Feature

New York City's 'adorable' haiku traffic signs

As they navigate the Big Apple's crowded streets, will busy urbanites heed poetic safety warnings?

The image: By rewriting traditional street-sign warnings in haiku form, New York City is using poetry to urge motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians to think about safety. (See one of the 200 new signs below.) City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan unveiled the new Curbside Haiku campaign on Tuesday, saying the city is "putting poetry into motion with public art to make New York City's streets even safer." Artist John Morse created the signs' poetic messages, some in Spanish, and accompanying illustrations. In one instance, the silhouette of a walking man is paired with this haiku: "Too averse to risk/To chance the lottery, yet/Steps into traffic." Another of the 8" by 8" signs says: "A sudden car door/Cyclist's story rewritten/Fractured narrative."

The reaction: These "signs are adorable," says Jen Doll at The Village Voice. Though they're also "a bit of a downer. (Oncoming cars rush/Each a 3-ton bullet/And you, flesh and bone.) Ouch." What a terrible idea, says Howard Portnoy at Hot Air. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has come up with a lot of "misguided, feel-good, '70s-ish initiatives that accomplish nothing beyond wasting taxpayer dollars," but this one tops them all. Or to put it another way: "How much can one burg/Strapped for cash, waste on trifles/Before it goes broke?" It's actually hard to knock this $25,000 project, paid for with a state grant, if it helps "curb horrific traffic fatalities," says Jennifer Fermino at the New York Post. Judge for yourself:

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