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New York City is one of the busiest cities in the world with 12-thousand intersections. New Yorkers' visual senses are constantly bombarded with thousands of safety signs, lights and billboards.
New Yorkers' visual senses are constantly bombarded with thousands of safety signs, lights and billboards.
And every year, about 4-thousand pedestrians are killed or seriously injured in the city. Now the city's Department of Transportation is displaying an art project throughout the city, not only to attract pedestrian's attention to poetry, but also to serve as safety reminders.
For New York City's Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, the plan is to vastly diminish the annual death toll of the street accidents. She brought poet and artist John Morse on board to bring his work to the streets as a way to increase safety awareness.
Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportaion, said, "The idea is to take a new approach and try some different ways to get the message across to pedestrians that they need to look out when they're crossing the street."
Morse came up with the idea of creating signs comprising a picture and a Haiku poem, and "Curbside Haiku" was born. He says that though it's an art project, he hasn't lost sight of the serious life and death issue of traffic safety. If his signs can save even one life, then they have served their purpose.
John Morse, Poet, New York City, said, "I got a note from a young man in Los Angeles who said, 'I read your signs and years ago a friend of mine was killed when a car door opened up on his bicycle. I hope your signs can help save the life of one person, because that person could have been my friend.'"
In an automobile-centric country, Sadik-Khan says only one third of New Yorkers get around daily by car. She says she wants to encourage people to walk and cycle more and has also determined to cut the city's traffic fatalities in half by 2030.
Janette Sadik-Khan, Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportaion, said, "When you think about the fact that over half of New Yorkers don't even own a car, we need to really re-evaluate and prioritize sustainable modes of transport."
According to New York regulations that control art installations, "Curbside Haiku" will be up for just under one year, but as Morse says, for an artist, 11 months in New York City is not a bad run.