Friday fun streets.

People using Streetmix to tackle actual projects within their communities is something that warms our hearts (part 1, part 2), but our app is also supposed to be fun – and it seems that many of our users have a lot of it.

Scathing critiques, design statements, dreamscapes, even things that could be called streets only with huge suspension of disbelief… here’s a small selection of your creations that made us laugh. And think.

Note: Click on any image to see that street in Streetmix, and, by all means, remix it!

image

 

image

 

image

 

image

 

image

 

image

 

image

 

image

Streetmix in the real world (part 2).

image

More examples of Streetmix being used to tackle real-world street issues:

(Here’s part 1.)

We’ve just made a small change to the default layout when you create a new street by adding in a lane of parking on the side, opposite from the transit shelter bulb-out.
Why did we do this?
On-street parking acts as a protective “barrier of steel” between pedestrians and traffic, to use a term noted walkability expert Jeff Speck used in his book Walkable City.
Walkability leads to other benefits, too. Kaid Benfield, Director of Sustainable Communities at the Natural Resources Defense Council, writes:

We take it for granted, but on-street parking buffers walkers from the flow of traffic, providing them with an additional sense of comfort in a highly urban space.  The more comfortable we are walking, the more sustainability and health benefits we can enjoy.

We agree. Many of our streets have this condition, so we’ve updated our default layout accordingly.
And while we’re on the subject: parking doesn’t just buffer pedestrians – it can buffer bikes, too.  Several European cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen commonly have a row of parked cars separating traffic from bicyclists. While rare in the United States, this design is starting to gain traction in New York City, Chicago and a few other North American cities. We haven’t made this the default condition, but maybe someday we’ll have to – in the meantime, it’s pretty easy to try it yourself!

We’ve just made a small change to the default layout when you create a new street by adding in a lane of parking on the side, opposite from the transit shelter bulb-out.

Why did we do this?

On-street parking acts as a protective “barrier of steel” between pedestrians and traffic, to use a term noted walkability expert Jeff Speck used in his book Walkable City.

Walkability leads to other benefits, too. Kaid Benfield, Director of Sustainable Communities at the Natural Resources Defense Council, writes:

We take it for granted, but on-street parking buffers walkers from the flow of traffic, providing them with an additional sense of comfort in a highly urban space.  The more comfortable we are walking, the more sustainability and health benefits we can enjoy.

We agree. Many of our streets have this condition, so we’ve updated our default layout accordingly.

And while we’re on the subject: parking doesn’t just buffer pedestrians – it can buffer bikes, too.  Several European cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen commonly have a row of parked cars separating traffic from bicyclists. While rare in the United States, this design is starting to gain traction in New York City, Chicago and a few other North American cities. We haven’t made this the default condition, but maybe someday we’ll have to – in the meantime, it’s pretty easy to try it yourself!

Streetmix in the real world.

We’re very happy when people use Streetmix to propose improvements and ideas for actual streets in their cities.

Here are some we’ve seen:

How have you reimagined your streets? Let us know. And if you haven’t… give it a shot!

Sometimes the best solution is an old-fashioned one. In addition to sharing by Twitter or Facebook and sending out a link to your street, Streetmix now also supports… printing. 
It’s a bit experimental, so check it out and let us know if it works for you!

Sometimes the best solution is an old-fashioned one. In addition to sharing by Twitter or Facebook and sending out a link to your street, Streetmix now also supports… printing.

It’s a bit experimental, so check it out and let us know if it works for you!

We get awesome feedback:

I tried out your UTOPIA Street simulator and while I liked the ability to banish cars from the streets, I was disappointed that there was no way to ensure rent control after installing light rail. Nor was there any option to add a community billboard on the side of the building. There were no rooftop gardens, no hanging plants from street lamps, no way to add signage for shops on street level. And I was probably the most dismayed to see there was no way to add graffiti in order to make yuppies feel slightly uncomfortable, and to ensure that people living there felt a connection to the commons. I had to add all of these amenities by hand.—Hart Noecker

Duly noted and inspired.

We get awesome feedback:

I tried out your UTOPIA Street simulator and while I liked the ability to banish cars from the streets, I was disappointed that there was no way to ensure rent control after installing light rail. Nor was there any option to add a community billboard on the side of the building. There were no rooftop gardens, no hanging plants from street lamps, no way to add signage for shops on street level. And I was probably the most dismayed to see there was no way to add graffiti in order to make yuppies feel slightly uncomfortable, and to ensure that people living there felt a connection to the commons. I had to add all of these amenities by hand.
—Hart Noecker

Duly noted and inspired.

Designing sidewalks for inclusivity

Take a look at this sidewalk. Is anything missing?

image

Now take a look at this one.

image

That’s right – today, we’ve introduced a bunch of new avatars into our mix of pedestrians!

While it’s possible that some parts of a town might resemble the first screenshot, our neighborhoods really have a diverse population of people (and animals!) of different ages and abilities. Urban planners must serve the needs of all of them – and we here at Streetmix, too, want to make sure they’re represented in our streets.

After all, while wide sidewalks are great for walking side by side with a friend, they’re also great for dogs and wheelchairs! Go to Streetmix to play with sidewalks now, and let us know if there’s anyone we missed!