While DOT Is Removing Signs, How About Yanking These Pedestrian Warnings?

Photo: Nathan H.

The Times reported yesterday that DOT is in the process of taking down all of the city’s “Don’t Honk” signs. Ostensibly the signs are being removed in tandem with efforts to declutter the visual environment. For better or worse, it’s also a tacit admission that they probably don’t do very much good.

Other signs we’d like to see disappear are these victim-blaming pedestrian warnings. Posted in 2011 as part of the “Curbside Haiku” series, one sign cautions women against wearing dark clothing at night, lest they be struck by a motorist. Another one, in Midtown of all places, likens stepping into traffic to buying a lottery ticket.

These signs reinforce the false premise that motor vehicle traffic is a force of nature, as impervious to human intervention as ball lightning. They also perpetuate the notion that city pedestrians are asking to be injured or killed simply by walking outside.

Instead of brow-beating victims of traffic violence, maybe DOT could consider adding a message to the streetscape, as suggested by Streetsblog reader Jeff: “Can we just hang signs that say ‘Please don’t kill people’ from all traffic signals?”

Photo: Jennifer Aaron