Boulder Valley School District

A new kind of garden is popping up at schools!

kid biking in traffic garden
Carolyn Nohe


Over the past few weeks, a team of BVSD bus drivers and bus aides has installed “pop-up” traffic gardens on playgrounds and basketball courts at Heatherwood, Meadowlark, Mesa, Emerald, Columbine, Coal Creek, Lafayette Elem, Birch, Aspen Creek K8, Douglass and Centennial MS. 

“It’s a nice activity for kids, it’s outdoors. They can be socially distanced and I just thought this was like a perfect solution for the exercise I was looking for for my group of kids,” says Ruth Need, an ICAN teacher at Douglass Elementary.

Made with spray chalk and stencils, these temporary traffic gardens look like a miniature world of streets for children to navigate. Each traffic garden features 4’ travel lanes and various elements they may encounter on their way to school, such as stop signs, crosswalks, one-ways, and roundabouts. 

“Being a driver for so long I have gone through so many education classes for traffic and safety stuff that it kind of comes natural to do a traffic garden,” says BVSD Bus Driver Ellen Headrick.

The idea is to provide a safe space for kids to practice bicycle and pedestrian skills while creating a new playspace for children to get outside and get some exercise. 

There is something about whole body movement while having imaginative fun that makes traffic gardens an effective learning tool. Growing up understanding how to utilize streets and infrastructure is an important skill for children to gain independence as they get older.  

“I think this is a great idea that could be replicated anywhere, says Amy Thompson, BVSD Safe Routes to School Co-Coordinator. They have been installed so far at 11 BVSD schools. Thompson also shares that they’re, “happy to share [their] tips if you know a group of parents or volunteers wanted to take them on and do some different things.”

To inquire about a traffic garden at your school, email


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