As the plan to redesign the controversial McGuinness Boulevard gets closer and closer to being implemented, several residents and businesses came together to voice their dissatisfaction directly to the City’s Department of Transportation and other North Brooklyn elected officials, who were invited to what was ostensibly an open town hall.

Local film production company Broadway Stages played host to the meeting, days after reporting from THE CITY revealed that several businesses listed as opposing the redesign had ties to Broadway Stages and its owners, the Argento family.

The large warehouse provided ample space for the well-attended event, with a crowd that skewed older, though not everyone interested in participating was allowed in. A few counter-protestors, holding signs with the names of those who had been killed on McGuinness Boulevard, said they had been prohibited from entering the event, even though they had previously registered as requested by the event’s organizers.

In an email response to Greenpointers, a Broadway Stages spokesperson reiterated that the event was public, though did not clarify the decision to prevent redesign supporters from entering the meeting.

The meeting is part of a last-ditch attempt to block the redesign process from going through, a strategy that also includes flyers, robocalls, and extensive postering around the neighborhood.


A campaign to redesign McGuinness Boulevard launched in 2021, after the tragic hit-and-run death local school teacher Matthew Jensen. After a feedback process, the DOT presented three different potential redesign approaches at a virtual meeting last summer, before landing on an option this past May. This option reduces the four-lane street into a two-lane street, adding bike lanes and pedestrian medians.

McGuinness Boulevard before and after the redesign. Image via DOT.

“I don’t think enough work has been done. I don’t think enough people have been interviewed. Most people when I tell them that this has been going on for two years, they don’t believe it,” said a participant at the event.

DOT has conducted several outreach efforts in the community over the past couple of years, including appearances at town halls, community board meetings, street outreach, an online feedback map that has collected close to 800 comments, and a survey of local businesses.

A resident identified as Bill spoke on behalf of Green Chip Recycling and Allocco Recycling. “I just think this is critically unsafe and that congestion is going to get worse,” he told the crowd.

A Teamsters representative worried that the redesign would negatively impact trucking and other industrial businesses, highlighting how the boulevard is crucial for facilitating deliveries, for families and small businesses alike. Part of the plan to redesign McGuinness includes designated loading zones for private and business use on every block, as well as protecting truck access to the North Brooklyn Industrial Business Zone.

A few participants laid blame on cyclists for unsafe conditions on McGuinness Boulevard. “When cars didn’t have seatbelts, they instituted seatbelts to keep us safe. Football players have helmets. Why don’t we make a law where these cyclists have to wear helmets, to protect their heads?” said noted environmental activist Christine Holowacz.

Holowacz lamented how divisive the issue had become in the neighborhood. “There was never a time when we couldn’t find solutions, and this is the time,” she continued.

According to DOT data, at least 30% of vehicular traffic on McGuinness Boulevard is cut-through, meaning it comes from vehicles with neither origin nor destination in Greenpoint. Part of the goal of the redesign is to redirect that type of traffic, to where it can be absorbed on the BQE, LIE, or Manhattan Avenue, though it’s also likely that the change would encourage drivers to not cut through Greenpoint at all.

Census data also reveals that more than two-thirds of households in Brooklyn’s Community Board 1, which entirely comprises Greenpoint and Williamsburg, do not have access to a car.

Though the plan appears to be in motion, Keep McGuinness Moving plans to fight it as long as they can.

“Keep McGuinness Moving has threatened to sue the DOT if the agency moves ahead with the changes as planned, according to a May 30 warning letter sent to DOT Commissioner Rodriguez from attorney Alex Berger,” reports THE CITY.

Join the Conversation


  1. And the march yesterday skewed younger. So? My concern is construction deliveries made on the boulevard and those trucks taking up the bike lane and preventing emergency vehicles getting through. Someone wrote to me that bike lanes.on Kent Ave. are all good and.let those vehicles get by with no problem. Well, today there was a FedEx truck in that lane.and bikers were traveling in the car lane. Dangerous for them. Also, must say I am worried about bikes, scooters, and ebikes in the bike lane not stopping for red lights and me.getting hit. If you’re shaking your head, more than once I crossed on a green light and got cursed out for getting “in the way” of a biker. Really? No problem with the change, as long as it is safe for ALL!

  2. Old business owners who complain about all types of progress aside, this whole backlash for the DOT plan reeks of classism. Government should nudge society towards utilitarian policies: we need fewer people in cars! Greenpoint is seeing lots of development, which means we’ll be adding even more neighbors in the coming years, most of whom do not have cars. They need to be able to cross McGuiness to get their coffee without worrying about getting hit by a car, or the environmental harms of living next to a wanna-be highway.

    Bikes don’t kill people. Requiring helmets is impractical in a city where 45,000 use a bikeshare program every day. We need to create better infrastructure for bicyclists so they don’t get run over by box trucks, and guess what.

    1. Lol. Cass Sunstein, here? “Nudge” is Communism light, where the state nudges you the way they want and assumes the citizens are too stupid to think for themselves. It’s a city, not a park. Move to the burbs already.

  3. Just a friendly reminder to our Greenpointers readers: we’re a small team, so unfortunately, we will not be able to monitor and approve comments over the weekend.

  4. I remember growing up, my mother told me not to ride my bike on some avenues… it’s really common sense… so make it one lane, back up traffic where they’ll be gridlock and pedestrians won’t be able to cross cause there’s cars and trucks in crossing lanes.. cars flooding side streets where bikes are suppose to be… I don’t get it… west, provost and side streets should be dedicated to bikes and leave the major avenues to the cars… don’t ride on major streets… we’re all gonna be pissed when the neighborhood will look like midtown for a couple of bikes…

  5. How can you call this a private event when it was publicly advertised all over the neighborhood? I didn’t pre-register, walked right in once the meeting had already started, didn’t sign in, and left without giving anyone my information. Please don’t spread false information.

  6. Liz’s experience was most peoples experience.

    If the disruptive group protesting outside weren’t allowed in that doesn’t make it a “private” event.

    Kevin got in the face of a person leaving the meeting too. They were left outside to keep the meeting safe for everyone.

    Make McGuinness Safe is tied to a powerful wealthy registered lobby group – Transportation Alternatives. If you are concerned about “private” groups expose them. MMS claims to represent the “community” then deletes comments and blocks community on social media. Brownyn told us they were a “private group” so its okay for them to do that. Their march McGuinness was made up mostly of members of TA’s online community not Greenpointers.

    Emma wouldn’t even write about Keep McGuinness Moving until we had this event.

  7. “The crash happened as the 58-year-old was attempting to cross Bayard Street and McGuiness Boulevard on May 18 around 12:45 a.m.”
    According to this news report:

    As tragic as this death is and a great loss to the community of a valuable teacher, the accident’s facts don’t line up with the need for one lane of traffic to prevent future hit-and-runs.
    As a long-time resident, I can tell you that traffic on McGuiness Blvd. is not heavy at 12:45 a.m. Am I missing something here? How is one lane going to prevent an intoxicated person (with a history of reckless driving according to reports) from speeding in a Rolls-Royce (seriously a Rolls Royce) and hitting a pedestrian in the middle of the night?

  8. “Census data also reveals that more than two-thirds of households in Brooklyn’s Community Board 1, which entirely comprises Greenpoint and Williamsburg, do not have access to a car.”

    I don’t have a car. I walk and bike and take public transportation, and I STILL think this “road diet” is a BAD plan. I depend on delivery trucks for all of my needs (groceries, pharmacy, etc.). It’s concerning that the main road into the neighborhood for most of these delivery trucks would be grossly reduced in capacity. It will likely hurt local businesses and make deliveries more difficult.
    More concerning, what happens if we have a crisis like Hurricane Sandy? How would necessities get in and out? I think all of this needs to be addressed before changes are made.

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