Betty Rose Cortes
WABI-ists join Maureen Hoffman, center, as WABI Burien hosts Feet First’s Second Annual Stairway Walks Day at Eagle Landing Park. Front row from left to right: Kelly Scholl, Skye Sakura, Kai Bjordahl, Chloe Swain and Bo Bjordahl. Back row from left to right: Misha Sakura and Hoffman, President of WABI Burien.

WABI Burien makes Top 10 of “Ten Great Things Happening in Washington State”

By Betty Rose Cortes

The town of Burien is getting local and national recognition with the help of WABI Burien, the city’s resident organized Walk Bike (WABI) community group.

Last week Washington D.C.’s Rail’s to Trails Conservancy listed WABI’s efforts in Burien as the 8th “Ten Great things happening in Washington state ” (railstotrails.org). And just this past Saturday, WABI put Burien on the list of Seattle’s walking group Feet First’s Second Annual Staircase walk (feetfirst.org), leading WABI and Feet First regulars down and back up 289 steps at the town’s infamous Eagle Landing Park.

Maureen Hoffman is the President of WABI Burien, which was organized by local residents of the community. “This all began in 2010 to encourage people to walk,” Hoffman said, “In 2011, we were recognized by the state and in 2012 we were recognized by the Federal Government.”
Hoffman and the team of volunteers that keep WABI running have made many strides to help make the town a more “walkable” and “bike-able” community.

“We started as a walking group,” Hoffman recalls, “and just through conversation and meeting new people on the walks, we found that many people also enjoyed cycling. So, that is where ‘WABI’ comes from, ‘Walk Bike’.”

Since WABI’s formal recognition from the state and federal government, the team of WABI volunteers that keep the organization running were able to secure a $10,000 grant for the City of Burien to work with the Economic and Revitalization Board to add 41 bike racks around the community.

“We’ve installed 23 bike racks around town,” Hoffman said, “we have 18 left and are working with private businesses to put them on their property.”

WABI’s effort to make Burien a more bike-able town was recognized by Rail’s to Trail’s Conservancy as the 8th “great thing happening” in the state of Washington, the most bike-able state for the 6th year in a row the site states. The Washington D.C. non-profit organization’s mission is to create a “network of trails” and it’s recognize the efforts of local organizations that do the same in their community.

With its accolade from the east coast, it is no surprise that WABI Burien would be recognized in its own state. WABI put Burien on local radar as the group joined a list of 18 Seattle-area cities that took part of Feet First’s Second Annual Staircase Walks Day on Saturday. The Staircase Walks Day is an annual event where participants from different cities walk designated staircases from 10am to 12noon. Feet First added Burien’s Eagle Landing Park to this year’s list and WABI Burien hosted the event.

Feet First is 13 year old Seattle non-profit organization that promotes walkable communities and continually advocates for the safety of walkers and promotes planning and development to allow people to travel by foot more easily. A similar sentiment that WABI Burien holds as its mission is to “nurture the walk/bike community in town” as stated on their website, WABIBurien.org.

In addition to promoting a healthier community through walking and biking, Hoffman encourages residents to shop locally.

“One of the best things about walking around town is getting to know the community,” she said, “we encourage people on our walks to walk with someone they did not come with and to shop locally to support the businesses in town.” In fact, during a recent Wednesday walk, led by Laura Gould, participants were led to 6 different bakeries around town, where at each stop, walkers were able to purchase an early morning breakfast item.

Other walks include trails around the community and special Walk-and-talks, where a special guest is invited to join the group. In January, Dr. Michael Schlitt was invited to walk with a group of 60-70 participants. He spoke about the health benefits of walking and gave each walker a free pedometer.

WABI Burien invites the community to join them every 1st Sunday and every 3rd Wednesday of the month for walking events. Events are free and registration is not required. You can find out more about their walking schedule and WABI’s efforts to make Burien a more walkable and bike-able community at www.wabiburien.org.

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