In a delightfully unexpected and somewhat strange move, the New York City Department of Transportation has released a city-wide safety focused art installation called “Curbside Haiku.” The installation is comprised of twelve brightly colored street signs designed by artist John Morse that depict different dangerous street scenes involving cars, bikes and pedestrians, and each sign is accompanied by an explanatory haiku. The signs are a move to promote awareness among all travelers in the city that getting around the city in a safe and respectful manner is key to minimizing accidents. The best part about the campaign is that it manages to not point fingers in any one direction, but simply states in simple 5, 7, 5 verse that we could all be doing a better job of sharing the street.

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The signs are hung in locations throughout the city, and the DOT has posted a list of them, in case you’d like to see them in person. In some cases, the signs are hung with image and text side by side, and in other cases the image has a QR code embedded in it for onlookers to discover the haiku on their own. The signs were financed in a partnership with the Safe Street Fund, a public private partnership that seeks to improve safety on the street through education. The city’s part of funding for the project came from traffic violation fines.

NYC DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has been credited with improving bike safety and bike lane access throughout the city. She’s a stalwart warrior for those who believe that the city’s roadways don’t just belong to cars. “We’re putting poetry into motion with public art to make New York City’s streets even safer,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “These signs complement our engineering and education efforts to create a steady rhythm for safer streets in all five boroughs.” The signs insert a bit of humor into the conversation as well as a pop of color. One of the signs depicts a group of pedestrians attempting to outrun a car with the accompanying haiku,

Cars crossing sidewalk:
Worst New York City hotspot
To run into friends

In order to make our streets safer for everyone that uses them, awareness and education are key. This unconventional campaign is sure to catch the eye of passers-by and if nothing else spark a note in their brain that perhaps safety on the street is something that everyone should think of.

+ Safer Street Fund

+ Curbside Haiku

Via Core 77