By Bronwyn Breitner

Bronwyn Breitner is a 19-year resident of North Brooklyn and a founding member of Make McGuinness Safe. She is also an architect, a local business owner, and a mother of two PS110 students.

Neighbors, those of us who advocate for a safe McGuinness Boulevard want you to know that our advocacy has never been simply about a bike lane. We advocate for safety — for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike. We advocate for service — for a road that serves all local residents and businesses. We advocate for what DOT labels the “Plan B” design which is centered around converting the boulevard to a two-lane street, making McGuinness slow and safe. And while Plan B does include a bike lane, it must not be confused with the dysfunctional, conflict-ridden road design we’re seeing installed now. 

McGuinness is unsafe due to the highway-like, passing-lane design of the street. On average there is a crash every other day on McGuinness and an injury once a week — the status quo is simply unacceptable. Many of the vehicles on the road — over 30% according to the DOT — are using it to connect from one highway to another, and their driving reflects this through high speeds and the need to “beat the light.” This is what injures and kills our neighbors, because vehicle speed at the time of impact determines whether a person will live or die. A person hit by a car traveling at 35 miles per hour is five times more likely to die than a person hit by a car traveling at 20 miles per hour. Removing a travel lane, also known as a “road diet”, is the cornerstone of the Make McGuinness Safe advocacy because it eliminates passing lanes, and the culture of speed, through design. 

“Plan A”, the compromise plan now installed north of Calyer, does not remove travel lanes or slow the speed of vehicles on McGuinness. The exact thing that has been injuring and killing our neighbors for 70 years, that is responsible for 14 deaths since 1995, and that neighbors have been organizing against since the day the blvd was built, is left entirely unaddressed in this plan. So while the bike lane theoretically provides an asset to our cycling community, Plan A misses the mark for safety and for service in nearly every other way. Here’s why:


Pedestrian safety is not addressed

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users. A key safety benefit of Plan B is safer intersections, with shorter crosswalks and better visibility between cars, cyclists, and pedestrians. Plan A does not allow for this. Instead, it creates confusion and unnecessary conflict between everyone on the road. Conflict is what causes crashes, injuries, and death. 

We lost parking

Plan B preserves parking on the entire length of McGuinness. The parked cars serve to protect the bike lane, while the single travel lane serves local drivers. Because Plan A prioritizes moving vehicles throughout the day and maintains four travel lanes, our neighbors need to move their parked cars by 7 a.m. every weekday. Plan B represents a simple and equitable use of the road. Plan A is confusing and only benefits cut-thru traffic.

There are no loading zones

Our community was forced into this poor compromise because of the purported concerns of local businesses using the truck route (actually, DOT’s recent data showed that local businesses don’t even use McGuinness). Plan B includes loading zones on every block for cars and trucks to pull over to make deliveries and pickups. Because there are still two travel lanes in Plan A in each direction, there’s no place for loading zones. The result? Delivery trucks are standing in the moving lane or the bike lane and creating chaos on the road. Plan A is in fact the plan that does not serve our local businesses!

The cut-through traffic remains

Our neighborhood suffers from poor air quality, ranking 5th out of the 51 city council districts for air pollution. Implementing Plan B will deter many cars from using our local road as a shortcut between highways, according to experts at DOT. Fewer cars on McGuinness means lower vehicle emissions and improved air quality. Plan A has zero impact on minimizing cut-through traffic and offers no improvement to our air quality and quality of life.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity, with millions of dollars on the line, to build a safer, greener, cleaner, quieter McGuinness Boulevard. The best choice for the design is easy and clear, even more so now that we are suffering the consequences of a watered-down compromise plan.

You know who we are. You’ve seen us at the farmer’s markets for over two and a half years. We are your neighbors. We are local parents. We are grandparents. We are also the people who need to cross this highway every day, and who have to tell our children to wait long after the walk signal on McGuinness before we actually cross. Some of us have lived here for decades and some just for a few years. We own. We rent. We drive. We cycle. Some of us are Polish and some are not. Whether we were born in Greenpoint, our children were born in Greenpoint or we were born somewhere else — who cares? We all live here, together, and we are advocating for your safety and for the safety of all of Greenpoint. 

And the truth is that many of us didn’t believe a road diet would work at first. Until we researched and saw precedents. Until we listened to experts and data and saw that it does work and that it will work. We realized that we can take back our neighborhood for the people who live here and the businesses that thrive here. A safe and functional McGuinness is possible. We almost had it, and we still can.

Greenpoint, we are here for you all in good faith. While we understand that not everyone will agree on a plan, we also know that we would never have gotten as far as we have without the thousands and thousands of you who have signed our petition supporting a safe, local street on McGuinness Boulevard. If you want to connect, please email us at

Op-eds are submitted by community members and do not necessarily reflect the views or beliefs of Greenpointers staff. Email for a chance to publish your opinion.

Join the Conversation


  1. You people, have no understanding of the neighborhood. First thing all bicyclists should use the existing bike lane two blocks up from the Guinness boulevard on Leonard Street that has been there and not been used properly since they ride down Manhattan avenue illegally. We need police to take it all unlicensed scooters, and ticket bicyclists who damn right down Manhattan avenue which is not the bike lane in the section between the bridge and meeker avenue. Stop messing with McGinnis boulevard because bikers disobey the law and Democrats do not punish anyone for breaking the law. #Vote Republican

      1. Sorry you are obviously a college educated democrat, who has never owned the car, and has never lived in the neighborhood 66 years like I did. For spelling I do not type in I use voice typing. And unlike you I cannot afford a phone more expensive than the $60 Android I bought. Smart people like you cannot attack me on the facts, so you got a button and talk about spelling and relationship to a comment that is not only true that is the solution to the problem. Stop spending my tax dollars and hindering tax paying Auto owners for the sake of Jay walkers and bikers who break the law by going down the wrong Street presently Leonard Street is the bike lane. Or didn’t you know that.? However I’m in the phone book if you want to call and discuss this like two adults just look up my name.

      2. Just a thought, what is your steak in this proposed bike lane on McGinnis boulevard, do you work for the construction company, or are you a biker that’s too lazy to go up two blocks and use an existing bike lane to save millions of dollars and inconvenience to the drivers who pay so many taxes and fees to New York city and state for their car. Or are you just a cruel den who just wants to produce chaos in this country and have allegiance with the C.C.P. did I spell the last three letters correctly.

  2. It is great to know you want safety. So do all of us. I still think bike lanes should not be on major roads. Why not make a one-way street in each direction for bikes and only parking or deliveries for residents? Have 4-way lights near big intersections where no vehicles are moving so people safely can cross. I know you guys don’t like to admit it but this change to McGuiness affects businesses, greatly. We are in a very big city and need trucks to deliver goods. The traffic is horrendous and this makes it even worse. Traffic makes drivers angry and desperate to make their deliveries on time. (yes, of course, they should drive safely but so should bike riders and that doesn’t always happen) Why make it harder? Not to mention that very close to McGuinness there are two-draw bridges that cause even worse traffic when they go up. This happens multiple times an hour during business hours. Traffic backs up for miles. Bike lanes belong on one-way streets. It is safer for everyone.

    1. Dear Gina S. Do you live in greenpoint? I do and have for 66 years in the same apartment on Kent Street. Don’t you guys know that they put a beautiful bike lane in on Leonard Street between Greenpoint avenue that goes all the way down to meeker avenue. Leonard Street is a beautiful tree line one lane One Way st. McGuinness boulevard is an emergency thoroughfare, that is there to provide faster access for ambulances and fire engines. As far as pedestrians go, we used to and they should start giving people jaywalking tickets, and put on TV and radio the old saying, don’t cross the street in the middle in the middle in the middle of the block, always cross in the crosswalk. As far as speeding goes they can put in speed cameras cheaply, and have State Police with radar guns getting out speeding tickets. After one year after one year

  3. How many individuals cross McGuinness Boulevard between Green Street and Greenpoint Avenue, particularly within the designated Industrial Business Zone? The current pedestrian activity in this stretch appears insufficient to warrant a redesign. Similarly, the utilization of the newly implemented bike lanes seems limited, with only a few bikers observed since their installation. Consideration should be given to having a single bike lane, either northbound or southbound, to accommodate bike traffic in both directions.
    Restricting McGuinness to a single lane will not dissuade drivers from using it, but it could exacerbate congestion, leading to increased idling and, consequently, a greater impact on air quality. McGuinness is essentially a one-lane street now, with ongoing construction limiting the use of the second lane. In light of the insights gained from this “pilot phase,” I would appreciate alternative proposals from the DOT.

  4. Totally agree with your article, Bronwyn. I’m a 20 year resident of Greenpoint and have been eager to see McGuinness become safer. One lane each way is the way to go with protected bike lanes. Many other parts of the City have done this with much success. It’s time our neighborhood get reconnected too. Thanks for writing the article.

  5. While its intentions are good, this is the least well thought-out plan I can imagine. Making McGuinness one lane each way will create a cascading set of problems, so obvious to us long time residents.

    This will not deter many drivers from using McGuinness, which is not used as a between-highway shortcut, but is a vital pathway between boroughs. Anyone who could avoid that traffic would. What it will do is create a traffic jam that will be backed up across the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge and on the McGuinness Blvd exit on The BQE.

    Idling commercial traffic that’ll still need to use McGuinness, stuck in the logjam of a two lane street, will have to spend more time on it and spew even more exhaust into our community’s air. It will also create a lot of angry and impatient drivers who will detour to our side streets.

    Coming off the bridge, drivers will use Freeman, Huron, Manhattan Ave and especially Franklin Street (which already is the scene of aggressive and speeding drivers) to detour around the traffic jammed McGuinness. Streets like Newel, Eckford, Leonard will also be jammed with pissed off drivers trying to beat the stalled traffic on McGuinness. It’s a guaranteed increase in pollution and danger.

    It seems obvious that the planners of this debacle didn’t really bother to take a realistic look at the traffic on McGuinness and realize it will not deter most drivers who need to use it. I doubt of many of the enthusiasts of the this ill-conceived idea own cars, and wonder if they even live in the effected neighborhood. The problems that will be caused by this are self-evident.

    I’ve lived in Greenpoint since 1996. I take the G or buses, prefer to ride a bicycle for shopping here, and own a car I need for business that I only use when necessary. Yes, we need to find transportation alternatives to gasoline powered vehicles, which are killing our planet. But changing McGuinness to one lane will only add to pollution and make our local streets even more dangerous.

    I have family in Berkeley, California so I visit there frequently. Side streets parallel to heavily trafficked roads there are designated “Bicycle Boulevards” and feature expanded bike lanes. These do share traffic with cars, but most drivers out there are thoughtful and avoid them to let bikes have safer corridors. That could happen here.

    Even with the bike lanes on McGuinness, which seem perfectly adequate for current bicyclists, I NEVER ride my bike on that street. Even with one lane each way it wouldn’t be the kind of traffic you should bike alongside and I would find it hard to believe that there will be some magical increase in bicycle traffic.

  6. Yeah jd, I lived in Greenpoint since 1957, the Guinness boulevard is a vital link that is designated an emergency route for fire ambulance and other emergency vehicles. There’s an existing bike lane on Leonard Street and it is illegal to ride down Manhattan avenue which you bike is still do. As far as global warming, electric cars lose 30% of their battery power in cold weather, so they need more energy from coal fired power plants to keep them running in the cold. This is a true greenhouse gas emitter electric vehicles. Grow up start imposing the law on Manhattan avenue and McGuinness boulevard and ticketing and taking away the bicycles of the people illegally traveling on these roads and force them onto the existing bike lane on Leonard street. Stop spending and wasting taxpayer dollars which are mostly put in by automobile owners and nothing from bicycles. Cut the crap available stop the nonsense keep greenpoints safe for emergency vehicle response.

  7. Bravo, Boss. They keep talking about safety but their real aim is to force everyone to eliminate cars and to use bikes. Not all of us can use bikes. The roads are terrible for bicycling. Many are too old, handicapped or otherwise unable to ride. The winters are not good for bicycle riding. I almost hit a man riding two of his kids, one in front of him and one behind who did not stop at the stop light. This was in the very industrial “East Williamsburg” area full of trucks. I yelled at him that he was going to get his kids killed. He just gave me a smug look. Stop the insanity.
    Make cyclists and moped riders have insurance and licenses. Give traffic officers the ability to write tickets and enforce the laws already there.

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