A change to the city of Milwaukee ordinance that restricts biking on public school playgrounds seeks full common council approval in effort to expand safe education opportunities.

A sign at a Milwaukee Public School shows the will of the people

The story begins almost 16 years ago. As our Milwaukee Safe Routes to School education team traveled around the city working with Milwaukee Public School children on learning the rules of the road and encouraging going by bike to school and other places in their neighborhood. These signs, seen above, outlawing the riding of bikes on wide open asphalt playgrounds discouraged kids from practicing riding and having a safe place to gain skills. This is all about to change – and it’s a testament to the commitment to supporting the next generation of road and park users from Milwaukee Public Schools, Bike Fed, Reflo, and the DPW Multimodal Department.

Milwaukee Youth Education Program Manger, Michael Anderson speaks in favor of the ordinance change at the Public Works committee meeting.

If passed this ordinance change will allow more schools to include traffic garden additions to their playground when doing either full reconstructions or resurfacing and re-striping. It will allow a safe place, free from cars, for children to begin to understand traffic rules and interactions between users of the road. It will provide space to enhance current education programming as well as support opportunities for families after school or on weekends to engage in positive, hands on learning.

The ordinance edit passed the Public Works Committee on May 18th and will be brought before the full common council for a vote on June 1st. If you live in Milwaukee we encourage you to contact your alderperson and tell them you are in support of this change!

The ordinance is just the first step to remove barriers to promoting and encouraging safer usage of our roads in our future generations. School are eligible to use ESSER funding to paint a traffic garden and Bike Fed staff will be continuing to convince school to implement when improving their playgrounds.

If you’d like to see one in person currently there are traffic playgrounds on Clement Ave School, Fratney St. School, Academy of Accelerated Learning.

Photo of Fratney St School playground transformation including a traffic garden. Photo Courtesy Reflo https://refloh2o.com/laescuelafratney
A traffic garden in Copenhagen, DE visited by Bike Fed staff, Jake Newborn and his daughter, in 2018
A traffic garden in Copenhagen, DE visited by Bike Fed staff, Jake Newborn and his daughter, in 2018

There are other ordinances we’d like to change as well (cough cough – sidewalk riding restrictions) but for now we need your help to get this win! Thank you for your support and for contacting your elected officials!