Press Release

Dayton’s Traffic Garden Promises Safe Play and Traffic Safety Education for Children

Thursday, October 26, 2023 by Caitlin Sparks

Dayton, Kentucky – Learning the rules of traffic safety just became a little more fun in Northern Kentucky. On October 30 at 10:00 am, Tri-State Trails and partners will cut the ribbon on a newly installed traffic garden at Gil Lynn Park.

A traffic garden is a scaled-down roadway network with traffic features where children and other new learners can practice navigating streets in a place free from motor vehicles. Funded with a $25,000 grant from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF), the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet partnered with Tri-State Trails to implement the project in the City of Dayton.

“Teaching children about traffic safety early in life is an important step in preventing future crashes and pedestrian incidents. We’re excited to see how this innovative, hands-on approach impacts young Kentuckians and their families in the Dayton community. This project complements other initiatives the Cabinet is undertaking to equip all road users with a safe, connected, comfortable, equitable, and accessible transportation network.”

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray

“Youth deserve to get safely to their destination without having to get in a car. Communities need safe spaces where children can learn the skills and gain the confidence they need to be safe road users for decades to come. I’m proud that GHSA and the National Road Safety Foundation can play a role in making biking, walking and scooting safer for Dayton’s children.”

Jonathan Adkins, GHSA Chief Executive Officer

“The City of Dayton – with its partners, Tri-State Trails, Kentucky State Rep. Rachel Roberts, KYTC, and Dayton Independent Schools – is excited to create the first traffic garden in the region in our city. All seven of our city parks are frequently used by our residents and visitors to the city, and the addition of the Traffic Garden at Gil Lynn Park provides another engaging amenity in a park located right next door to our elementary and grade schools. This new park feature will help our children better understand the importance of cycling and pedestrian safety – not only in our city, but anywhere else they may go.”

Dayton Mayor Ben Baker

The traffic garden features a site-specific, colorful design that includes intersections with crosswalks, roundabouts, bike lanes, railroad crossings, a bus station, and bike parking. Children can explore the elements by foot and bike, while adults can gain insight into the needs and experiences of young road users.

“We hope the Dayton traffic garden will help prioritize safety and accessibility, fostering the development of healthier and more equitable communities. As more local governments expand their trail and bikeway networks, traffic gardens can play an important role in educating young people how to safely use cycling infrastructure.”

Wade Johnston, Executive Director of Tri-State Trails

Speakers at the ribbon-cutting event will include Bill Bell, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, Dayton Mayor Ben Baker, and representatives from Dayton Independent Schools, Dayton Park Board, and Tri-State Trails.

Working in partnership several organizations has been crucial in leveraging resources, expertise, and community support to create the traffic garden.

Discover Traffic Gardens initially drafted three site plans for the Dayton Traffic Garden in Gil Lynn Park, incorporating roadways, crosswalks, roundabouts, and vibrant elements to bring the traffic garden to life. The final design was selected with public input received at Tri-State Trails’ Pop-Up Bike Shop event at Gil Lynn Park on July 15, 2023, in partnership with Mobo Bike Coop and Queen City Bike.

To ensure the safety, durability, and quality of the traffic garden, the Dayton Park Board and the City of Dayton contracted concrete repairs at Gil Lynn Park that were completed in August. This preparation paved the way for the successful traffic garden installation, skillfully painted with road grade paint by Southwestern Ohio Services in October.

Heather Dragan, Principal of Lincoln Elementary, and her team have been enthusiastic partners for the project. They introduced the traffic garden idea to the community during school events and facilitated surveys on traffic safety for students and parents. Lincoln Elementary now owns a fleet of 22 new bikes for its students, along with classroom activities for indoor learning. The school purchased ten bikes with a separate recreation grant, and Cincinnati Off-Road Alliance facilitated the donation of an additional 12 bikes.

Tri-State Trails, in collaboration with KYTC, GHSA, NRSF, the City of Dayton, Dayton Park Board, Dayton Independent Schools, Lincoln Elementary, Discover Traffic Gardens, and local businesses, are excited to share this safe, fun space for all people to learn about traffic safety, empowering them to use and share roadways safely and confidently. The Dayton traffic garden is the first in the region and sets an example for innovative outdoor learning.

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