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May 06

What’s a traffic garden?

Posted on May 6, 2021 at 12:11 pm by Clay Curtin

“Safety village,” “traffic playground” or “traffic park” are other names given to traffic gardens. A traffic garden is a space designed with small-scaled streets network and traffic features such as traffic lights, stop signs, bike paths, etc. They create a safe environment free of motor vehicles and with real lifelike streets for children to practice their walking and rolling skills and learn about road safety. They are great assets in providing standardized and realistic bike and pedestrian education. 

Some traffic gardens are designed to be temporary installations in parking lots or playgrounds and some are permanent structures with asphalt streets and concrete curbs–some are literally miniature towns with small buildings! Traffic gardens can also include a classroom, a bike shed, restrooms and a picnic area. Traffic gardens can be used by families during weekends or during school field trips to teach pedestrian and bicycle safety, bike skills and bike maintenance. 

Traffic gardens exist throughout the world, mostly in Europe and North America. The concept was particularly popular in Denmark and Netherlands in the 1950s to provide hand-on bicycle training to children. Within the last decade, traffic gardens gained in popularity in the United States, mostly concentrated in Ohio and on the East Coast. About 250 permanent traffic gardens have been identified around the world.

More locally, the idea was first brought by Brigid Roberts, a Menlo Park resident and Chair of Parents for Safe Routes, whose son learned to ride a bike at a traffic garden in Germany. During the last few months, the idea to develop a traffic garden in Silicon Valley has moved forward thanks to the Cupertino Safe Routes to School program, along with other regional partners such as the Menlo Park Safe Routes to School program, the Cities of San Jose, Sunnyvale and Palo Alto, Palo Alto Safe Routes to School program, Parents for Safe Routes, San Mateo County Office of Education, Santa Clara County Office of Education, Santa Clara County Public Health Department, the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition and Safe Kids Santa Clara/San Mateo.

Complete this brief survey to let us know you would like to see a traffic garden built here in the Silicon Valley.

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