Walkability expert comes to South Whidbey communities

On Monday and Tuesday, your own two feet will be the preferred mode of transportation on South Whidbey.

Dan Burden, a nationally renowned “walkability” expert, will visit South End communities to talk about pedestrian-friendly living as a part of the South Whidbey Walkable Communities Workshops.

He will hold presentations in Clinton, Langley and Freeland.

Walkability has been a much discussed topic on South Whidbey as a growing population and slowly adjusting road grids call for alternatives to driving.

Langley Councilman Robert Gilman said in walkable communities neighbors know each other, communication is better and less traffic means less impact on the environment.

“Sociologists call pedestrians the indicator species for a healthy community,” Gilman said.

Burden is a specialist in the field. He has had 25 years of experience in developing, promoting and evaluating alternative transportation facilities, traffic calming practices and sustainable community design.

He served for 16 years as the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the Florida state Department of Transportation, and he presently works as executive director of Walkable Communities, Inc., a non-profit corporation that helps develop walkable communities.

Burden has photographed and examined walking and bicycling conditions in more 200 cities in the U.S. and abroad. He also worked as a bicycle consultant in China for the United Nations in 1994, and he has been to Australia and many European countries to photograph their great cities.

Gilman said Burden is a vibrant speaker; the councilman just saw him at the Smart Growth Conference in Los Angeles, Calif.

And the walking expert has plenty of powerful visuals to complement his lectures.

“He was a National Geographic photographer. His presentations are breathtaking,” Gilman said.

Presentations are always richly illustrated with examples from near and far. Burden is currently part of a team collecting and analyzing traffic calming and innovative pedestrian facilities throughout the country.

Burden will bring a message about creating community for people, not just cars, Gilman said.

Nancy Rowan, executive director of the Langley Chamber of Commerce, said everyone can learn something from Burden.

“As our population increases with visitors, returning part-timers and new island residents, a walkable community helps minimize demand on the limited parking spaces in Langley as well as giving us all the opportunity to slow down, enjoy our beautiful view and connect with our neighbors,” Rowan said. “Truly a win-win situation.”

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