Street Language from Above

Released publicly in May 2011, Ron Gabriel’s SVA MFA Design/Designer as Author and Entrepreneur thesis product was an ambitious awareness campaign called 3-Way Street. It aimed to introduce the concept of civility to New York City’s congested streets. To illustrate the potential dangers between pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists when uncivil behavior reigns, Gabriel created this video and print materials that amplified the overall message. The viral video, which showed a time-lapse overview of scores of near-missed traffic tragedies on Lexington Avenue, garnered millions of hits in a matter of only a few weeks.

BikeNYC, a non-profit advocacy and support group for cyclists, recently released a powerful (and, let’s hope, effective) awareness campaign, Bike Like a New Yorker, about civility created by Mother NY. According to the website, the campaign is getting citywide distribution: “Thanks to generously donated billboards and printing from Edison, Van Wagner and Duggal, Bike Like a New Yorker is broadcast on scores of billboards across New York.”

The BikeNYC posters and billboards use a similar aerial view as 3-Way Street, with the typographic message writ large on the street. Gabriel also used street writing as the basis for his typographic language (above). “Separated at birth,” perhaps?

3-Way Street‘s video, which uses a video game conceit, is less typographic, while BikeNYC’s poster approach is typographically more direct. This street language is a logical answer to the problem (in the air, so it comes from above). The fundamental concept, to promote civility in the street, seems to have begun with 3-Way, and is taken to another level by Bike Like a New Yorker. Gabriel’s campaign has yet to take off. Maybe Bike Like a New Yorker will trigger adoption of his broader approach.

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