Digital Billboard Hacked Again to Display Anti-Car Message

Screenshot courtesy of Curtis Fox

Hackers on Monday aimed, again, to make drivers consider the impact of their choice of transportation in Prospect Heights, co-opting a digital street sign to display messages such as “cars kill kids” and “cars are death machines.”

The “variable message sign,” or VMS, on Vanderbilt Avenue between Park Place and Sterling Place belongs not to DOT but to a contractor with the agency, the department said on Twitter. This was the second time in a week that the Vanderbilt VMS had been hacked to display anti-car messages; a sign in Park Slope was hacked on Wednesday to call for banning cars.

The full message on the billboard read “cars kill kids, cars melt glaciers, cars ruin cities, stop driving! Get rid of your car, honking won’t help, cars are death machines, use bus, subway, or bike!”


DOT told Bklyner that the sign had been reprogrammed to read “Construction Eastern Parkway,” and that the board belongs to demolition contractor Gramercy Group Inc. A representative for Gramercy Group could neither confirm nor deny that the sign belongs to the company.


The signs are popping up in the city amid an epidemic of cyclist deaths at the hands of drivers, most recently that of 10-year-old Dalerjon Shahobiddinov in Midwood. The increasing death toll, along with street redesign efforts like the 14th Street busway in Manhattan, have placed “breaking the car culture” at the forefront of political discussion this year.

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Ben Brachfeld

Ben Brachfeld

Ben Brachfeld is a freelance reporter based in Brooklyn. His work has also appeared in Gotham Gazette, City & State, and Gothamist. Reach out to him via email at, or on Twitter @benbrachfeld.


  1. The anti-car zealots (and they are zealots) like to demonize car owners and do stunts like this to make themselves feel better, relevant, and actually accomplishing something. But like most zealots, all they are doing is making statements that will lead nowhere. Perhaps a better strategy might be to figure out why people drive in NYC (e.g. physical limitations, lack of nearby transit going to where they want to go, inclement weather, need to carry groceries, kids, luggage, packages, etc. etc) and work towards addressing some of these issues. These stunts just make them look foolish.

  2. Out of curiosity, how are the signs hacked, (is it that easy), and are there any suspects or groups that have come forward?

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