Skip to content
CityLab
Culture

The Evolution of Miniature ‘Safety Towns’ for Kids

The pint-sized faux villages that dot America aren’t just cute—they’ve helped teach children pedestrian and bike safety since the 1930s.
Young cyclists learn the rules of the road at the Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village in Ashville, New York, which opened in 2010.
Young cyclists learn the rules of the road at the Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village in Ashville, New York, which opened in 2010.Chautauqua Children's Safety Education Village

Traffic is light in this section of Ashville, New York, despite it being home to a cluster of storefronts: A McDonald’s is kitty-corner from a Walmart, and Tim Hortons is across the street from AAA. Convenient as it all may sound, this district is not quite real.

Instead, it’s part of the child-scaled Chautauqua Children’s Safety Education Village, where, among other things, kids can practice safe biking and walking and learn the rules of the road in a contained, controlled environment. Since the village opened its doors in fall 2010, more than 26,000 children have visited.