Kaid Benfield, Director, Sustainable Communities, discusses how two simple tests can determine whether or not a neighborhood is well-designed for children growing up there. Foregoing complicated jargon about things like mixed use development and traffic planning, the “popsicle test” and the “Halloween test” are simply enough for a kid to understand. In their simplicity there is great insight. Read “The popsicle test, the Halloween test, and neighborhoods for kids” on Kaid Benfield’s Blog.
“If an 8-year-old can safely go somewhere to buy a popsicle, and get back home before it melts, chances are it’s a neighborhood that works,” and it passes the “popsicle test,” Benfield blogs.
“If it’s a good neighborhood for trick-or-treating, then it’s likely to be compact and walkable,” and it passes the “Halloween test,” he explains.
Inspired by a related blog by Scott Doyon on PlaceShakers and NewsMakers, Benfield’s blog supposes that well-connected streets and sidewalks in neighborhoods that are dense with mixed uses are good for kids, and good for adults, too.
Doyon writes; “For a child, having increasing opportunities to navigate the world around them, explore, invent, fall down, scrape knees, make decisions, screw up, get into - and solve - conflicts, and ultimately, achieve a sense of personal identity and self-sufficiency is a good thing. The right thing,” he say.
The point here is that navigating the world around you as a kid is a character builder. Cherished childhood experiences like taking a walk in the summertime to get a popsicle, and maybe eating it at the park, or scraping your knees learning how to ride a bike are threatened by bad neighborhood planning.
Benfield also likes Doyon’s observation; “If the place works for kids, chances are it works for everyone else, too (and, not coincidentally, it also works for the environment).” The question of whether or not a neighborhood is popsicle-and-Halloween-ready is a pretty easy one to answer, but a lot is implied.
Jennifer Eberbach is a professional journalist and writer. Find contact information on her website www.jenthewriter.info