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Creating Safer Streets with Traffic Gardens

Mary Butcher

Teaching a new generation safe travel and, in the process, the joys of biking.

Like many urban places, Washington, DC has been plagued by a rise in pedestrian fatalities, leading to the development of their Vision Zero Plan whose goal is to eliminate pedestrian deaths by 2024. Working closely with the Vision Zero team and DC Public Schools, Torti Gallas helped realize a new tool – the Traffic Garden - to teach students at a young age how to safely navigate an urban street system and support the District’s important agenda.

The Traffic Garden is a miniature street network that mimics actual streets with lanes, stop signs, sidewalks and bridges. Working with pre-schoolers and 2nd graders, we developed Traffic Garden designs on existing blacktop playgrounds for two schools -- Maude Aiton Elementary School and Neval Thomas Elementary School. Recently completed, the new facilities are a big hit, teaching a new generation safe travel and in the process, the joys of biking!

The project has been so successful that the City is looking to expand the program to additional schools. The use of the Traffic Gardens is supported by a Preschool curriculum developed by George Mason University and DCPS' physical education program aimed at teaching every public school 2nd grader how to bike.

As part of the George Mason University Vision Zero Grant team, the work is funded by the District’s Department of Transportation. Charrette techniques were created by Fionnuala Quinn of Discover Traffic Gardens.

Not only improving safety and cultivating a new generation of bikers, the project is also creating a more sustainable and greener city.

Click here to see one of our Traffic Gardens in action.

More information and other efforts to create safer streets, can be found in this Washington Post article here.

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