Outraged local residents and community leaders gathered on the corner of Ocean Parkway and Avenue J in Brooklyn on Sunday morning to protest the Department of Transportation's (DOT) plan to change local traffic laws.
Led by State Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) about 80 locals gathered in the cold at the “Save Ocean Parkway” rally to protest the DOT's plan to eliminate right turns at key intersections on Ocean Parkway in the Midwood section of Brooklyn.
Despite receiving calls from the city asking him to cancel the rally, Hikind was joined by Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Councilmember Chaim Deutsch, Councilmember Mark Treyger and other local community leaders.
“Eliminating right turns will only endanger the safety of motorists, children and their families who live adjacent to Ocean Parkway, and will undoubtedly create havoc for all,” said Hikind. “Let your voice be heard! No more no turns!”
The DOT intends to prohibit right turns from Ocean Parkway’s main artery to Avenues C, J, P and Kings Highway. The change will force drivers to turn off the main road onto Ocean Parkway’s service lane one block before they intend to make a right turn, a change that the DOT believes will make Ocean Parkway safer.
But residents fear this change will create traffic jams in already congested lanes as wells as make it harder for emergency vehicles to get through.
“The concept of Vision Zero should not make zero common sense,” said Treyger in reference to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s city wide plan to eliminate traffic fatalities. He called on the city to focus its efforts rather on repaving the streets, filling potholes and fixing benches.
In 2015, the DOT presented a two-year, $15 million Ocean Parkway Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety Improvement Project, which is set to bring changes to Ocean Parkway by February 2017. However, the plan to prohibit right turns was never mentioned.
According to Hikind, even Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was unaware of these changes.
“If you’re going to spend millions of dollars, please get it right,” said Yidel Perlstein, Community Board 12’s chairperson.
According to Hikind, even the Brooklyn Borough President was unaware of the implementation of these changes.
Over the past few months, Ocean Parkway residents have become infuriated with some of the changes implemented on the major roadway. A ten mile per hour drop in the speed limit, which now stands at 25 miles per hour, was such a frustrating change for community members that it prompted them to circulate a petition asking the city to change the speed limit back to 35 miles per hour.
According to Hikind, in this 34 years in public office, he has never received such an overwhelming public response to an issue.
“We need to make our voices heard loud and clear,” Deutsch told those gathered yesterday.
Although Hikind said he doesn’t know why the city made this change, he was furious that he received calls from the city asking him to cancel the rally.
“What the hell is that all about?” Hikind said. “It makes me sick.”