This Awesome App Helps You Add "Civic Bling" to Your Street

Bike lanes are cool and all, but haven't you always thought that what your neighborhood really needs is some bedazzled water fountains? You can pimp your block with Blockee, a tool designed by several Code for America fellows.

I used Blockee (above) to redesign a bridge in my neighborhood which local officials want to turn into a mini-freeway, with cars going 55 miles per hour and without a safe place for bikes or walkers. My vision still allows two lanes of traffic for cars but turns the bridge into more of a viaduct, with a bike lane as well as a dedicated place for pedestrians. And a produce cart, of course.

This Awesome App Helps You Add "Civic Bling" to Your Street

Blockee is really easy to use. Just type in an address to generate a Google Street View image (or upload your own photo), and using the blissfully simple editor, drag and drop everything from vegetable gardens to food trucks to bike share kiosks into the street. Once you share your creation, the site even offers tips for how to make your vision a reality. You can see plenty more examples from other cities on Blockee's Tumblr.

This Awesome App Helps You Add "Civic Bling" to Your Street

Blockee also has been proven to work, according to creators Jesse Bounds, Serena Wales, Nick Doiron and Tamara Shopsin. Jason Hibbets of Raleigh, North Carolina created the image you see above and included it a See Click Fix report about adding crosswalks to his street. The city of Raleigh responded with a work order.

Yes, there are more polished tools, like Streetmix (another Code for America project), which is so sleek and designy that it could almost be used by urban planners. But I like the way this feels accessible... and fun. I could see this being used at a workshop where people of all ages and backgrounds could easily explain how they want their street to change. Kids could use this to help make improvements to their walk to school. And by using a real Google Street View image, it just helps make the vision feel that much more real. Even if the lampposts are wearing sparkly pink bow ties.

Make your own Blockee here and share your civic bling below.