Learning to Walk: Not Always So Easy in the Contemporary City

Driving along Route One in New Jersey last week, looking at the mammoth car dealerships and shopping centers lining the eight-lane highway, it was difficult to see how the words of noted Danish urbanist and architect Jan Gehl applied in such an environment. Where was there a public space to revive? Where was there a place to put a sidewalk cafe, a bicycle lane or a bench?

Gehl had spoken that same night before an audience of public officials and interested citizens in nearby Princeton, most of whom were participating in The Mayors’ Institute on Community Design for two days at Princeton, organized by Regional Plan Association and the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Office of Smart Growth. Gehl spoke at McCosh Hall, inside one of the classic stone buildings at the university, as students made their way outside over a thin blanket of snow.

A Bicycle Can Get You From Here to There

That’s Good For You, Good For Everyone Else.

Wednesday, May 26, 1999

I’m going to talk about bikes today. So I’m going to speak very slowly, so my colleague Dave, “I’ll get out of my car when they pry my cold dead hands from the steering wheel” Addis, will perhaps understand me.

It’s funny about bicycles. When I suggested a while back accommodating them more on local roads, Addis, who has become the leading supporter of the traffic-jammed, suburban status quo, could only think of Bejing or Bombay. Yellow and brown hordes on rusty bicycles jostling for space on dusty roads with chickens and stray dogs yapping at their heels. Who wants that?

Urban Renewal in Norfolk

What Was Lost: A lot.
What Was Gained: Not Much.

Tuesday, August 10, 1999

The 1950s was about new stuff, not old stuff. The United States had spent two decades postponing consumption as it fought the Great Depression and then World War II. It was ready for new cars, houses, roads and ways of doing things. With a vengeance.

It was in this spirit that from 1949 into the early 1960s, Norfolk proceeded to tear down most of the buildings and streets built over the previous 275 years. A city founded in 1680 was left with little built before 1900. Cities around the country followed its example.

Typing For Non-Conformists

The Dvorak alternative keyboard is a boon for the aching hand.


I’m writing this essay in a different language. It’s called Dvorak.

The words in my mindnd on the screen are coming out the same as always. But my fingers on the keyboard, the tool I use to translate mental words to written ones, are moving differently than they have over the last 20 years. My fingers are speaking Dvorak.

Perhaps it was an impending middle-age crisis, but at age 39, after a decade as a journalist and two decades typing everything from college papers to months-long newspaper projects, I wanted to see if I could do something as fundamental as shift my system of typing.