Livability trend puts walking expert in demand

By DAISY NGUYEN | June 19, 2011 | 11:13 AM EDT

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. (AP) — A walking expert is racking up a lot of miles as he travels across the country to advise cities that are seeking ways to make their streets more pedestrian friendly.

Dan Burden says that when he started approaching bureaucrats about developing walk-able neighborhoods 16 years ago, he could hardly get them to pay attention.

But today, they can't get enough of him as they come to see the health, environmental and quality-of-life benefits of getting more people on the street. City planners say it boosts public safety, raises property value and brings in more businesses.

Burden conducts so-called walking audits by foot where he points out poorly planned streets, intersections and sidewalks and suggests improvements.

Many of his ideas have been adopted by car-dependent cities in Southern California.