He took his foot off the gas!
Felder (D–Midwood), who has come under fire for caucusing across the aisle with the Republicans, introduced legislation in Albany back in March that would have allowed motorists to drive 35 miles per hour on the Kensington-to-Brighton Beach boulevard, instead of the 25-mile-per-hour citywide speed limit.
But Felder struck the bill — which was first introduced as an increase to just 30 miles-per-hour — after his constituents convinced him that it would have turned Ocean Parkway into a death trap for pedestrians and cyclists, he said during a meeting with the activist group New York State Senate District 17 for Progress on July 20.
“I thought a lot about that bill as a result of different feedback, that I’ve spoken to people personally, and I’ve decided to drop the bill,” said Felder during the recorded meeting.
The bill had angered constituents enough to rally outside his office against the hike in April, and even spurred the anti-car group Transportation Alternatives to start an online petition against it, which got more than 800 signatures. So Felder’s reversal is a big win for the community, said one of the leaders of the Senate District 17 for Progress group.
“We are very happy that he is getting rid of this bill,” said Midwood resident David Goldberg, who also works with Families for Safe Streets. “It was one of the first issues around which our group coalesced, and we’re happy to have some impact on taking it off the table.”
Mayor DeBlasio reduced the speed on all of the city’s roadways to 25 miles per hour in 2014, and advocates argued the 5-miles-per-hour difference has saved lives on Ocean Parkway.
On a large stretch of the multi-lane thoroughfare, from Church Avenue to Avenue U, 102 pedestrians had been injured and three were killed from November 2012 to November 2014. After the change, from December 2014 to last month, 88 people have been injured and none killed, according to data from the Department of Transportation.
The demise of Felder’s bill is the first step in the right direction for even better and safer transportation, said Paul Steely White, of Transportation Alternatives.
“We’re pleased that the bill is dead now,” he said. “We hope that we can have an adult conversation about real policies that will save real lives, and not play cowardly political gains where people’s lives are truly at stake.”
Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz (D–Sheepshead Bay) sponsored a similar measure in the lower chamber — to raise the Ocean Parkway speed limit to 30 miles-per-hour — but did not return a request for comment.