Dan Burden, the co-founder of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute and a pioneer of the country’s walkability movement, has been selected as a 2014 White House Champions of Change honoree.
Dan will take part in an award program in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 that will be live-streamed starting at 10 a.m. EST at www.whitehouse.gov/live.
Dan and 10 other honorees are being recognized for “their exemplary leadership to ensure that transportation facilities, services, and jobs help individuals and their communities connect to 21st century opportunities,” according to an announcement from the White House. Dan, in particular, is being honored for his lifetime of work that has helped refocus transportation investments on efforts that improve community health and well-being, enhance safety, stimulate local economies and celebrate community values.
Widely credited as the nation’s foremost pioneer of the “walking audit,” Dan helps people see streets through a new lens, one that emphasizes the value of redesigning streets and sidewalks to focus on people while also accommodating cars. Dan also uses photography—a skill he honed while shooting for National Geographic—to help residents envision a future that is healthier and more vibrant, with a strong sense of community and easy access to jobs and services.
In a typical year, Dan spends more than 300 days on the road, visiting communities of every size, type and geography. He leads scores of walking audits, which often function as mobile workshops, to reveal opportunities in neighborhoods and engage community members to develop solutions—anything from painting low-cost crosswalks and bike lanes, to building a big-ticket roundabout as a community gateway with street art, signage and landscaping.
Dan has been a Champion of Change for three decades. He got started in 1980 as the Florida DOT’s Bicycle Coordinator. He soon became the nation’s first statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, determined to make active transportation safe and viable. During the 1980s he pioneered the concept of the walking audit as a way to assess conditions and set priorities. Later, in the mid-90′s, he and Peter Lagerwey coined the term “road diet” and started popularizing this method of removing non-essential lanes to slow vehicles to safer speeds, reduce crashes and create more pedestrian and bike facilities. Road diets are now considered by the Federal Highway Administration to be “proven safety countermeasures.”
Dan co-founded the nonprofit WALC Institute in 2009. The organization has since directly assisted hundreds of municipalities and community organizations. Through his work with the Institute, he promotes pedestrian-scaled infrastructure, Safe Routes to School, “complete streets” and other people-focused transportation investments in places as varied as the Hawaiian island of Maui, the Cherokee Nation communities of northeast Oklahoma, the Mississippi Delta, and communities along the iconic Woodward Avenue in Detroit. Dan also is the Institute’s lead facilitator for “age-friendly communities” workshops conducted nationwide in partnership with AARP.