The series of posters I have designed address, specifically, the failure under New York City law to prosecute reckless or negligent driving and, more generally, the dominant car culture that condones the behavior of drivers at the expense of the safety of those on foot.
In response to a growing death toll of pedestrians and cyclists, the NYC department of transportation has begun a “Look” campaign that is primarily focused on urging walkers to be on the lookout for cars. Certainly paying attention is important however one travels.This safety campaign only addresses part of the problem, however, so long as the Bloomberg administration fails to address the inadequate laws and law enforcement that permits drivers who strike, injure, or kill a walker or cyclist to receive a misdemeanor or no charge at all if the driver claims to have not seen the victim. The inequity of accountability places the responsibility for safer streets disproportionately on the shoulders of those most at risk. I believe this is an apt time to be engaged in this issue as it is a persistent problems and has garnered a fair amount of press (see below) in the past year.
The fairly complicated nature of the issue I am addressing was the greatest challenge I faced in designing the posters. I did not want them to be text heavy or to ask the audience for a specific course of action. My aim is to increase the visibility of pedestrian deaths and to incite my audience to think and talk about how consequence-free
driving is a threat. Even though my argument centers around justice, I sought to represent a more empowered walking public (more about the problem, than potential
solutions). The problem is difficult to believe, but well documented, so my hope is that the posters might encourage people to look into it further. I targeted the mayor specifically, because he does seem at the very least sympathetic and aware of the problem so it makes sense to place pressure where it may have the most effect.
I designed the posters using Microsoft Publisher. They were printed on vinyl so that they can hang outside without much damage. Because they were printed to last,
I plan to go out to the city to seek out places where they stand the best chance of not being taken down (for instance hanging them on outside store walls with
permission). I will most likely also make smaller (cheaper!) paper copies to place art intersections. The aim is for them to be in places heavily trafficked on foot.
The first poster is meant to be symbolic, semi ambiguous, and motivating.There are two versions, one simply with a statistic about deaths versus prosecutions, the other with more of a narrative of the issue.
The second poster is an info graphic meant to demonstrate the dramatic difference in that same statistic. The people figures in it were too small and are difficult to see. I am going to try to make this mistake into and advantage by hanging it it a place where people have no choice but to stand around (like a subway platform) so that they will, in their boredom, come in for a closer look.
The final poster is meant to be somewhat oddly funny in the bold text and then very serious as you read on, because, when it works, I find that sort of tension especially disquieting.
The logo of a walk signal figure carrying an orange flag links the posters together. The orange is meant to resemble the shade of traffic cones and crossing guard vests (a color meant to alert drivers); it is intended to imply a double meaning of visibility (to be both literally and politically visible).
"Here's Why Drivers Get Away with Murder in NYC" by John Del Signore. February 2012. Gothamist
"Is the NYPD Letting Drivers Get Away with Murder?" by Matt Chaban. New York Observer.
"NYC's Hit and Run Loophole" by Jessica Panettieri, August 2012. Brooklyn Magazine.
"City to be Sued Again for Shrugging at Pedestrian Killings" by Joe Coscarelli. September 2012. New York Magazine.
"Reckless Drivers Who Hit People Face Few Penalties in New York" by Michael Powell. September 2012. The New York Times