The McGuinness Boulevard redesign has been a controversial issue for over a year now, and tensions between members of two opposing advocacy groups—Make McGuinness Safe and Keep McGuinness Moving—rose this past Tuesday during a march and rally hosted by the latter group.

Keep McGuinness Moving. Photo: Charles Eisenbach

As previously reported, Keep McGuinness Moving—in favor of keeping the boulevard as is with four-lane traffic and parking on each side—hosted a march and rally outside Key Food on Tuesday, September 12, with the goal of sharing their dissatisfaction with the recently amended compromise plan with the NYC Department of Transportation, Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, and Council Member Lincoln Restler.

During the march, around 20 Make McGuinness Safe members also showed up to counter protest, holding signs bearing the names of those who had been killed on McGuinness, including PS 110 teacher Matthew Jensen, Neil Chamberlain, Nicole Detweiler, and others while joining the crowd.

Photo: @makemcguinnesssafe on Instagram

“We had no intention of disrupting their rally, we’ve attended many of their events. It’s important to hear what people are saying from the other side,” Bronwyn Breitner, a Greenpoint resident of 18 years, PS 110 parent, and co-creator of Make McGuinness Safe said of the group’s presence at the march. “We didn’t publicize our attendance and did not intend to engage with any of the rally attendees, but we felt it was important for people to know that we are certainly not going to stop fighting for a safe street.”

It was at this point that the groups began to clash, with Keep McGuinness Moving supporters grabbing and tearing signs of the opposition while supporters of Make McGuinness Safe reportedly shouted while Christine Holowacz—51-year Greenpoint resident and local activist—gave a speech opposing the redesign (this was also corroborated in a direct message from a Key Food shopper who wishes to remain anonymous).


“This is about more than just bike lanes and shrinking the road. This is about our community’s well-being. This is about forces that want to change our community forever,” Holowacz said, according to journalist Christopher Robbins with Hell Gate NYC. “This is about forces that want to change the village-like neighborhood into Manhattan. And we won’t allow it.”

Monica Holowacz, Christine’s daughter, Broadway Stages (the Greenpoint-based film production company and significant supporter of Keep McGuinness Moving) community relations director, and lifetime Greenpoint resident, voiced her displeasure with how the evening unfolded, citing what she considers a lack of respect from counter protesters.

“It was just entirely inappropriate,” Holowacz said. “It just didn’t seem cool that they would come over and do something like that. Nobody gave any concern to the constituents or members that were there for that reason. They had a motive to make sure their photo was taken and their posters were seen and to make sure that they disrupted, which I think is unfair and inappropriate for all the people that actually took time who believe in this cause.”

If there’s one thing both sides of the aisle can agree on, it’s their unhappiness with the newest redesign plan, at least, though the path forward remains unclear.

Signs by Keep McGuinness Moving were left outside of Assembly Member Emily Gallagher’s office this past Tuesday

“The compromise plan is a real disappointment,” Breitner said. “I feel like the idea that traffic will build up on McGuinness is a knee-jerk reaction—that was my first reaction when somebody told me what a road diet is—so I get that, but when you do a little research and work for two and a half years as we have to understand what it is and what the precedents and implications and numbers and benefits are. So this whole thing is this is is just this false choice between them and us, and we really can have it all.”

“This needs to be a new plan,” Holowacz said. “We all want to make the street safe and functional, we wish that everybody could work together, but it just seems that there’s certain people that are advocating for it not to be that way.”

Join the Conversation


  1. Are you really quoting a Broadway Stages employee, the company that is funding this entire opposition campaign and ALSO benefitted from the DOT compromise? Also, who cares if you’ve been here for 50 years and love having a 4 lane highway cut through your neighborhood – its dangerous, dirty and needs to get a road diet with protected bike lanes ASAP.

    1. I was there and not because of Tony. I am tired of the minority of people thinking that bike lanes should all over the city on industrial streets. THAT is the real reason so many have been hit or died. Trucks have trouble seeing on either side of them. Bikes should be on the side streets.

    1. That’s pretty much the revised plan. One lane each way on weekends and nights, two on weekdays and only north of Calyer. It can be undone in a week. But somehow this still isn’t good enough?

  2. It’s good to see coverage of this issue in Greenpoints, but would be even better to highlight that Keep McGuinness Moving is an astroturf organization.

    It is not fair to represent the side that have been advocating for years, has full support of multi-year DOT studies and all elected representatives as somehow being on the same level as the side that is trying to throw the project under the bus by lying about it and subverting the democratic process by making backroom deal with a known opponent of street safety Lewis-Martin.

  3. What about all the kids that attend PS 34 Perry Hazard Elementary school plus teachers breathing the toxic air that trucks and cars all day spew into the air. Safe? Not to mention there was a man killed on that corner on a bicycle not long ago by a truck! It’s time to change the the 4 lane highway. Let’s give it a try.

  4. Gs 13 has a point . Industrial Streets are not appropriate for bike lanes . Greenpoint Avenue has one but if you ride to work that way .. true your life is in danger. There was another fatality near the Broadway studios .. I guess people in power did not think it made sense to make one! There are not even sidewalks . Maybe near the hotel on Norman Avenue.
    Greenpoint is an industrial area. Change is difficult.

  5. I hope the rally gets this dialogue closer to at least a few facts : This is about a real difference between actual neighbors and local employers both who have members on both sides of this issue .Not between some individual business and the community as seems to be one sides approach .Honest disagreement and respect with an openness to look for a fair solution would reflect well on our community .Maybe try this for a bit ? . Here’s a fact that may surprise many but should be good news for everyone I hope: :Mc Guinness Blvd collisions as reported thru September 3 2023 are showing a large drop in collisions year to date( 8months in) .These numbers include no deaths and 1 bike collision and 4 pedestrians all down from last year to date. .Maybe we could all focus some of our energy on working with DOT andNYPDto figure out if some of the initial changes at McGuinness are actually working and if so could they be applied elsewhere on the Blvd ? Please change those signs to 6.25 collisions a month on McGuinness not the weekly number should you want to be current and accurate .Hard stuff when a community is truly divided .

  6. No one is stopping Broadway Stages from doing business or making money. Why are people listening to them? Their trucks can access just fine under the original road diet plan. It’s the dumbest idea to make a compromise to the road diet. It’s now – not a road diet. All the research that DOT has done, researching traffic movement etc wasted on people not understanding what a road diet is and how it works. The compromised thinking won’t work. Wish people would research for 2minutes how road diets work. People should be reporting on and talking about how road diets actually work. Too much hyperbole.

  7. Pathetic to see the same lies put out over and over and over. People who only follow, need to do their own research on exactly who is funded by who. They will be shocked to see who is behind these MMS members. Do your own research!

    I accept those coming to voice a differing opinion, but not to try to shut us up!! Muscling people out of their way & aggressively pushing themselves onto others, while shoving signs into their faces so that they actually get hit with them is not acceptable! Lying about it afterwards is the worst. Wake up everyone, they take TA classes to learn how to do this.
    Do your OWN research before you start following anyone!

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