Traffic safety haiku!

New York City’s began installing small, colorful signs with poetic safety messages at high collision rate locations to remind walkers and cyclists to watch for hazardous death monsters.

The signs feature either a haiku – a Japanese inspired poem with 17 syllables on three lines of text — or a QR code so you can read the haiku on your mobile device.

The various haiku in both English and Spanish remind:

  • cyclists to watch for walkers in the bike lane and on crosswalks
  • cyclists to watch for opening car doors
  • pedestrians that drivers often encroach into pedestrian zones
  • pedestrians to watch for traffic

More –> NY Daily News: Transportation chief Janette Sadik-Khan says city will use haiku to boost street safety. Via Grist (which was written almost entirely has a series of haiku!) and Bike Milton.


  1. I really like the signs, though their tone also disturbs me as I think about them more. Every single one is oriented toward the victims of motorist behavior. Not one suggests, for example, that motorists should look for pedestrians before making a turn. Imagine the reaction to a similarly oriented anti-rape campaign. “Don’t wear revealing clothes!”

  2. I agree with steve_a_dfw – the responsibility is for the pedestrian and cyclist to watch for irresponsible and dangerous car behavior but there are no messages or campaigns aimed at making drivers safer. Especially in a city like New York, where pedestrians and cyclists are in high volume, safe motorist behavior should be enforced. It is not the pedestrian’s responsibility to watch out for motorists who encroach in walkways. Rather, the motorists should be ticketed for encroaching in walkways. Cyclists are always mindful of the random car door opening but why not have a campaign aimed at teaching car passengers to look before opening a door. If we attacked dangerous road behavior from both sides – the motorist and non-motorist – the streets are safer for all. 

  3. • Once upon a time, a fellow named Aaron got so upset at the honking in his Brooklyn neighborhood that he decided to write haikus about it: — which eventually led to a gig writing bike and transpo columns, which in turn led to him being the founding editor of Streetsblog.

    A little later, in another part of Brooklyn, a fellow named Clarence was more into video and was putting together a great local cable show called BikeTV.  This featured a bikeku in every episode.  He later became a founding contributor to Streetfilms.

    Nice to see the city catching up. 😉

  4. I think they’re aimed at pedestrians and cyclists who would be stopped/going slow enough to read the haikus.

    I am perfectly content not to have any haikus directed at drivers, since I don’t want them hitting me because they’re reading poems!  I would like to see a similarly inventive campaign targeting drivers though.

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