Meet the New Traffic Garden
Arlington’s new traffic garden is a fun way to teach kids the rules of the road.
One beautiful weekend in the fall of 2020, 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.
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 Traffic Gardens in Arlington?
Arlington’s first semi-permanent traffic garden was located at the Women’s Club of Arlington (700 S. Buchanan Street). The traffic garden was built with temporary materials such as spray chalk and tape and lasted for a couple of months. Currently you can find semi permanent traffic gardens at these locations in Arlington:
The old ATS Building/New Key School location (855 N Edison St, Arlington, VA 22205)
Hoffman Boston Elementary School (1415 S Queen St, Arlington, VA 22204)
If you are interested in visiting a permanent traffic garden while 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.