BikeBasketAs you peer down New York City’s streets, they’re often littered with bicycles. Bikes missing one wheel or their seat in hopes of deterring theft. Bikes with air fresheners hanging from the handle bars  or radios blaring as if they were cars. Bikes with metal or old-fashioned baskets. They’re a common and eco-friendly mode of transport in New York for natives and tourists alike. So imagine coming upon a bike with a basket containing a sign saying, “Please don’t litter here. Karma.”

Is this what the world has come to? Someone felt the need to post a sign in their bike basket hoping that it won’t be turned into a trash can? (I should mention this particular bike was parked directly outside a church—yet still the need for the sign?) I felt the urge to smile over the silliness of it all. 

Littering2Yet, the very next day, on a different street, in a different part of town, I came upon another bike, with another basket. There was no sign of a “sign” reminding folks not to litter there. And sure enough, this bike basket was already filled with litter including used coffee cups, napkins, a used yogurt container and various crumpled papers.  I guess the previous day’s biker wasn’t so silly after all.

What is it about people that they’d actually litter in someone’s mode of transportation? Would they litter in someone’s car? Would they litter along the road? Are they people who live there—or are they just traveling through?

Littering Is Wrong Too

The bike basket littering episode made me think about some very clever anti-littering signs I’ve seen along theNew Jersey and Pennsylvania turnpikes during recent trips to Philadelphia.  Here are some of the slogans:

“Gas station sushi. Littering is wrong too.”

“Networking at funerals. Littering is wrong too.”

“Proposing on a blind date. Littering is wrong too.”

The billboards are so wrong, they’re right. These clever slogans are part of a larger billboard campaign that can be seen across the country.  Some of the slogans have been created by people who’ve taken the time to “write in their wrong.” In addition to making slogan suggestions (here’s a chance to verbalize some of your pet peeves,) people are also encouraged to shoot a “wrong” photo or video depicting litter and upload it onto the organization’s website where others can then go vote on what they view as “wrongest”. The winner gets the most “thumbs down.”

Littering3Some Positive Signs Littered About

In an attempt to boost traffic safety in New York City, the transportation commissioner announced a fairly new campaign that has posted signs worth a second glance –littered throughout the five boroughs in high-crash locations.

Curbside Haiku is a collaboration between the NYC Department of Transportation and artist John Morse. The campaign uses 8-inch square signs that feature both colorful pictures and safety messages, written in haiku.  A sample:

Aggressive driver.

Aggressive pedestrian.

Two crash test dummies.

Littering4The project is funded by a state grant from DWI funds, and there are 12 different designs/poems (10 in English, 2 in Spanish) that focus on different modes of transportation and the safety hazards to beware of. They can be seen around town, near cultural institutions, schools, near MoMA, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and Bronx’s Grand Concourse—again typically high-crash areas.

I hope folks will pass this along as a reminder of the need to have a greater respect  and awareness for the areas we travel.