Traffic garden pop-up teaches Arlington students about traffic safety

Virginia

ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) — A pop-up traffic garden in Arlington is teaching children the importance of traffic safety. 

“This is a pop-up traffic garden that we put together with some temporary materials,” said Fionnuala Quinn, Discover Traffic Gardens 

Quinn, with a history in civil engineering, designs road simulations and brings them to life.  

Constructed in the Woman’s Club of Arlington’s parking lot, the garden was a collaboration by Phoenix Bikes, Potomac and Chesapeake Cycling, Bike Arlington and Arlington Public Schools. 

The goal is to promote the idea that biking and walking are reliable methods of transportation to school.  

“This is kind of like a training ground for students, so they can start getting familiar and feeling really comfortable with their starting and stopping and signaling and turning skills,” said Emily Gage, Executive Director at Phoenix Bikes.

“It can help kids learn to bike and that they’ll maybe start riding their bikes to school as opposed to having to be driven to school or use the school bus, which a lot of parents have concerns about now,” said Charlie Denney, President of Potomac and Chesapeake Cycling. 

The traffic garden comes during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, where students are learning virtually. The Safe Routes to School program at Arlington Public Schools says that the garden is a tool to continue student’s traffic education.

“There’s not been a place for students to come to on their free time to come and practice the safety skills and this is just the perfect place and the perfect time of the year to do it,” said Lauren Hassel, the Safe Routes to School coordinator.

Volunteers came this past weekend to help construct the road, made out of chalk and heavy-duty duct tape. But looking forward to the future, Quinn says that the pop up is a pilot for a broader project — getting traffic gardens into the schools.

“It’s part of a broader conversation where we are trying to get traffic gardens into the region, whether permanent, temporary or in this case, pop up,” said Quinn.

If the spray chalk and tape holds up with the weather, the traffic garden hopes to remain for the next couple of months. 

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