In-Roads at the Intersection of Safety and Creativity

From haikus to mannequins to flags, cities across the country are thinking outside the crosswalk and making every effort to keep pedestrians safe.  Major cities like Chicago, New York and Seattle are blazing the path by repurposing everyday objects, commissioning artwork and creative writing, and even offering monetary incentives to raise awareness about pedestrian safety.

Last month, the Chicago Department of Transportation launched a multi-part  citywide awareness campaign called “It’s Up to You.”  Thirty-two faceless store mannequins were placed around the city to  represent the 32 pedestrians killed in Chicago traffic accidents in 2010. Each mannequin wore a t-shirt that says, “One of 32 pedestrians killed last year in Chicago.”

As a follow-up to this awareness campaign, Chicago has placed “crossing-the-street“ flags in plastic holders at crosswalks of intersections near schools, senior citizen centers and hospitals that have no traffic signals or stop signs. Pedestrians simply pick up a flag to signal that they are about to cross, carry the flag as they cross, and return it to the flag holder on the other side of the street.

New York City is using an ancient form of Japanese poetry to urge motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians to think about safety.  This creative New York City Department of Transportation safety education campaign is called “Curbside Haiku.” The city has installed 216 signs featuring colorful artwork and haiku by artist John Morse at high-crash locations near cultural institutions and middle and high schools citywide.  The signs use creativity and brevity to draw attention to the critical importance of shared responsibility among pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists in keeping New York City’s streets safe.