New York pedestrians treated to haikus in an effort to improve safety

Here and Now

See a photogallery of signs at

In New York City,
leaders are trying Haiku,
to keep us all safe.

The simple three line poems consist of two lines of five syllables surrounding a line of seven syllables.

But will they keep people safe and make them more likely to follow traffic rules. That’s the idea behind the brightly colored, attention-grabbing signs that debuted this week in New York City, designed by artist John Morse. They were installed at a cost of $25,000, paid from revenue the city collected on DUIs.

Janette Sadik-Khan, Department of Transportation Commissioner, said the goal is to get New Yorkers to watch out for one another as they drive the streets of New York City. About half of the signs will contain a standard written message, while the others will include a QR code that pedestrians can scan, in order to access the safety message.

“We’ve put them in locations where you have a lot of high schools and a lot of high crash incidents in these hot spots,” Sadik-Khan said.

She said the signs are very small and targeted at pedestrians, so they don’t face drivers on the street. The city’s goal is to cut traffic fatalaties in half by 2030, and this is part of that effort.

“We’re doing everything we can to find new ways to get that message of safety to pedestrians,” she said.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.