Waze has long been a darling among travelers. A smartphone app that notifies drivers of delays, construction, vehicles pulled over on the side of the road or police trying to catch speeders, Waze provides valuable information and alternate routes to road warriors.
For cities, however, Waze and similar apps are often a nuisance, routing traffic through neighborhoods, subdivisions and backroads in an effort to avoid slowdowns on the main routes. This often causes congestion in neighborhoods and results in additional wear and tear on roads that were never intended to handle the extra load. In addition, because mobile mapping apps aren’t always accurate, there have been instances where drivers were directed to streets that were closed or being evacuated, not to mention sometimes recommending illegal turns.
According to the Daily Breeze, at least one major city is trying to tackle the problem head-on. Los Angeles ran a pilot program designed to help control cut-through traffic. The goal of the program was to “develop data sharing agreements” and the city “proposed restricting vehicle routing onto impacted street segments as a condition of entering into any data-sharing agreements.”
Apple Maps, TomTom and Waze were invited. Apple and TomTom were both willing to be part of a pilot program but Waze and, by extension, Google Maps were unwilling to participate. In response, L.A. Department of Transportation officials are looking at changing the L.A. Municipal Code to prohibit navigation apps from rerouting traffic “inconsistent with City street designations.”
Cities around the country will likely be watching L.A. to see what effect any proposed changes have.