[sbs_tax tax="States"] [sbs_tax tax="Albany"]

A non-defense of the back alley, from the mean streets of suburban Dallas.

A trip to the Dallas Metroplex last fall helped acquaint me with a characteristic to Texas street subdivision design that I had never noticed before: the unusual prevalence of the back alley, even in housing built within the last 25 years.  While it’s possible this never struck me in the past because it’s a Dallas

Carryout and COVID: should the Maine Avenue Fish Market continue normal operations?

There can be no question that, at this point in the effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve reached a stage where national unity—if any such thing ever existed—is under strain.  Through much of March and at least the first week of April, the overwhelming majority of the country agreed that a lockdown was critical

Pandemic in the park: did restrictions around DC’s Tidal Basin help flatten the curve?

Given the patchwork of regulatory subcultures that our country’s federalist system inevitable creates, it should come as no surprise that this vast, diverse country is eliciting widely variable responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, both in terms of the key metrics—confirmed cases, deaths, recoveries—and in the fuzzier, day-to-day manifestation of this most acute of public health

Right-turn spurs get the axe in Alexandria: is it safer at any speed?

The vehicularly inclined among us have probably noticed how, in recent years, various cities have adopted new stripes, bollards, stanchions, and sometimes modified curbs that make it highly inconvenient to make right turns.  Yes, this is deliberate. No, it’s not happening to give motorists a hard time, though it definitely doesn’t make things easier, which

A construction staging area and a sidewalk: never a healthy pairing, but sometimes the treatment is worse than the disease.

For most of the 21st century, and certainly in the last ten years (since the Great Depression) the majority of American downtowns have enjoyed a reinvestment no longer measured merely in spruced-up old façades. The cranes, dozers and other construction equipment are all the evidence one needs. People are returning to central business districts, in

Angled parking in Oregon: a solution in search of a problem?

The affable little city of Corvallis (approximate population of 55,000) has a lot of things going for it: a large and prominent university (Oregon State); a downtown within walking distance of the big school, replete with locally owned retail (a real oddity in 2019!); a fortuitous location along the state’s prominent Willamette River and only

Contraflow: when compared to people or cars, salmon still have it the toughest.

It’s hard not to wonder if there are unspoken rules that explain why well-moving vehicular traffic operates in much the same configuration as human crowds in a congested, spatially constrained setting. Which came first? Well, humans/pedestrians obviously. But vehicular motion remains subject to numerous regulations in the interest of safety for pedestrians and other vehicles.

Portland: the apex of bike-friendliness—by American standards.

During my first visit to the West Coast in many, many years, I encountered the following sight on an unseasonably cold Friday morning in the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood of Portland. It might not seem terribly striking to readers of this blog from other countries—just a normal street scene. And even Americans may see nothing

Steering with stanchions: keeping the corners safe in the Christmas City.

For those of us who care about this sort of thing (the precious few), it’s become increasingly obvious that bollards have become a significant element of the average streetscape. We owe some of this, no doubt, to the unfortunate reality of an escalating collective fear of terrorist attacks in the form of vehicle ramming, either

Drive-thru Subway: a contradiction in transit…and in sandwiches.

The remote and rapidly depopulating town of Welch, West Virginia offers a handful of surprises: a remarkably intact and densely-built downtown with a fair share of four, five and even six-story buildings; a functioning Episcopal church; and a three-screen movie theater.But since I’m far more intrigued by the banal, the one image that really struck