City Deploys Power of Haikus to Promote Street Safety

11/30/2011 1:50 PM |

(Courtesy John Morse, DOT)

  • (Courtesy John Morse, DOT)

Because every other method of promoting civil street behavior has failed—including traffic-calming bike lanes, thickly painted lines, traffic signals of all sorts and even human decency—the city’s Department of Transportation has called upon the timeless power of poetry to bring order to the streets. The DOT just launched its new Curbside Haiku campaign, in which artist John Morse combines haikus and vintage-looking road safety designs.

This campaign would be much more fun to ridicule if the haikus weren’t actually really, really good—and the illustrations pleasantly Saul Bass-y. A personal favorite reads:

A sudden car door,
Cyclist’s story rewritten.
Fractured narrative.

Some of the visuals are self-explanatory, like a bike with a crumpled front wheel, or another with a silhouette figure walking in front of a giant red hand, while others are downright surreal. In one, a determined walker has a die for a head. Elsewhere, a car is about to hit a group of pedestrians congregating under a disco ball. Check out all twelve designs here, and for a list of their locations throughout the city click here.

If this campaign doesn’t catch on, we recommend that the DOT try using a more dignified literary form, like a rondelet, the elegy, or the epic poem.