LA wants Waze to stop sending drivers down small side streets

May 6, 2019

With Angelenos from Encino to Echo Park complaining of a rise in disruptive cut-through traffic on residential streets, Los Angeles officials are trying to secure new data-sharing agreements with companies like Waze and Google Maps.

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday directed the city’s transportation department to attempt to persuade digital mapping companies to participate in a pilot program that would limit the streets that drivers are instructed to use in a given area.

Under the terms of a pilot program, transportation planners could work with app developers to ensure drivers aren’t instructed to take streets designated as local thoroughfares, access roads, and small hillside arterials.

Transportation staffers say it’s particularly important that drivers avoid these roads during special events, natural disasters, and school pickup hours.

Transportation engineer Brian Gallagher has suggested the Encino hills or the area around the Hollywood Bowl as potential test sites for the pilot.

At transportation committee meeting last month, Gallagher explained that, during peak hours when major corridors are clogged, mapping applications often divert drivers onto streets poorly equipped to handle high traffic volumes. On particularly narrow roads, this can create “standoff situations” or delay emergency vehicles.

“If there’s just one vehicle, they can pull off at the next driveway and pull over [for an emergency vehicle],” said Gallagher. “But when it’s a queue of 20 or 30 cars, all those vehicles cannot just pull over.”

If the pilot is successful, a similar program could be employed in other parts of the city—but it may be tricky to get companies to agree to the idea. Since the streets at issue are public, mapping companies can decide whether to include them in algorithms used to plan the rides of customers.

Originally posted by Curbed. Written by Elijah Chiland, Photos courtesy of Getty Images.

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