There's nothing like winning a lawsuit to get spring walks off on the right foot.

Just ask Jeanne Bocci, a schoolteacher and avid racewalker, who won her appeal last week of a Grosse Pointe Farms ticket for walking in the street."It's a weird law and it certainly isn't enforced consistently," she says with a laugh.

Bocci, 45, has logged a lot of miles - in and out of the street - in 25 years of racewalking. A typical day involves walking six miles to Grosse Pointe North High, where she teaches health education, then walking home after work. In 1987, she set a women's world record for a 100-kilometer walk (62.2 miles).

Whether you call Bocci dedicated or fanatic, she shouldn't intimidate walking neophytes with modest goals - muscle toning, weight loss and a spring tonic for the senses.

Walking is catching on among old and young alike, especially when knees and other joints rebel after years of jogging or other strenuous activities. Running creates far more stress on joints than walking. Granted, walkers must put in more time to cover the same distance as runners. But if they do so at a brisk pace, they achieve cardiovascular and fat-burning benefits comparable to running.

Walking is ideal for women prone to osteoporosis; they need weight-bearing exercise to promote bone building. And many converts say walking is a better tension-reliever than the pounding pace of running. Best of all, it's cheap and can be done almost anywhere.

The only prerequisite is comfortable, supportive shoes. Running shoes do the job but many shoes are made just for walking. They have more flexible soles and lots of cushioning.

Walking shoes have taken a long stride away from flashy athletic footwear. They lean toward leather uppers in earth tones or white, making shoes resemble classic oxfords or tennis shoes.

As walking becomes popular, specialty shoes appear .Avia recently introduced its 310 Mall Walker, "for people who walk for miles in malls without buying a thing.' Its high-traction edges grip waxed floors.