $9.88 (Hummer H1)
    20000lbs = $385.80 (Fully Loaded UHaul Box Truck)

    Again, cars don’t damage the roads in a meaningful way.

  • Potholes regularly appear on streets where trucks almost never go, on streets whose traffic consists essentially 100% of cars.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Yes, and cracks and holes appear on sidewalks where neither cars nor trucks go (especially the asphalt ones; concrete fairs better, but then again, so do concrete roads). Can you think of what they might have in common?

  • Holes do not appear on sidewalks unless those sidewalks have been intentionally opened up and relaid. The only thing that breaks up sidewalks on timescales of less than multiple decades is tree roots.

  • Vooch

    then it’s much more fair to start with 1 penny for a 200lb bicycle and work up.

    we want to be absolutely fair

  • reasonableexplanation

    And this is why it’s frustrating having a decent conversation with you:

    We just spent a handful of posts discussing how cars don’t contribute to road wear. With sources and everything.

    You threw out a number pulled out of your hat, as you like to do, which led to a result that you didn’t expect, and now you’re back to saying it’s fair to charge cars and biked for road wear, even though we’ve already agreed that it’s not a factor.

    Like, I get you don’t like cars, you’ve made that perfectly clear, but be intellectually honest, will ya?

    There’s plenty of externalities that you can claim should be shifted to the driver, but road wear is not one, and you know that.

    It would be nice if moving forward, you could take a fact based approach to your desire for car operation to be prohibitively expensive.

  • Vooch

    it is frustrating when one side believes a machine that routinely kills 40,000 Americans deserves more than a 10% mode share. ?

    I’ll reread the article you linked more closely and reflect

  • The State of New York spent $10,878,802,300 in FY 17 on the entire State DOT. That’s $44k per mile. There are only about 800,000 commercially registered vehicles, so the DOT budget only works out to about $14,000 per commercial vehicle.

    I foresee that your “true cost of road damage” scale would result in greatly overfunding DOT and eventually that money would get spent on road widenings and other projects anathema to Streetsblog readers.

  • joey_c

    yeah, props to lander for sponsoring it, and jeers to felder and the ny state legislature for killing it.

  • joey_c

    virtually none in terms of how fast drivers get places, but in a car/pedestrian crash 5mph can mean the difference between life and death.

  • Dorothy Berman

    Five miles an hour will make a very big difference. Thirty miles an hour is horrendous on a street like Ocean Parkway. At that speed cars have trouble stopping for the lights and end up in the crosswalk hitting pedestrians crossing correctly

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

TA: 88% of Brooklyn Drivers Are Speeding, And Almost None Get Tickets

|
Transportation Alternatives observed nearly nine in ten Brooklyn motorists breaking the speed limit while compiling data for its new report on dangerous driving [PDF], but enforcement from NYPD remains almost non-existent. In fact, TA says it clocked more drivers speeding in 12 hours than NYPD ticketed in all of 2011. That’s why speed cameras are necessary for city […]