Staff, along with volunteers from the Vision Zero Coalition Partner organizations, have installed a temporary traffic garden at Ewald Park on the old pool and pool house site. Staff is currently planning for the installation of the traffic garden design for the site at Cora Kelly Elementary School. For more information, see the project descriptions below.
What is a Traffic Garden?
Traffic gardens are
miniature street neighborhoods made up of small-sized streets where children and adults can engage in
active learning about roadways and traffic safety in a low-stress environment. Children practice walking,
bicycling, and “driving” along roadways and through intersections and
crossings, all in an environment free of motor vehicles. In Alexandria, each city-led project gives local children an opportunity to learn about real street design and influence what the streets in their play space looks like. The effort to install these in key locations that serve children and adults is part of the City's Vision Zero Educational Efforts. To learn more about the City’s Vision Zero Program, visit Vision Zero.
Where are the City's Traffic Gardens?
Staff have been looking for low-hanging fruit of blank paved areas at parks, schools, and in the streets. The locations below presented the first opportunities to install these facilities in the City. Staff is currently looking for locations on the west end of the City to ensure all children have easier access to these facilities.
Mt. Jefferson Park
In March 2019, the City hosted a community workshop where children were invited to become the traffic engineers and design their own traffic garden. After careful review, City staff combined the work of three neighborhood girls as inspiration for the final design. Special thanks to Lucy, Maisie, and Alli for their design expertise! The design was painted and ready for kids to start using it in Summer 2019.
At the official opening event in November 2019, kids were led through a bicycle rodeo course and practiced key skills, such as starting and stopping, turning, and using hand signals. Bicycle and helmet checks were provided, and residents spoke with City staff about other exciting Vision Zero efforts. See the final design below:
Alexandria Bike Campus
Location: Jones Point Park, Alexandria
The bicycle campus is open to the public for self-learning and will be used to host bicycle education classes. The design includes a training course that allows for distraction-free learning for basic skills such as riding in straight lines, turns, starting and stopping, and bike handling. Additionally, the bicycle campus has a small-scale, six-block model of “city” streets. Each block has a different street design, allowing bicyclists of all ages to learn how to maneuver and what to expect in different “real world” scenarios.
The bicycle campus is a fulfillment of one of the commitments in the Jones Point Park Recreation and Visitor Services Plan, finalized by the National Park Service in 2017. The bike campus was accomplished through a partnership between City Staff, the National Park Service, and the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA). The bike campus opened in December 2019.
Cora Kelly School for Math, Science, and Technology
In early March 2020, staff held a traffic garden design workshop with Cora Kelly's 3rd grade STEM students. Designs were gathered and reviewed by staff. There were so many great designs, staff used several elements from a few designs to make up a street network. Staff is currently finalizing the design with hopes to be able to paint the project in late 2021 or early 2022, pending budget and resource availability.
Ewald Park Temporary Traffic Garden
In an effort to expand the reach of the Traffic Garden program to the West End, T&ES and RPCA staff met to determine short-term or temporary facilities that could provide activated play space and interactive education to Alexandria youth during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With the availability of the former pool and pool-house facilities open paved area, T&ES staff has worked with Vision Zero Coalition partners to install a temporary traffic garden at this location. With T&ES staff design, installation occurred in May 2021. The use of this space as a traffic garden is temporary given ongoing park planning efforts.
For more information, contact Christine Mayeur at Christine.Mayeur@alexandriava.gov.