Hoping Haiku Makes Driving Safer

Daily News | November 29, 2011

By Tina Moore

Street haiku to warn

Walkers, riders and drivers

Using pictures, quips.

The city's Department of Transportation is waxing poetic in the interest of public safety with a series of signs that are being installed at high-crash locations.

Paid for with a state grant from DWI funds, the 216 signs feature 12 designs with haiku -- Japanese-style short poems that will deliver critical safety messages. The city first unveiled Curbside Haiku on Tuesday in Harlem.

"Adding curbside haiku is really just adding another level of safety to high-crash sites," DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said.

She said the colorful signs wouldn't distract drivers because they are small -- 8-by-8 inches.

In one, a silhouette of "Walking Man" is paired with the haiku:

"Too averse to risk

To chance the lottery, yet

Steps into traffic."

In another, the haiku reads:

"A sudden car door,

Cyclist's story rewritten.

Fractured narrative."

Half of the signs, designed by artist John Morse, have the haiku posted right next to them, while the other half use just a scannable bar code and a picture to get the message across.

signs, designed by artist John Morse, have the haiku posted right next to them, while other use just a scan nable bar code and a picture to get the message across.

The agency selected locations based on an analysis of crashes near various cultural institutions and schools. They were expected to be on display until next fall.

The advocacy group Transportation Alternatives shot back with its own haiku regarding the signs:

"Safe street designs: check.

But where is the enforcement?

It's your turn, police."