Never let it be said New Yorkers lack a sense of humor and an appreciation for the art of brief poetry. Specifically, I am speaking of the new Haiku inspired traffic safety signs New York City safety officials have installed near cultural institutions and schools where vehicle crashes are most common. The more than 200 new signs offer simple safety tips in the form of an illustration accompanied by a brief Haiku explaining the need for caution in the area.
It is still too early to determine if the signs are having any impact, but they are aimed at pedestrians, drivers and bicyclists, so the chances are good that someone in at least one of those groups will be inspired by the quirky verse to drive, walk or bike in a safer manner when they see it. Which is a good thing.
There are so far more than 50,000 for-hire vehicles cruising through New York City on any given day. Add to that thousands of buses and tens of thousands of personal vehicles and you get an idea of just how busy the streets are in this 465 square mile region of the United States. New York City is the most populous region in the U.S. and on any given day it seems as if all of them are in their cars driving around, maybe taking in the sights or simply going to work.
Haiku has been a popular form of Japanese short-poetry for more than 1,000 years. It is still almost as relevant today as it was in the 9th century, with tens of thousands of people still actively creating new Haiku every day.
Can Haiku make a difference when it comes to traffic safety? That’s a good question. Haiku is an art. Defensive driving New York is also an art. Bringing the two together might just result in a safer experience for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists, helping them learn to share the road in peace and harmony. But only time will tell.