New York City to promote traffic and pedestrian safety—through haiku
posted at 8:05 am on November 30, 2011 by Howard Portnoy
Under the stewardship of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City has been second to none in adopting misguided, feel-good, ‘70s-ish initiatives that accomplish nothing beyond wasting taxpayer dollars. In fact, Bloomie has appropriated some of his loonier ideas from other left-leaning parts of the country.
In January of 2010, following California’s example, he launched a campaign to reduce salt consumption citywide by 25% over five years’ time. In September of that year, a time when the city was faced with a $4.5 billion-and-growing deficit, he spent $25 million to install bike lanes that have since added immeasurably to the city’s traffic congestion and increased the risk of injury for pedestrians.
Now the mayor is at it again. On Tuesday, his transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, announced that New York would be investing in a consciousness-raising traffic safety campaign that draws on the work of Atlanta artist John Morse. And how will the artist reach out to“distracted pedestrians, cyclists and drivers”? Why through haiku, of course. Poems that follow the 5-syllable, 7-syllable, 5-syllable Japanese verse form will appear on 8-inch square signs that also feature “eye-catching graphics.”
There will be 200 signs in all, posted at high-crash locations near cultural institutions and schools. Here are some examples of the haiku New Yorkers can expect to see in the coming months:
Too averse to riskTo chance the lottery, yetSteps into traffic.
A sudden car doorCyclist’s story rewritten.Fractured narrative
The concept behind the project, which is called Curbside Haiku, was borrowed from Atlanta. That city commissioned Morse in 2010 to design 500 signs for its Roadside Haiku.
It is too early to gauge the success of Curbside Haiku (which in Morse’s view includes surprising motorists with “a commentary on the urban conditition”), but in light of Americans’ general love of poetry, I would be surprised if it weren’t a smash.
I don’t profess to be a poet, but I would like to close with a haiku of my own, dedicated to Mayor Bloomberg.
How much can one burg,Strapped for cash, waste on triflesBefore it goes broke.
- 1,000 NYC pedestrians injured despite (because of?) Bloomberg’s goofy bike lanes
- A major setback for Michelle Obama’s war on salt
- ‘Midtown in Motion’: Bloomberg’s futuristic dream for controlling NYC traffic
- Starbucks, Heinz, and Subway sign on to Bloomberg’s dubious salt reduction initiative
- Salt talk: Bloomberg wants to cut salt–from YOUR diet
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