Self-Reliance Grows in the Utrecht Traffic Garden
In the Dutch city of Utrecht, kids start learning about traffic safety long before they prepare for a driver's license. And not just "look both ways before you cross the street."
The school curriculum includes regular field trips to the local "traffic garden." The City of Utrecht has used this facility, a streetscape in miniature, to teach kids the rules of the road since the 1950s. Students take turns as cyclists, pedestrians and car drivers, learning how to take other types of street users into consideration. The hands-on experience navigating the traffic garden gives kids the skills and confidence to get around the city under their own power as soon as their early teens.
Ronald Tamse: [00:05] We are here in our local traffic garden. This was created in the 50s for education purpose because a lot of children had problems in traffic safety just in the years after the second world war. It already exists over 50 years, and it’s really worth having all the young children from primary schools come here once or twice a year. The children first arrive here and get small class and go outside. The group’s split up in three parts, one part is driving the small cars, the second group is cycling and the third group is walking. After 15 or 20 minutes they change groups.
Daan Van Den Heuvel: [01:00] I work from three years in the traffic garden. I give lesson in traffic in theory and practical for all the children for the basic school. This year I get 6400 kids.
Speaker: [01:14] I’m a teacher for orientation mobility training for partially sighted children. I bring them in here because it’s much smaller here. A real roundabout is much too big for them, they can’t see the overview, and here we can practice what they do on a roundabout. What we did here today was when one traffic light is red, what is the other colour? Oh, when this one is green, the other one is red and here you can recognise it.
[01:50] Children who come to this traffic garden are mostly in the age
of 10 or 11 years, and what you see in the Netherlands is that at this
age they are almost finished with their primary school. One or
two years later they start cycling all across the city to their secondary
school. That’s why it’s so important they come to this traffic
garden and experience in small the situations which they will see when
they go to the secondary school. And I have the experience last
year with my own daughter, she passed her traffic exam, and since at
the end of this summer holiday she went to a secondary school.
And what me and my wife as parents experience, this created a much bigger
world for herself.
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