Photo by George Ruiz

Photo by George Ruiz

Halloween is approaching and for many of us, that means a certain level of excitement for something we don’t usually get excited about: Putting on weird clothes and ringing strangers’ doorbells (or watching our kids do this). Whether you’re planning to take children trick or treating, attend a costume party or just answer the door and offer candy, this is a holiday for interacting with new people and seeing your neighborhood in a new way. Instead of the usual brisk “Hello” to the lady next door on your way from the car to the house, Halloween is a day when we compliment each other’s costumes, chat about the goings on in our towns, meet new neighbors, and linger over candy or drinks.

As part of Strong Towns’ events, Chuck Marohn often hosts walking tours through local neighborhoods—pointing out what’s working and what could be improved upon, from a Strong Towns perspective. This Halloween, we invite you to take an observational walking tour of sorts on your own, using the holiday as an opportunity to consider walkability and street design in your town.

As you are trick-or-treating (or watching others trick or treat) this holiday, we invite you to consider the following questions:

If you’re trick-or-treating with children:

  • Are you doing it on foot or in a car? Why?
  • Do you feel comfortable and safe walking in your neighborhood? What could make your experience better?
  • Are you choosing to trick or treat in your own neighborhood or somewhere else? Why?

For everyone:

  • Is there more or less car traffic on this day? How about foot traffic?
  • Do the sidewalks and intersections in your neighborhood seem equipped to handle this volume of pedestrians?
  • Do people seem comfortable and safe walking in your neighborhood? Does your neighborhood feel more or less safe with this volume of people walking around?
  •  Do you see people out walking who don’t normally walk?
  • Does your neighborhood do “Trunk or Treating”? Why do you think they’d choose to do this instead of traditional door-to-door trick or treating?

Once Halloween is over, please send your observations to Strong Towns (quednau@strongtowns.org) and we’ll publish a compilation of them on our site.

Special thanks to Michelle Erfurt for the inspiration for this article. Top photo by Steve Hersh.