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Haiku as traffic signs — REALLY?

Has anyone seen these while out and about in NYC? I’ve heard of haiku on buses and subway cars, but this is something else. I wanted to laugh it off, but these haiku also come with visual art. Makes it seem like they were aiming for something… But what?


Here is the link to NPR’s story.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Hi, Gene, I heard a discussion about these signs on WCBS radio. I listen to the radio often in the daytime when I’m busy around the house. They were discussing how they needed to find new words…new ways of expressing things because people had become so used to words like “stop” or “caution” that they simply ignored the signs. So they went to haiku to make people stop and think about what the words meant for a change. A good lesson for us all I think….
    So glad you were able to post them so I could actually see what they were talking about.

  2. yeah well, a few years back I had the same issue as Alan when the Envir. Commission wanted to add signs, footnotes, etc. to the flora along the nature tail and was
    calling them “haiku,” but at least this person left out the ess (s), and at the time I
    did correct them.

  3. It’s sad, but it’s too easy to call these things haiku as some sort of shortcut. I just hope that it has a good effect on people’s driving.

    It’s just a peculiar fact of life that many people think anything with 17 syllables is a haiku, and that good writing is irrelevant.

    The strange thing is that there probably a few Japanese road signs in 17-on but they would never dream of calling them haiku. 😉


  4. Here’s the suburban version, from Suburban Haiku (

    [children crossing] Dear Honks-at-the-Kids, / When they panic like squirrels do / they don’t clear the way.

    [residental speed limit] You’re so important! / Why else… would you drive so fast / when you leave for work?

    [speed enforced by camera] Rats. A speed camera / and the limit’s 25. / Hope my picture’s good.

    [stop, four way] At a 4-way stop / I stare down the other cars / with my mean mom face.

    [pedestrian crossing] My son texted friends / who were walking down the street, / “Get a car, hobos!”

  5. These are set up at busy intersections so isn’t it one more distraction and an additional safety hazzard? Not to mention that the haiku are horrendous! Let’s face it – its not really haiku or poems. Three lines and seventeen syllables does not a haiku make??? It’s everything that we have been ranting against. My take on this curbside haiku:(in seventeen syllables/three lines no less:

    new safety signs
    car and pedestrian crash
    haiku poems live

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