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69 articles

Georgetown Circle: cutting the corners out from the old courthouse square.

Where I grew up in the Midwest, most county seats enjoy an almost overbearingly consistent urban form at their historic core.  With few exceptions, they feature the archetypal courthouse square.  The four blocks fronting this courthouse—the four sides of the square—serve as the commercial core, with a variety of different sizes of 19th century buildings:

Falls Church, Virginia: an independent city asserting its identity through…stop lights?

After seventy years of steady and often astronomical growth—from 1940 to 2010—suburban Fairfax County Virginia finally slowed in the 2010s to a more modest pace.  It had no choice.  This county opposite the Potomac River from Washington DC is developed across about 75% of its 390-square-mile land area.  Even more impressive is that isn’t even

“STUDENT DRIVER” strikes again…or do we expect hired drivers to be amateurs?

As I fine-tune and finish up a much longer blog post, I wanted to fill this dry spell with some amusing content that serves as a follow-up to an unexpectedly popular blog post from about a year ago.  I noted last spring the strange, recent proliferation of bumper stickers (magnets in actuality) alerting passers-by of

Sign regulations: gotta be something to protect us from spam on two legs.

By far the most common keyword I’ve used in this blog is “signage”.  At the time of this post, I have written 205 articles that feature the topic.  This should come as no surprise.  After all, it’s a blog on the built environment, and signs are ubiquitous anywhere humans have a presence; additionally the fundamental

Analog Memes, Part I: a guardrail as the artists’ canvas. 

It’s hard to imagine this in 2022, but there was indeed an era when meme was not a part of common parlance.  Such a time may be hard to conceive for the Generation Zoomers, but most older Millennials and all Xers can recall when they somehow knew and fully understood what the term means, even

Eagleridge Shopping Center: rockstar parking…in strip mall suburbia?

Salvaging the subject of strip mall soulfulness for a second study, I present a regional shopping center of no great distinction.  Much like the suburban structures of the previous article, Eagleridge Shopping Center is unusually coy about its name; the massive sign facing Interstate 25 forces the title to the absolute bottom.  Most people probably

Maryland House: a posh new travel plaza is already running on empty.

By this point, we’ve all encountered the legions of business closures induced by COVID-prompted shutdowns of commerce and travel over the last year.  I’ve tried to avoid too much of the cynical coverage of vacancies, instead focusing on clever strategies that various storefront retailers have deployed to generate sales from a carryout vantage point, when