(SIOUX CITY, IA) How often do you walk around downtown Sioux City? Experts say probably not enough. Members of the Walkable and Livable Communities institute teamed up with the folks from the Blue Zones Project to take a closer look at the city.
"Sioux City is not yet walkable," says Dan Burden.
Which is Why Dan Burden and his team from the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute showed up to point out what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong.
'We're going to teach people how to see with their own eyes, to feel with their own feet what its like to be a pedestrian in their own city," he says.
From tennis shoes to sandals, people took a stroll through the downtown streets.
"You can do your tree wells as rectangular as opposed to squares and that frees up a lot of space," says Burden.
Listening closely to Burden's advice - after all, he's been doing this for more than 35 years helping 3,000 communities become more sustainable.
"We start with the downtown because it is the heart, the core, the identity, the character, the personality of any city and then we make sure that that principle, what we see and talk about gets carried into the next ring of growth away from the downtown and then eventually into all the suburban areas," he says.
His advice ranges from the width of sidewalks, to the amount of "furniture" or decorative things like benches and planters along the sidewalk. Burden says those things can act as a buffer between cars and people.
He suggests making crosswalks brighter and easier to see for pedestrians and cars because its a cheap way to transition into a more walkable city.
"The whole concept of the blue zones is to address all of the principles of good health and longevity," he says. "In this case as we look at the built environment we're looking at, why is it unnatural to walk today?"
A question Burden hopes everyone in Sioux City will consider.
"These are little things that don't cost a lot of money but boy do they ever start to send messages that we're starting to focus on people," says Burden.
And it's just the beginning of a supportive nudge to a healthier community.
Again, the WALC Institute teamed up with the folks from the Blue Zones Project. Sioux City was designated a "Blue Zones Area" earlier this year. Find more information on what Blue Zones is here: http://www.bluezonesproject.com/
And more information on WALC visit: http://www.walklive.org/