Nord Alley in Seattle is one of the success stories highlighted by Nelson in this picture-rich article. She emphasizes that transforming an alley doesn't take a lot of physical changes, just collaborative effort.
And the opportunity is significant, as report from a couple of University of Washington students shows:
"They studied downtown Seattle's alleys and determined that laneways cover almost half as much space as all of the zone's parks, squares, and existing pedestrian-oriented streets. In other words, reclaiming alleys could increase by almost half the pedestrian area of downtown Seattle."
Nelson also looks at alleys in Vancouver, San Francisco and Melbourne.