When the people whose houses hug the narrow warren of streets paralleling the busiest urban freeway in America began to see bumper-to-bumper traffic crawling by their homes a year or so ago, they were baffled.
When word spread that the explosively popular new smartphone app Waze was sending many of those cars through their neighborhood in a quest to shave five minutes off a daily rush-hour commute, they were angry and ready to fight back.
They would outsmart the app, some said, by using it to report phony car crashes and traffic jams on their streets that would keep the shortcut-seekers away…
There are some things that can be done to mitigate the situation, said Los Angeles Department of Transportation spokesman Bruce Gillman, like placing speed bumps and four-way stop signs on streets. Lanes could even be taken out to discourage shortcut seekers, but a neighborhood traffic study would have to be done first.
A fascinating confluence of driving culture and new technology. Now, no street near the major highways are safe from traffic!
It will be fascinating to see how the city responds to complaints from local residents. Having rush hour congestion on your residential road can make for quite a different experience. It is a quality of life issue – who wants to have bumper to bumper cars in front – and I suspect the residents are also worried about their property values. Yet, what about the concerns of drivers on highways like the 405 that handle over 375,000 cars a day? This is a classic stand-off between individual drivers and individual property owners – who should win between the prized American driver and property-owner?
The real solution here is to keep looking for ways to reduce the number of vehicles on the highways in the first place. However, such plans at this point in LA’s development require a long-term perspective and lots of money.