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Can You Design A Liveable Street?

This new tool lets you mash up bike lanes, sidewalks, parks, and car lanes to see what kind of arrangements might make the most sense for your city.

What's your vision for the street outside? More cars? Less bikes? New tram? Get rid of the palm trees? Whatever it is, there's now an incredibly easy way of picturing it and sending it to your friends (or enemies) through software called Streetmix.

Streetmix began life, in January, at a hackathon organized by Code for America. Dubbed a "Peace Corps for geeks," the nonprofit's mission is to send coders to work on civic projects during breaks from their normal jobs.

Open up Streetmix, and name your street. Then you can start dragging elements into place: car lanes, bike lanes, trees, planting strips, lamp posts, pedestrians, buildings, and so on. You set the street's width yourself, anywhere from 10 to 400 feet.

The creators of Streetmix wanted to find an easier way for people to make street plans and share their work. And it seems like they've succeeded. In the six months since Streetmix went live, groups have used it to campaign against highway widening in Iowa, champion new buses in New Mexico, and draw attention to bike safety issues in Seattle.

The software's designers—Lou Huang, Katie Lewis, Ezra Spier, Ans Bradford, and Marcin Wichary—recently released an updated version, complete with nicer graphics and more options, including new transit modes and street furniture. There are even options to design for left-hand drivers (if you live in the India or the U.K.) or to work in metric measurements. Now, really everyone can be a street planner.

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