As you know, I think community is pretty much the answer to all our ills. The more we trust and depend on each other, the more confident we feel Free-Ranging our kids, the more fun we have in our lives, the more our streets teem with life and the less lonely we become.
Add to this the dawning realization on the part of city planners that when a neighborhood works for kids, it works for everyone else, too and you get why it is so important to try to build cities and towns that pass the “Popsicle Test.”
Popsicle Test? It’s simply, brilliantly this: A neighborhood “works” if it is possible for an 8-year-old kid to get a Popsicle on his or her own and return before it has completely melted.
That means the streets must be safe enough to cross and the housing close enough to retail. The kids must feel fine about walking outside, ditto their parents (and the police! and busybodies!). Once all that is in place, not only can children get around on their own, so can everyone else, including old folks.
Note, as does Kaid Benfeld in The Atlantic’s blog regarding the icy treat test:
…there’s no planning jargon in there: nothing explicitly about mixed uses, or connected streets, or sidewalks, or traffic calming, or enough density to put eyes on the street. But, if you think about it, it’s all there.
I’m also fond of the “Halloween test”: If it’s a good neighborhood for trick-or-treating, then it’s likely to be compact and walkable. My brother-in-law, who lives in a place that is anything but, drives his kids to the nearest traditional town center on Halloween. Quite a few parents seem to do the same thing by driving to my neighborhood.
As we have pointed out before: The presence of kids outside indicates a good place to live. And the presence of Popsicles? Even better. Which reminds me…it is snack time right now. — L