Residents, activists, and elected officials alike gathered at the corner of Bayard Street and McGuinness Boulevard on Thursday evening to kick off a rally and march down the notorious thoroughfare.

Supporters of the Make McGuinness Safe movement, many of whom held up signs with the names of those who had been killed on the street, solemnly noted the deliberate choice of the spot, as that particular intersection was where beloved local teacher Matthew Jensen was killed in 2021.

The evening’s march served as a rebuttal to an earlier, oppositional meeting hosted at Broadway Stages that morning. The meeting ostensibly functioned as a town hall with DOT officials and other electeds, though some Make McGuinness Safe supporters said they were barred from entering.

“The status quo is literally killing us,” said Council Member Lincoln Restler ahead of the march. “We demand change.” The council member noted that while there was room to find more common ground as the DOT finalizes the redesign, he was unwilling to compromise on the plan’s overall vision of street safety.

State Senator Kristen Gonzalez started her speech by leading a chant to “Make McGuinness Safe.”


“Our collective voices are louder than the dissenters right now,” she said, “I am so, so tired, and I know you are too, of seeing how corporations want to put their profits over people’s lives.”

“We’ve been coming out here for over 15 years, trying to get this street to be improved,” said Assemblymember Emily Gallagher, who noted that while this particular campaign sprung up a couple of years ago, neighbors have long experienced the violent effects of having such a busy street in a relatively residential neighborhood.

Over the past decade, three people have been killed in crashes on McGuinness, and between 2016 to 2020, at least 230 pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike have sustained injuries, according to data from the DOT.

“Matt’s death reignited a movement that had existed already. This existed. This community hated McGuinness Boulevard in the 1950s when it was built and they tore down 500 homes to do it and displace our neighbors, and Robert Moses didn’t care,” said Bronwyn Breitner, an activist with Make McGuinness Safe whose children were taught by Jensen at PS 110.

McGuinness Boulevard used to be a smaller street called Oakland Street, which was widened after the Pulaski Bridge opened. “All of the houses on the east side of Oakland Street and all the houses from Driggs Ave to the BQE were condemned by the City to allow for the new grand boulevard,” we wrote in 2019. “Some residents tried to fight but their utilities were cut off and resistance proved futile.”

This time, however, it doesn’t seem like the Greenpoint of the 2020s is doomed to the same fate as the Greenpoint of the 1950s. Whatever happens, Greenpoint locals across the spectrum of opinions have been loud and clear with their beliefs.

Join the Conversation


  1. It is very sad that the teacher died but wasn’t he crossing between two cars at night? Yes, the driver should have stopped but what does this have to do with a bike lane? It is very dangerous for people to cross in front of a bike lane. They do not stop. I have been hit or almost hit by bikes, not cars.

    1. Shame on you for blaming the victim, Gina. Matthew Jensen was hit by a car going 50 mph (twice the speed limit) because that’s the problem: drivers treat McGuiness as a highway. The neighborhood doesn’t need all those lanes of traffic, it just incentivizes people to use McGuiness to shave some minutes off their commute on the LIE. You and your company, Silvercup Studios East, should want Greenpoint to thrive, and you certainly should not be minimizing a beloved teacher’s death.

  2. I am not shaming a victim but it is ingenuous to say that a bike lane would stop his death. I do want Greenpoint safe that is why I am against this. Keep bikes on one-way streets and make four-way lights for people to cross.

    1. Hi Gina – no one is saying that the bike lane alone would’ve prevented Mr. Jensen’s death. The plan is more comprehensive than that: removing traffic lanes and implementing traffic calming measures would 1) move car traffic at slower speeds, 2) increase visibility for both drivers and pedestrians, and 3) de-incentivize through-traffic and decrease volume of automobiles, thus reducing the total number of collisions, injuries, and deaths. May I remind you that the DOT observed nearly one crash every other day on this 1.5 mile stretch of road? How can you blame individuals when this is clearly the fault of poor design?

      The fact that you have made an attempt to focus only on the bike lane shows that you don’t have a clear understanding of the plan, which was not created by disgruntled cyclists – it was designed by the NYC DOT, after 2 years of very specific research in the area with ALL modes of transit in mind.

      I agree with you that cyclists should obey the traffic laws and face punishment if they fail to do so. But consider this: a collision between cyclist and pedestrian can be dangerous, yes, but the odds of fatality are astronomically lower than a collision between automobile and pedestrian.

      Face the facts, Gina: it’s a dangerous stretch of road and must be changed. Everyone knows this and I’d bet that on some level, you do too. How many more deaths and injuries until you come around?

    2. It’s not the bike lane itself that will stop deaths of pedestrians. It’s the vehicle lane reduction to one lane each way with a curb and a row of parked cars on either side. Have you ever tried speeding on a narrow one-lane road? It’s much harder to do than when you have two lanes at your disposal.

      The bike lane is merely the benefactor of the extra space.

  3. Heard of those for the change ripping off signs of those against. Really? How about trying to work together to make a positive change? Oh, the other side doesn’t want to listen. But when I read what those for the change say or write, doesn’t seem as if you want to listen either. Those against the change are shamed. Works both ways. Hear yourselves out. Once the change is made and I have some criticism or helpful criticism about it, will I be listened to or made to feel bad?

  4. 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.

  5. Still if Matthew Jensen obeyed traffic laws then he would not have been hit by the car. All McGuinness Boulevard needs is speed cameras and speed bumps. Much of the congestion on McGuinness Boulevard now is due to all the new construction going on. We also need turning lanes and signals on each corner. If bicyclists want safety, then they should all get a license and license plate that proves that they can adhere to rules of the road and be accountable for their actions.

  6. Activists refuse to believe residents don’t want this.
    Trans Alt and its Lyft funded marches are agenda driven not what’s good.

  7. Bill de Blasio policy adviser Lincoln Restler (not pictured) came under fire for sharing this photograph of his family at a pro-immigration rally where his sister Victoria held up a ‘f*** whiteness’ sign

    Trolls went as far as to label the family racist in aggressive comments which flooded his page.

  8. Greenpoint for a neighborhood has the worst air quality along with Williamsburg in the city , apart from being a superfund site that will take another 50 years to clean up it is not a safe place to live. McGuinness Blvd has been an urban disaster for many decades . It’s dangerous , in my 40 years in the area I’ve only seen the ugly side of it . Time for a break in our area. Younger kids coming in . Cleaner air .. less trucks .
    The company’s that are afraid they will loose much are mistaken . Not sure how many live here.

  9. Over 7 people have died of cancer in my block including my wife. Mostly women . Quite a few are survivors.
    I am not sure why making the blvd safer in air quality is such an issue. Count the white bikes in our area , many have been removed . It’s time to change the way we think how we can live in this neighborhood.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *