Town of Chapel Hill Traffic Garden

Have You Visited the Chapel Hill Traffic Garden Yet?  Join the Fun Soon!  Once you have visited, please answer A Few Questions to help us improve the site!

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What is a Traffic Garden?

A traffic garden, or safety village, is a park facility where children and families can learn the and practice the rules of the road. Traffic gardens are smaller-scale versions of real street networks and include realistic road signs, situations, and street markings designed to help teach new bicyclists and pedestrians how to safely use roads. Children and adults can use traffic gardens to practice walking, bicycling, and “driving” through roads and intersections in a space that is protected from vehicular traffic.

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Children practice bicycling safely at a traffic garden at George Mason University in Iowa. Image courtesy of Safe Routes to School Iowa.

Where is the Traffic Garden in Chapel Hill?

In December of 2022 the Town of Chapel Hill installed its first Traffic Garden at Homestead Aquatic Center Parking Area, located at 300 Aquatic Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27516. This Traffic Garden is open to the public year-round during park hours, which are from dawn until dusk.

How can I use a Traffic Garden?

There are many ways youth and adults can use the traffic garden. One of the most common uses is for learning the rules of the road by practicing navigating roads on a bicycle, tricycle, or scooter. People can also walk the course of the traffic garden, or practice using other non-motorized devices to pass through the marked roads and intersections. The following list includes some rules, suggestions, and resources for making the most out of your trip to your local traffic garden.

Tips for Using the Traffic Garden

  1. Park near the Traffic Garden, which is marked with large orange barriers. There are designated parking areas to leave bicycles when not using the course.  Please be mindful of the space you occupy and that others could be using the Traffic Garden as well.
  2. Check that you have a well fitted helmet, bike brakes, and bike lights that are working well. Helmets should always be worn when riding a bicycle or other device in the Traffic Garden. In North Carolina, bicycles must have a white headlight turned on the front and a red taillight on the rear. Front lights must be on at all times while flashing rear lights or a rear reflector are required during dark hours.
  3. Review common Road Signs to be able to recognize signs, understand what they mean, and know what to do when you see them. Helpful resources for reviewing road signs can be found here or in the resources section below.
  4. Start at the word BEGIN on the West side of the course and decide where in the course you want to go. Consider walking the path before you ride or roll along it. Be considerate of other people in the Traffic Garden.
  5. Ride your bike or nonmotorized mobility device carefully and slowly on the right side of the road. Practice moving through different intersections and responding to different situations. When you are comfortable using the course, consider learning and practicing how to indicate your movements with hand signals.
  6. Supervise youth participants while using the Traffic Garden. While this space is intended to be used as a learning tool for youths and adults, it is important to note that youth may not be left unattended in the Traffic Garden and must be supervised at all times.
  7. Reflect on your experience in the Traffic Garden. What did you learn? What did you enjoy or not enjoy? What behaviors and environmental features make bicycling easier and safer? Discuss road safety with youth and reinforce the importance of the rules of the road. Consider taking the Chapel Hill Traffic Garden survey to help town staff improve the site.

We are so excited for those beginning new cycling and walking journeys at the Chapel Hill Traffic Garden.  Please email goch@townofchapelhill.org with any questions, concerns, or for more information.

Traffic Garden Resources

North Carolina Bicycle and Pedestrian Laws 

    Brief Guide to Road Signs

  • Stop Sign:  This means stop at the line when you see a sign on your side of the road.
  • Yield Sign:  This means slow down and look for other people or bicycles or cars coming in your direction and let them go first before you keep going
  • Speed Limit Sign:  When someone is driving a car, this means go a certain speed so that everyone is going the same speed.  The speed limit sign is decided on where a road or street is located and what is safe for everyone in that area.
  • Crossing Sign: This sign means to slow down and shows that a person might be crossing the road OR that sometimes an animal such as a deer or goose might be crossing the street.  Slowing down helps people to see better and to stop if they need to, for someone or something to cross the road. 

Other Resources

Using Hand Signals:   https://www.bikelaw.com/2021/03/bike-hand-signals/

League of American Bicyclists signaling and scanning: https://www.bikeleague.org/content/signaling-and-scanning

Vision Zero NC Infographic https://ncvisionzero.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/ShowExplainPracticeFlyer20210611_TSMP-NCTSCpdf.pdf 

Bike/Ped Info : https://www.pedbikeinfo.org/resources/resources_details.cfm?id=5313

Fun Road Safety Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NeEF1fwT4k

FHWA Bike Children’s Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkoVxBnnGko

Safe Kids – Getting to School Safely: https://www.thinglink.com/scene/818198404935974914

NHTSA bike/ped resource page: https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/bicycle-safety

Signaling While Riding a Bike: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VqxBptV1fk

Cycling and Walking Quizzes – BikeWalkNC: https://www.bikewalknc.org/north-carolina-bicycle-safety-quiz/

BikeWalkNC Educational Resources for Bicyclists: https://www.bikewalknc.org/safety-education/education-resources-for-bicyclists/

NCDOT Bike Safety Videos and Reading Material: https://www.ncdot.gov/initiatives-policies/safety/Bicycle-Safety/Pages/default.aspx

Quizlet on bike safety (no images): https://quizlet.com/208988351/pedestrian-bike-safety-flash-cards/

Bike Laws in NC:

Bike Commuting Reading Materials:  http://www.bikewalknc.org/bicycle-commuting/

Cycling with children: http://www.bikewalknc.org/2014/05/bicycling-with-children/

NCDOT how to cycle on street PDF – long:  http://www.bikewalknc.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Streetwise_Cycling.pdf

Fort Collins long video on bike safety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s5hJhLBUec