New York City Introduces Haiku Poetry Signs to Promote Traffic Safety

New York City Department of Transportation announced on Tuesday a new traffic safety campaign called “Curbside Haiku.”

The department is installing 216 signs featuring colorful artwork and haiku poems at high-crash locations near cultural institutions and schools citywide.

“We’re putting poetry into motion with public art to make New York City’s streets even safer,” said department commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. “These signs complement our engineering and education efforts to create a steady rhythm for safer streets in all five boroughs.”

These poetic signs will deliver safety messages for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists.

For example, a sign featuring the silhouette of walking man is paired with the following haiku to remind pedestrians to follow and respect traffic safety rules when crossing the street: “Too averse to risk / To chance the lottery, yet / Steps into traffic.”

Another poem asks bicyclists to beware of open car doors: “A sudden car door/ Cyclist’s story rewritten/ Fractured narrative.”

John Morse/Courtesy of NYC Department of Transportation

“Curbside Haiku seeks to merge public art with public awareness to infuse a bit of beauty and joy into the public sphere with the images while underscoring the realities of the message with poetry,” said John Morse, the artist who designed these safety signs.

The signs are being installed in all five city boroughs, including near Brooklyn’s Transit Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Bronx Museum/Grand Concourse, New York Botanical Garden and Manhattan’s Studio Museum of Harlem.