What is a traffic garden?
A traffic garden is a set of small-sized streets with scaled-down traffic features and urban elements where children and other new learners practice using streets in a place that is free from motor vehicles.
Traffic Gardens are known by many terms depending on when, how, and where they are built. Common English-language names include Safety Towns, Safety Villages, Road Tracks and Traffic Playgrounds. Whatever the term used, these mini-street networks are found dotted all over the U.S. and Canada as well as in many other spots around the world. Facilities often seem to occur in geographic clusters, perhaps where local communities modeled their facilities on each other. The idea spread widely but the new installations appeared under many different names in English. Here are the names that we have found but there are probably more out there: Bike Playground, Bike Track, Children’s Safety Village, Children’s Traffic Park, Learn to Cycle Track, Model Traffic Area, Road Track, Safety Education Village, Safety Town, Safety Village, Safetyville, Traffic Playground, Traffic Safety Park, Traffic School and Transportation Park.
Traffic gardens vary depending on what skills are being taught, the space available, or the resources to construct one. Regardless of the type, all traffic gardens have one thing in common: they create a world to safely walk, roll, and ride bicycles. You can read more about them in Ilana Bean's essay at Guernica. For a great resource on the history of traffic gardens, we recommend Ian McMurray's piece here.
North American Permanent Traffic Gardens Map
This map is an ongoing project aimed at locating and documenting traffic gardens in North America. So far we have marked over 190 installations. Zoom in on the locations and you may be able to get a wonderful bird's eye view of the installation at the marked location. Note the patterns and distribution of the facilities.
Green icons represent traffic garden courts, blue icons represent traffic garden parks, purple icons indicate upcoming installations, and red icons represent Canadian facilities. Traffic garden courts refer to street networks with surface-applied markings, while traffic garden parks consist of interconnected miniature streets, sometimes with curbs.
Please message Fionnuala (Finn@TrafficGardens.com) with any corrections, new information, or missed traffic gardens to update the map. If possible, include photos or project details for accurate categorization.
Thank you to Dr. Melissa Bopp, Professor of Kinesiology at Pennsylvania State University and student intern Aidan Wahl for their assistance in creating this first comprehensive map of traffic garden installations in North America. Be on the look out for the North American Traffic Garden Survey being conducted by Dr. Bopp. It's coming soon! Send contact information to the above email to be added to the survey list. We are very excited about the work that is taking place to collect information about traffic gardens!