Meet the New Traffic Garden

headshot of bikearlington program manager david balick
David Balick Tweet Us @bikearlington.com@bikearlington.com December 2, 2020
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David Balick is the Program Manager for BikeArlington. Originally from Arlington, he bikes as much as he can and is always on the lookout for new, interesting trails in the area.

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Arlington’s new traffic garden is a fun way to teach kids the rules of the road.

One beautiful fall weekend, a temporary traffic garden was installed at the Woman’s Club of Arlington. While Traffic Gardens (sometimes referred to as “safety towns”) have been popular since the 1970s, they are relatively new to our region.

traffic garden

What is a Traffic Garden

A traffic garden is an interactive space where kids can learn the patterns, designs, and rules of the road. It is modeled on a typical street: with lanes, intersections, crosswalks, and signs – but on a kid’s scale. It can be made using a variety of materials including tape or paint and is usually located on a black top surface or parking lot.

Traffic Gardens provide not only a fun place to play on bikes, scooters, or pedal cars, but also help children learn how to behave and interact with other people out on the road.

Why Is This Important?

Learning how to be safe out on the road is a critical skill for all kids, regardless of what type of road user they eventually become. From the backseat of a car, children aren’t exposed directly to what it takes to be safe drivers, bicyclists, transit users, or pedestrians on our roads. With the traffic garden, they get the benefit of practicing in a calm environment without any vehicles around. They can build confidence in their spatial awareness and navigation, build bonds with other children, and become empowered to move in a way they enjoy. They (and the adults who accompany them) are also exposed to what our transportation future can look like, exploring questions such as: what if we added more green space, or opened this space to just people on foot and on bikes, or built another road here? Most importantly, they have fun while using it!

Where Can I Find Arlington’s First Traffic Garden?

Arlington’s first semi-permanent traffic garden is located at the Women’s Club of Arlington (700 S. Buchanan Street). While it was built with temporary materials such as spray chalk and tape, it should last for a couple of months. If you are interested in visiting a permanent traffic garden before more pop up in Arlington, there is one located under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Alexandria right along the Mt. Vernon trail.

Can I Build My Own Traffic Garden?

Yes! All it takes is some common household craft materials, determination, and space. Tape works well as painted lines, and carboard and markers can make great signs. Discover Traffic Gardens is a great resource for more tips and help with pop-up traffic gardens.

Biking More with Kids

Feeling inspired to ride more with your children? You have many options whether your trips are for learning, fun, school, and everything in between. The BikeArlington team hosted a joint webinar with the Washington Area Bicyclists’ Association on tips and techniques for biking with children.

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