Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dan Burden Visit

Dan Burden at UALR, from Bud Laumer
Dan Burden leading the walking audit.
(photo from Bud Laumer)
A few dozen people (100+?) spent the afternoon over at UALR yesterday with Dan Burden of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute. He presented his spiel in the Donaghey Center, and then we went outside for a 2-ish hour walk near the 'corner' of University and Asher. Let's just say that we found a lot of opportunities for improvement for the University District planners to tackle over the next few years. One of the most encouraging aspects of the event was the wide variety of people and organizations present: Mayor Stodola, AARP, UALR, Arkansas Coalition for the Prevention of Obesity (http://www.arkansasobesity.org/), Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas, Little Rock Bike Friendly Community Committee, staffers from North Little Rock and Little Rock, staffers from the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, developers, individuals from all over the state, and others all came together with the common goal of learning more about making people the center point of community design rather than cars.

University and Asher
Not Walkable... yet.
Another encouraging observation was that Dan seems to be  very focused on Arkansas. He lives on the west coast and most of his work has been on the coasts, but he has recognized that (a) because of the size of our cities and towns, significant change will be a lot easier in Arkansas than in larger states, and (b) when significant change happens here, an often overlooked state, it'll be a major wakeup call for the rest of the country. This clearly wasn't his first visit to our state and nor will it be his last.

Here are some resources for further reading that Dan mentioned yesterday-
-LA County's Model Design Manual for Living Streets. Dan said this could easily be customized to fit the needs of a state like Arkansas.

Dan's ~20 minute TED talk back in 2011 gives an excellent overview of his message:

And here's a much longer version if you want to learn more. See the full version here, and a preview below:

Dan Burden: Building Livable, Walkable Communities from Commonwealth Club on FORA.tv

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