It's October, which means Halloween, which means candy. Although it's no longer socially appropriate for me to dress up and go door to door asking strangers to feed me candy, it turns out I can scope out the neighborhoods that have a lot of trick-or-treaters and use that to gauge a neighborhood's design.
The attractiveness of a neighborhood to trick-or-treaters actually says some pretty interesting things about how well a neighborhood is designed overall. A multitude of design factors come together to create a killer trick or treating neighborhood, and these same factors affect overall livability.
Urban design can have a big impact on human behavior, with factors such as mixed use neighborhoods, higher population density, and high connectivity leading to greater walking and biking behavior (Saelens, et al., 2003) which can potentially increase overall physical activity and health of a community (Handy et al., 2002). Designing around people can really make a difference! So what does trick or treating say about a well-designed neighborhood? Most of the factors that lead to a neighborhood passing the trick or treat test combine into a feeling that the neighborhood is safe and walkable. It turns out some of these factors can have a measurable impact on a feeling of community and resilience.
Does your neighborhood pass the trick-or-treat test?
Bonus: If you want to calculate the candy density of your neighborhood (and who doesn't?) check this out: http://www.paullknight.com/2012/10/30/maximize-your-halloween-with-new-urbanism/
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