Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Bike Lanes

SPLIT THE BABY: DOT Sacrifices Safety on McGuinness to Appease Redesign Opponents

The Adams administration's watered down redesign of Brooklyn's McGuinness Boulevard cedes ground to the project's opponents.

Hundreds of people rallied on July 13 in support of safety improvements on McGuinness Boulevard. Photo: Josh Katz

The Adams administration on Monday revealed a scaled-back redesign of McGuinness Boulevard that would keep two car lanes in either direction on the northern end of the dangerous Greenpoint, Brooklyn, roadway — ceding ground to politically connected opponents who are dead-set against the city's proposal to calm the street by swapping car lanes for bike lanes and pedestrian space.

Instead of removing a lane of traffic in each direction and installing two parking-protected bike lanes on either side of the corridor as initially proposed, Adams and company may opt to keep two lanes north of Greenpoint Avenue open to cars and trucks from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., officials told activists from both sides of the proposal at a closed-door meeting on Monday, which was first reported by The City's Gwynne Hogan:

The northern blocks would retain vehicle capacity during the daytime hours under the city's new plan, with one of the two travel lanes on either side converted to parking overnight, according to a person who attended the meeting but asked to remain anonymous in order to discuss the presentation freely.

Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez hosted the July 31 gathering, which lasted nearly two hours, the person who attended said. DOT staff and officials from the mayor's office — including an aide to mayoral advisor Ingrid Lewis-Martin — also attended. Lewis-Martin, one of the most influential figures in City Hall, has privately lobbied against the McGuinness redesign, Streetsblog previously reported.

The area of McGuinness Boulevard DOT plans to redesign. Map: DOT

The city's latest pivot comes a month after Mayor Adams — whose own administration put forward the redesign — reversed course and ordered DOT to come up with an alternative, bowing to resistance from the Argento family, influential political donors which own several filming sound stages in the area under the moniker Broadway Stages.

Adams's predecessor, Bill de Blasio, put DOT to work on the concept nearly two years ago after after the vehicular killing of beloved local teacher Matthew Jensen in 2021, who was fatally struck by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the chaotic corridor.

Officials presented their then-final plan this past May to reduce the highway-like street from two lanes in each direction to one, while adding a parking-protected bike lanes along the curb and shortening crossing distances for pedestrians.

The city's new, revised plan is a mix of two options for the strip that officials presented in 2022 but had opted against — "plan B" for most of McGuinness as the agency originally intended, and "plan A" for the strip north of Greenpoint Avenue:

Officials initially chose Plan A from three options for traffic calming on McGuinness Boulevard. They now now plan to pursue a version of Plan A north of Greenpoint Avenue. Graphic: DOT

DOT's weakened design reflects a "need" to "serve" the adjacent industrial zone in the northeastern quadrant of the neighborhood, officials told the attendees at Monday's closed-door confab.

But Rodriguez refused to oblige opponents' wish for the city to leave the deadly road as it — saying doing so was "not an option," the source who attended said.

Officials did not give attendees a timeline for the project, but noted that it will be too cold to repaint the street after road marking season ends in the fall — which the source took to mean officials aim to complete the project this year.

The 15 blocks of McGuinness between the BQE and the Pulaski Bridge saw 1,707 reported crashes in the last decade, resulting in 390 injuries and three deaths, according to NYPD stats. Road diets like the one initially proposed have shown to cut traffic deaths and injuries by 30 percent, according to DOT studies.

Advocates in favor of the original redesign expressed dismay that the city watered down its plans in response to the backlash — as well as relief that officials remain committed to the original design for the majority of the road.

"It’s a less-than-ideal plan compared to what has been worked on for the last two years. They’re making most of McGuinness safe, but not all of it," said Greenpoint resident Kevin LaCherra of pro-bike lane group Make McGuinness Safe.

The previous proposal would have benefitted businesses and truck traffic by adding loading zones to each block, said LaCherra, who did not attend the meeting with DOT and City Hall.

"This is the compromise plan of the compromise plan," LaCherra added.

A group of parents in favor of the redesign plans to meet with the mayor on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the main group opposed to the redesign, Keep McGuinness Moving, said they are reviewing the plans.

"Any plan that helps us all achieve our goals together, allows for continued business flow and provides safe and secure access for pedestrians can very well work. Our goal is to keep McGuinness moving and make it safer for everyone," said Juda Engelmayer in a statement.

DOT and the mayor's office did not immediately provide comment.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Thursday’s Headlines: Paris is a Lot Cooler than NYC Edition

The City of Light has figured out how to reduce the heat island effect. Plus other news in today's daily digest.

July 18, 2024

Exclusive: Legal Team Announced for Suit Against Hochul’s Congestion Pricing ‘Pause’

Attorneys from three firms have inked a joint defense agreement to fight "the governor’s illegal decision to cancel congestion pricing," Comptroller Brad Lander said.

July 17, 2024

Brooklyn BP Wants Mayor Adams To Do More To Reduce Parking

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso's recommendation on City of Yes: Eliminating parking mandates is not enough!

July 17, 2024

Wednesday’s Headlines: Citi Bike By the Numbers Edition

Haters of Citi Bike are really going to detest the new website. Plus other news.

July 17, 2024

Once Again, There is More Evidence that Safer Streets Help Local Business

...and there's more insight into why people simply don't believe it.

July 17, 2024
See all posts