MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

The War on Waze

Politicians cause traffic jams, scapegoat an app.

Ericsch/Dreamstime.comEricsch/Dreamstime.comFrom coast to coast, prickly local residents are up in arms about commuters clogging their once-quiet neighborhood streets with bumper-to-bumper traffic, all to shave a few minutes off their daily commute.

This white-hot rage has largely fallen on Waze, a navigation app that alerts motorists to alternative routes on residential roads, away from the clogged and congested highways. The media have been quick to play up this angle. "Navigation Apps Are Turning Quiet Neighborhoods Into Traffic Nightmares," cried one New York Times headline from last year. "Waze, please stop ruining Los Angeles," implored GQ in 2016. Similar stories have popped up in USA Today, CityLab, and countless local papers.

Capitalizing on this resentment are local politicians, who are happy to shift the blame for traffic congestion onto Waze's shoulders and are now experimenting with strategies for blunting the app's effectiveness and punishing its users.

The epicenter of this fight is the nightmarishly congested Los Angeles, where the city government is mulling a lawsuit against Waze.

Last week City Councilmember David Ryu imploring the city's attorney to take some form of unspecified legal action against the app. "Waze has upended our City's traffic plans, residential neighborhoods, and public safety for far too long," he thundered in a press release. "If we do nothing, Waze will lead us on a race to the bottom—where traffic plans are ignored and every street is gridlocked."

It is true that it is inefficient to shift large amounts of traffic from L.A.'s highways and boulevards to neighborhood streets not designed to carry that kind of flow.

But Adrian Moore, a transportation expert at the Reason Foundation (the nonprofit that publishes this website), points out that these criticisms are a remarkable exercise in blame-shifting. Rather than causing traffic jams, Waze is giving drivers some opportunity to escape worsening congestion on city highways that planners and politicians have proven ineffective at addressing.

"Cities and states are not adequately managing their transportation systems and so they experience severe congestion, things don't work the way they're supposed to, including neighborhood streets," says Moore. "It's not really the app's fault, it's the congestion's fault."

The cause of worsening congestion, says Moore, is pretty simple: more people wanting to drive on the same amount of road.

This description fits Los Angeles pretty well. In 2001, Los Angeles County boasted 21,085 lane miles of maintained highways. In 2016, that number had not budged much, growing to only 21,826 lane miles. In the same period of time, the number of vehicle-miles traveled by Los Angeles commuters rose by some 10 million per day.

Consequently, congestion has gone nowhere but up. The TomTom Traffic Index estimates that congestion made Angelenos' commute times 45 percent longer in 2016, up from 31 percent in 2008. In 2017, the average L.A. commuter spent 102 hours in rush hour traffic, making it the most congested city in the world.

Prior to the rise of smartphones and navigation apps, commuters were more or less resigned to a fate of long, slow slogs on clogged highways. Now more and more commuters are being directed down previously unknown short cuts through neighborhood streets.

The predictable result has been a backlash of neighborhood residents against the commuters and their apps. At first this resistance was a purely grassroots phenomenon. One Los Angeles woman put up an angry sign aiming to shame commuters passing through her neighborhood. App users in places as diverse as Takoma Park, Maryland, and Tel Aviv, Israel, have reported fake accidents and speed traps in an attempt to fool Waze into redirecting traffic.

This has proven an ineffective strategy. Erroneous information reported to Waze is quickly contradicted by other app users finding free-flowing conditions, and the offending user is then suspended from the system.

But where private individuals have failed, the government is now stepping in. Their bizarre strategy: making those neighborhood streets worse to drive on.

Fremont, a Silicon Valley suburb that abuts the heavily congested Interstate 680, delayed traffic signals on its main boulevards and imposed rush-hour turn restrictions in an explicit attempt to scare away Waze users. The New Jersey town of Leonia—situated at the base of the heavily trafficked George Washington Bridge, which connects drivers to Manhattan—has taken this approach to an extreme by banning non-residents from driving on its roads.

Where they are not trying to scare drivers off certain roads, cities have been trying to coax them out of their vehicles by dropping speed limits and converting car lanes into bike paths and splurging on public transportation. Los Angeles has been leading the way with these kinds of "road diets," with city officials turning over whole lanes of its busy boulevards to bikers.

Often these plans have backfired.

Leonia's blanket prohibition has managed to reduce traffic on its residential streets. It's also managed to reduce traffic to its local businesses, with some reporting as much as a 40 percent drop in sales. The town is now being sued for closing off public roads to members of the public.

San Francisco spent $3.1 million to make a busy intersection in the Glen Park neighborhood more bus- and bike-friendly. In response, drivers skipped the intersection—to use narrower nearby roads.

Los Angeles has gone through a similar experience with its road diets. Instead opting for bikes and public transit—relied on for about 6 percent of the city's commutes—drivers have bailed off the boulevards and onto residential roads.

"If traffic doesn't flow any better on them then on the neighborhood streets, what's the incentive not to drive on the neighborhood streets?" says Moore.

Unless traffic flows better on these four- and six-lane boulevards and arterial roads, they will continue to be congested, and navigation apps will continue to direct people into residential areas.

Doing this, says Moore, requires a mix of road redesign to better handle thru traffic, congestion pricing (whereby drivers pay a variable toll depending on the number of cars on the road on existing road capacity), and building new roads to meet demand.

One possible objection to congestion pricing is that it might have the same effect as congestion: Drivers could react to new tolls by taking residential shortcuts. This is a fair concern, but there are reasons to think tolls could still reduce the number of people traveling through people's neighborhoods, even if it doesn't reduce the problem entirely. The drivers taking these shortcuts do not typically take residential and arterial roads for their entire trip. Thet're just trying to get around a particularly congested section of highway—the approach to the George Washington bridge, for instance. If congestion pricing is applied to a long enough section of road, most drivers would end up paying the tolls. Those who choose to do otherwise will suffer the consequence of longer travel times.

Some metro areas are already putting these ideas to the test. Washington, D.C., has built what are known as queue duckers—basically lanes that duck under an intersection—on some of its heavily trafficked roads, allowing motorists simply passing through an area to skip waiting and lights, thus improving traffic flow. Bakersfield, California, and Tampa, Florida have tried out similar designs.

L.A. and D.C. have likewise implemented a limited sort of congestion pricing in a couple of badly congested freeway lanes, but the idea's implementation is still very much in its infancy.

Ultimately, Moore says, Los Angeles needs to redirect its transportation dollars away from a little-used public transit system—which eats up about half of the city's transit budget—and into building more roads and adding lane-miles to meet increasing demand.

"When you are spending only about 50 percent of your money on a system that is carrying 90 some percent of your travel, how can you be surprised that's it not working well?" he asks.

Photo Credit: Ericsch/Dreamstime.com

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    We can't just have people choosing their own public roads.

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    We must have order!

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    [harrows Waze]

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    Yes.

    *smokes cigarette*

  • Hank Phillips||

    I instantly wanted some WAZE, until it became clear you could neither smoke nor vape it.

  • John||

    Google maps tells you traffic as well. Why are they not going after Google? This strikes me as politicians going after the competition of a politically powerful company.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    The take-away is that shows how little they know, yet they still want to legislate and sue. This is no different from any other political arena.

  • Illocust||

    Google bought Waze a few years back, because it had superior traffic data.

  • John||

    I didn't know that. But Google absorbs all of its competition. So, I should have realized it.

  • Echospinner||

    From an Israeli startup with less than 100 employees.

    We use it every day.

    Best navigation app by far.

  • StackOfCoins||

    Waze was acquired by Google in 2013.

  • DatCrazyMongoose||

    Google owns Waze, FYI. Apparently, they are still completely separate systems. I use both. Google Maps is better at finding specific locations and providing easy access to all sorts of information about them, but Waze is the better navigation app. I love being able to help out fellow commuters by providing real-time info about the road, including speed traps and hazards.

  • StackOfCoins||

    How does this real-time info work? Unless you're at a dead stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic, when do you have time when driving to mess with a phone?

    I'm aware a lot of people fuck with their phones while driving, but I'm not one of them, so this phenomenon is a mystery to me.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It collects data automatically using GPS data.

  • DatCrazyMongoose||

    Yes, it collects speed data, but the rest is reported manually on the fly. If you spot a car stopped on the side of the road, you make 3 clicks and it's reported. Cops can be reported in as little as 2 taps. Coins, don't pretend like you've never adjusted the radio or A/C while driving. It's the same thing, and no more dangerous.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Yes and nipples on a real human are the same as nipples on your phone

  • StackOfCoins||

    The radio and AC is located so my peripherals can still take in the road. They're also tactile dials and buttons, so I don't really need to look at them to find them.

    A touch phone is all screen, and mine is old (Galaxy S2 with a cracked screen). It goes in a cup-holder because I don't have a dash cradle. The only time I use it while driving is at a red light, and that usually ends with me shouting obscenities as it takes 5-10 seconds to register what I want it to do.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Not everyone is good at it. Some people can't even talk on the phone and pay enough attention to drive. Other people do it easily. A lot of people have mastered using their touchscreen navigation or their touchscreen audio system without crashing into stuff. Waze really isn't really that much different. Except for in your car, where you still have buttons and stuff. A lot of us don't. I rented a BMW not long ago where there was essential stuff buried in menus. It was aggravating. But, like it or not, it's a thing.

  • DatCrazyMongoose||

    I have mine mounted right between the radio and steering wheel, up high where it lies over the hood in my sightline. I agree that having to look away to use your navigation is not a good idea. I've had to shout obscenities at Waze a few times for taking me the wrong direction.

  • silver.||

    @StackOfCoins

    You have no idea what people do while driving these days. I was riding with somebody recently who was dropping people off after a night of drinking. She'd punch their address in the GPS, start driving, and start having a full-tint texting conversation. She split her attention evenly between the phone, road, and GPS screen looking for the next turn in a dense urban area. It was truly an impressive display of coordinated multitasking, except that she was piloting a 3000lb weapon. I started calling out fucking stop signs after she wantonly blew through a few. Holy-fucking-shit.

    A few days before that I was almost hit at an intersection when another person ran a stop sign. They hit a tree 6 feet away from me, I immediately looked at the driver, and she was already typing on her phone.

    Accidents are through the roof in my city right now. I used to see maybe one a month, now there's one outside of my apartment every other evening. The city is putting up blinking red lights all over the place. Everyone's gone mad.

    /get-off-my-lawn-rant

  • IceTrey||

    Then YOU shouldn't input on Waze. Maybe get a better phone you broke ass loser.

  • StackOfCoins||

    Don't forget to give Google/Apple your yearly installment of $600 for the new shiny.

  • Hank Phillips||

    There is such a system in Brazil that tracks its users' progress in a feedback loop. It thus detects collapsed bridges and landslides that take out chunks of road the altruistic State is powerless to prevent. God's will.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    "How does this real-time info work? Unless you're at a dead stop in bumper-to-bumper traffic, when do you have time when driving to mess with a phone?"

    lol

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Did you know that Google owns Waze?

  • Rhywun||

    Hey, I've heard that Google owns Waze!

  • StackOfCoins||

    Could you clarify that for me?

  • albo||

    He said, "Google owns Waze!"

  • StackOfCoins||

    ... but who owns Google?

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    Alphabet, Inc. Satan.

  • Longtobefree||

    Wait. What? The DNC bought Google?

  • Empress Trudy||

    Google owns Waze

  • Devastator||

    Google owns waze.

  • Chasman1965||

    Google owns Waze. In fact, Waze data populates Google Maps.

  • colorblindkid||

    Nobody should be able to be denied access to any public road, except for weight and dimensional limitations.

  • gormadoc||

    Why are you fat-shaming me?!

  • colorblindkid||

    I should sell bumper stickers for pickup trucks that say "I identify as a Mini Cooper"

  • gormadoc||

    Looks like somebody already had that idea. It's a good one.

  • A_Spellman||

    Ooh, how about stickers for Min Coopers that say "I identify as a Ford Supercab"?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Is a public road anything like a government road?

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Gee, how could this even be happening? I've been emphatically told that central planning always works.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    I always appreciate it when clever entrepreneurs find ingenious ways to avoid centralized planning.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Rather than causing traffic jams, Waze is giving drivers some opportunity to escape worsening congestion on city highways that planners and politicians have proven ineffective at addressing.

    How much of a moron would one have to be not to see this immediately?

  • colorblindkid||

    I'm guessing any reduction in traffic would have pretty significant reductions in CO2 emissions. They should sell it that way.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Enough of a moron to not only think that life imitates SimCity but to then build an entire career on that assumption.

  • Illocust||

    But public transportation sticks in sI'm city. At least the one I played.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    SimCity 4 has some awesome user-created traffic mods that (among other things) make the Sims' commuting behaviors more realistic, but even in the unmodded version you're gonna go bankrupt if you think your tiny rural community needs a monorail system.

  • BYODB||

    See, I was thinking of SimCity 2000 where if you cut traffic by even 1% everything went to shit.

  • StackOfCoins||

    YOU CAN'T CUT FUNDING!! YOU WILL REGRET THIS!!!!

  • StackOfCoins||

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Yeah, SimCity 2000 was pretty strict about not cutting funding for any public services ever. You could fund transportation at 100% (or above) and be fine, or you could fund it at 99% and end up with a wasteland of potholes and abandoned districts.

    I do miss the arcologies, though.

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    Whack-a-Mole! The game we can play forever! What shall we ban next to strike fear submission to the natural order into the kulaks and wreckers, my friends?

  • MichaeI Hihn||

    Also, nicely done, Britches. Deplorable lack of alt-text notwithstanding.

  • Juice||

    What shall we ban next

    Guns? Did I get it right? It's guns, isn't it?

  • sage||

    They don't like it because you can report where rent collectors- oops, I mean police - are hiding. This makes their job of collecting revenue - oops, I mean law enforcement - more difficult.

  • Juice||

    Subdivisions with toll booths. It's the only way.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    +1 burbclave

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    A counterpoint: I live on a dirt road, parts of which are 25% grade, parts of which have foot deep ruts. It connects at each end to I-80 over the Sierras.

    Every winter we get idiots who look to Waze or any maps navigator for alternate routes whenever the freeway shuts down due to whiteout conditions, spun-out big rigs, and other weather problems. They see this "alternate" route and line up to get stuck in the mud. It is flat amazing how stupid these people are, as if the weather is different just a half mile sideways, as if the state somehow has this secret side route which is always kept open for emergencies even when they don't have enough snowplows for the freeway, even if they don't have enough tow trucks to pull big rigs up cliffs or to clear away all the city slickers who think an $80,000 SUV has magic 4x powers not available to anybody else.

    However, last thing I want is for the government to step in. They won't do squat ti improve matters. If they start throwing their weight around and telling Waze what to do, they might get this one dirt road right, but they will get a hundred others wrong.

    And we won't get to suck money out of those city slickers when they get stuck in the two foot snow covering the foot deep ruts.

  • StackOfCoins||

    There are a lot of drivers who have decided to stop even attempting to navigate on their own, and just go into autopilot mode, doing whatever the map tells them to.

    I live in a neighborhood with short streets packed close together. If I order a Lyft, GPS will often get confused and send the driver to the street just south of mine. I've watched these idiots circle the same block 3 or 4 times on the app before they call me. And this is when I ask for it AT MY STREET ADDRESS. They don't even look for the street, they're just operating on autopilot.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I've stopped a few and tried to talk with them, find out why they think there's better weather on this secret road just a half a mile from the freeway. Universally they give a blank stare, as if they are hearing bumpkinese and can't understand a word I am saying.

    They seem to understand the request for cash all right, once they are stuck in foot deep mud. But I doubt they could provide any intelligent answers even then.

  • Richard Opheim||

    Sounds like Waze has handed you a business opportunity, free of charge. Wish it would happen to me.

  • Ron||

    Whenever someone ask me to get them out of the snow I always reply. You knew it was snowing what did you think you were going to do because I'm not breaking my truck to pull your stupid a$$ out of the snow.
    It happens every year multiple times in my neighborhood.

    I think I know what road SR&C is referring to I live down the hill from there

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    C.R.!

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""There are a lot of drivers who have decided to stop even attempting to navigate on their own, and just go into autopilot mode, doing whatever the map tells them to.""

    Mayhem.

    Turn Right.... NOW!

  • Michael S. Langston||

    If you live in a snow prone area with lots of idiots and a truck with enough strength, you might be passing up easy money every now and again.

    "Sure, I'd like to help you, but the lack of cash in my wallet has me a little depressed. What say we trade?"

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    If Waze isn't recommending the best route, then it's not going to be used long term. The free market is a bitch.

    Both Waze and Google maps desperately need to recognize road conditions. I do a lot of traveling and have occasionally been routed on to roads that are impassable with my little sedan because of snow or washouts.

  • Illocust||

    You can report that a road is impassible to Waze. I've done it a couple times.

  • Mark22||

    It is flat amazing how stupid these people are, as if the weather is different just a half mile sideways, as if the state somehow has this secret side route which is always kept open for emergencies even when they don't have enough snowplows for the freeway

    I don't see why this is so hard to understand. Highways have accidents that sometimes take hours to clear, and taking side-roads is usually perfectly reasonable. There are plenty of paved roads that are fine for bypassing accidents on I-80, even in bad weather. The problem in your case is that Waze directs regular cars onto a rutted steep dirt road in bad weather; that's a problem no matter why it directs people there.

    If this is a public road and you want to be nice about it, do two things: (1) report to Waze and Google that they erroneously list a dirt road as a paved road, and (2) have the city put up a sign "Steep, unpaved road ahead; 4WD recommended."

    And if this is a private road, you better do something or there are all sorts of unpleasant legal things that can happen.

  • sage||

    "Waze, please stop ruining Los Angeles"

    Lol, that's like telling someone to make a turd not stink.

  • BYODB||


    Where they are not trying to scare drivers off certain roads, cities have been trying to coax them out of their vehicles by dropping speed limits and converting car lanes into bike paths and splurging on public transportation. Los Angeles has been leading the way with these kinds of "road diets," with city officials turning over whole lanes of its busy boulevards to bikers.


    Gee, you mean to tell me when you close off usable roads to passenger vehicles the other roads get more congested? DO TELL, EINSTEIN!


    Doing this, says Moore, requires a mix of road redesign to better handle thru traffic, congestion pricing (whereby drivers pay a variable toll depending on the number of cars on the road on existing road capacity), and building new roads to meet demand.


    Uhh, no. Fuck you, and fuck this, and fuck your usage of 'thru'. The roads, I am told, are paid for via taxation so you want us to be taxed to pay for it AND pay a usage fee? No, fuck you. Also, you want to pay more for consumer goods shipped in via road? Why?


    I mean, most of these examples are in California so it's odd they don't suggest jacking up taxes to the nth degree to pay for their infrastructure. Guess they're too busy social signaling by making bike paths than to pay any attention to what needs doing.

  • Ron||

    Just last year they (California) did raise both the gas and dmv fees for just this purpose even though that money goes to the general fund and never makes it to the roads only bank account

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    Uhh, no. Fuck you, and fuck this, and fuck your usage of 'thru'. The roads, I am told, are paid for via taxation so you want us to be taxed to pay for it AND pay a usage fee? No, fuck you. Also, you want to pay more for consumer goods shipped in via road? Why?

    +1

    It's always amazing to me that people who are intolerant of other people usually love living in densely populated places like Los Angeles and New Jersey. There are large swaths of this country where there are no neighbors in sight and barely any cars will ever pass your house.

    The bottom line is that people want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to be around lots and lots of people and enjoy all the good things that entails, but they don't want to accept the annoying things you have to tolerate.

  • Juice||

    App users in places as diverse as Takoma Park, Maryland

    Um, I can't see how winding through Takoma Park would save anyone any time getting anywhere. Also, it's basically a thru zone anyway. There's no good way to get from East DC or Hyattsville to Silver Spring without cutting through Takoma Park, which is basically all "neighborhood streets." Takoma Park has tons of thru traffic just because of where it is and the fact that there's no bypass at all.

  • John||

    Me either. Here is the thing with trying to bail off main roads to avoid traffic. You are not the only one with the idea. So bailing out almost never helps and usually hurts. You just end up sitting in the same traffic while taking a longer route. You are better off toughing it out on the main road.

  • Griffin3||

    Dunno. Down here in the South, have had the google maps and/or waze take me on some splendid detours around traffic. Usually with very few other cars on there. I wonder if it is because of lower phone/map usage in the south, or just because I usually keep an eye out well in advance on my route, and usually have detours mapped out before I near the last-minute exit.

    I once took a detour around a google-traffic black stretch of interstate on the Atchafalaya Swamp bridge on I-10 that involved a gravel road, and got back on the interstate most of an hour before the traffic cleared.

  • I can't even||

    My company just moved our office. We went from a nice suburban building that was easy to get to from any direction - to one right near the entrance of the Holland Tunnel. From any direction we have to navigate through hellish traffic because New Jersey gave them a big tax-break to relocate there. Thanks guys. And you can take that toll idea and shove it unless it replaces the increased gas tax I'm paying.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Waze is the bomb diggity.

  • Devastator||

    Yeah it used to give kind of shitty directions, but now it's pretty good. That plus seeing/reporting police speedtraps it has definitely won my

  • jdgalt1||

    Local governments created the gridlock by failing to build the new and widened roads that our gas taxes pay for. They do this out of the stupid hope they can bully us into not driving. So screw them, and screw the constituents who consider those local streets to belong to them. If I lived there, I'd be using Waze too. And if Waze caves in, some other app will take its place.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Or Waze's parent company could just purchase the entire city of Los Angeles.

  • Ron||

    and when apps fail there are still paper maps. people just need to take a few side roads now and then to familiarize themselves. its not just a good idea for traffic but in case of an emergency

  • Rhywun||

    Build more roads... where? I'm sure the poors won't mind being eminent-domained out of their slums - again.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    "Waze has upended our City's traffic plans, residential neighborhoods, and public safety for far too long," he thundered in a press release. "If we do nothing, Waze will lead us on a race to the bottom—where traffic plans are ignored and every street is gridlocked."

    This can't possibly be real.

  • StackOfCoins||

    Are you doubting how myopic the mind of a statist is? Or their capacity to lie to advance an agenda?

  • Sevo||

    I know when I go somewhere, I always check the official plan to make sure I go the way they want me to!

  • Conchfritters||

    That dude needs to get ahold of himself. What a little bitch.

  • Sevo||

    "San Francisco spent $3.1 million to make a busy intersection in the Glen Park neighborhood more bus- and bike-friendly. In response, drivers skipped the intersection—to use narrower nearby roads."

    You don't know the half of it.
    SF has spent many millions in the hopes of making driving miserable, and largely succeeded. On certain routes. Presuming that drivers would never, ever look for alternative routes; the gov't is smarter than the drivers, right?
    SF government is a case study on how to screw with a city through social engineering; get one of the supes to go on record regarding 'rent control' if you want some truly laughable bullshit.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Hey, I hear the SF mayor has openly admitted that their progressive homelessness policy not only failed, but actually made the problem worse. That's worth something, right?

  • BYODB||

    Maybe, but was their solution to double down is the real question...

    /semi-sarc

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I don't know what the solution is, I only know what the rhetoric was, and the rhetoric admitted that previous doubling down actually encouraged and making homelessness worse.

    Sure, someone will probably suggest quintupling down, but again, at least the words that came out of the Mayor's mouth sounded like a step in the right direction.

  • Sevo||

    "Sure, someone will probably suggest quintupling down, but again, at least the words that came out of the Mayor's mouth sounded like a step in the right direction."

    He's suggesting spending more money.

  • Sigivald||

    "But our plaaaaans!"

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Didn't survive first contact with the enemy.

    Enemy = constituents.

  • Ron||

    by the same people that make train stations 200' too short

  • Sevo||

    Oh, and my 10 (?) YO Garmin which gets used in the 'older' car does exactly the same thing: ' BEEP - traffic ahead, exit left on X'.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    """Cities and states are not adequately managing their transportation systems and so they experience severe congestion, "'

    Well if people don't get stuck in traffic all the time, how are you going to get them to accept congestion pricing?

  • albo||

    LA is insane. I learned that LA coffee shops actually offer valet parking since other parking is so scarce. "Hey, let's get a cruller. Where's the valet?"

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    The next step is always to implement traffic calming measures on their local streets.

    Of course by calming they mean impeding or otherwise frustrating drivers.

    It's always entertaining when someone shortcuts a chicane or hits a speed bump too fast and ends up out of their lane.

    Kind of fun when they tear up a garden or lawn. Less entertaining when they mow down a ped or cyclist.

  • JunkScienceIsJunk||

    If traffic on highways is a real problem, the best solutions are:

    1) Stop pulling people over on highways. This INVARIABLY leads to rubberneckers who create mile-long backups. Even just having a cop on the side of the road causes many drivers to panic, slamming on their brakes which perturbs the flow of traffic. Make highways a cop-free zone.
    2) Cut the shit with all the construction. It's 2018, road maintenance can be done a lot more efficiently than it is.

  • Briggie||

    Where I Live (Charleston SC), we have a lot of congestion problems. I rarely see police make stops on the highway during rush hour. When there is an accident is the only time they show up. Construction crew also only work at night here.

  • PaulTheBeav||

    The best fix for this would be to loosen zoning laws and ease the permit process for building housing near where people work. People don't live far away from work because they want to. They live far away from work because they can't afford housing closer. If everyone lived within 5 miles of where they work we'd see all of these traffic problems go away.

  • Dan S.||

    People can plan routes that cut through local streets using Google Maps, without Waze, if they want to. I would think that GPS units might pick such routes automatically if they were the fastest or shortest. Maybe Waze is programmed to do that more readily than the typical GPS, I don't know. I suspected years before Waze ever existed that Leonia, NJ might at some point try to prevent outsiders from using its streets as a shortcut to the GW Bridge. And there is a community north of Philadelphia whose streets form an easy shortcut between I-95 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, but I haven't heard any complaints so far about that.

  • Jerryskids||

    Capitalizing on this resentment are local politicians, who are happy to shift the blame for traffic congestion onto Waze's shoulders and are now experimenting with strategies for blunting the app's effectiveness and punishing its users.

    You mean "re-educating" its users. It's really for their own good.

  • The Last American Hero||

    ROADZZZZ!

    They can't even get that part right.

  • mtrueman||

    "When you are spending only about 50 percent of your money on a system that is carrying 90 some percent of your travel, how can you be surprised that's it not working well?" he asks."

    Does the author support public money to subsidize private travel? Only about 50%? When does a Libertarian support any public money going to subsidize private interests, travel or otherwise?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I'm trying to find a point in that haystack of a comment.

  • mtrueman||

    The key is putting a little thought into it. Not much, just a bit more than the author of the piece apparently has.

  • Christophe||

    Most of LA's transportation funding comes from either local or federal gas tax revenues.

  • mtrueman||

    I would have thought the Libertarian position would be to reduce or eliminate gas taxes, rather than call for increased government subsidies for private transportation.

  • Griffin3||

    The libertarian position is to use the gas taxes for road projects, instead of up to 80 percent of the tax being used for bicycles, mass transit, parks and job training.

  • Empress Trudy||

    Outlaw all phone apps everywhere for everyone. Million dollar fine and 10 years in the gulag

  • Longtobefree||

    "Waze, please stop ruining Los Angeles," implored GQ in 2016.

    Uh, too late. LA ruined LA years before 2012.
    People keep voting for liberals, and get liberal ides implemented in law. Then they are shocked, shocked, to find out reality beats fantasy every time.

    I actually lived in the LA area (there actually is no such thing as LA, just 55 suburbs in search of a city) in the late seventies / early eighties. I ran like hell clear across the country to get away from what it was becoming then, and now the 'dream' has been fulfilled. I have no sympathy for anyone who remains there; no job is worth that price.

  • Raoul Duke||

    Don't worry LA, you were terrible long before Waze was even an idea.

  • CA_is_doomed||

    But, but, we've been told that unfettered immigration is a good thing?!?!?!?

  • Rich||

    The cause of worsening congestion, says Moore, is pretty simple: more people wanting to drive on the same amount of road.

    And the cause of more people wanting to drive on the same amount of road is also pretty simple: the lack of mandated staggered work times. Or maybe it's the crumbling infrastructure. Or just more people.

  • Hank Phillips||

    The world's population was down to only 3.9 billion when the Libertarian Party slipped Roe v. Wade into the Supreme Court. Now barely 7.6 billion remain. "Too many people" is just the sort of heathen atheism one expects from the likes of Rich. Baby killer!

  • Hank Phillips||

    So? What do you expect from selfish and irresponsible Boojwah klepitalism? What we need is government ownership of the streets and roads, duh!

  • JFree||

    Doing this, says Moore, requires a mix of road redesign to better handle thru traffic, congestion pricing (whereby drivers pay a variable toll depending on the number of cars on the road on existing road capacity), and building new roads to meet demand.

    These are three mostly crap ideas.

    What cities need to do is eliminate vehicular thru traffic entirely in residential areas via bollards, repurposing intersections for public/parapublic transit, etc. Those can easily become an actual alternative city-wide transport network for locals - but not if people are using it as ratruns.

    Congestion pricing is basically a waste. It will purely be seen as a revenue tool - and the result will be some Robert Moses type who will gut the city

    'Building roads to meet demand' is even stupider. Cities are the same fucking size they were 100 years ago. The land does not expand. It is a zero-sum game. Building roads equals eliminating everything else. This is a purely suburban idea - and cities should start telling suburbanites to eff off and should start concentrating on making their cities better places to live - not faster places to drive thru.

  • Tatil Sever||

    Very shortsighted and/or scarcely researched conclusion. Congestion is not linear. if you push 10% of the commuters using public transit to driving, 90% that are already driving will end up spending a lot more time on the road despite the extra money for roadbuilding. In any case, LA has tried spending most of its transit budget on adding more roads for decades, it didn't help. New roads provide temporary help until enough people say "I could buy a bigger house with the same budget a few miles down the road, my commute will only be five minutes longer" Eventually, congestion turns that into half an hour. There is no way to get rid of congestion without an efficient public transport system.

    ...or cities could try building more apartments along busy boulevards so that people can live closer to work and use the already existing public transport system. Instead, we have strip malls with single story buildings surrounded by mostly empty surface parking lots. Just imagine if many of them had a couple floors of residential units on top of those stores.

  • Violent Sociopath||

    This is a fine solution except for two things:

    * The existing public transport system sucks giant hairy unwashed moose whang, such that anybody with alternatives will avoid it; and,
    * "Apartments along busy boulevards" in practice turn out to resemble nothing so much as Soviet-style tenements, such that people with alternatives will avoid those, too.

    The core problem with the kind of urban planning you're advocating is that it's wildly, catastrophically at odds with the revealed preferences of the actual human beings whose interests you're supposedly trying to serve.

  • CA_is_doomed||

    This is the result of a complete lack of planning on the part of local and state government. No infrastructure upgrades since the 1950s.

  • mtrueman||

    We need more local and state planning!

  • IceTrey||

    This is why big cities should support computer controlled cars. Make them a mesh network so they all know were each needs to go and Bob's your uncle.

  • GeneralWeygand||

    I live in Fremont and can say with absolute certainty that Afghan/Indian drivers (both male and female, but females especially) are the worst fucking drivers and amplify gridlock with their fucking God awful driving. They yield when they aren't supposed to, don't yield when they should. What's worse is they all go to the same driving instructors who perpetuate this horror on the rest of us.

  • vek||

    They've been getting rid of car lanes everywhere in Seattle the last couple years. Also adding speed bumps to roads the completely don't need them. Basically anything they can do to make it miserable to drive.

    All it has done is make traffic worse of course. I hate these anti car zealots. They need to be adding more lanes, not fewer. Hell, in some spots like downtown I would even be OKAY with them getting rid of street parking to add extra lanes since there are parking garages, and they charge for street parking anyway... But that would make too much sense I suppose. I mean why would they want to add more lanes to the fastest growing large city in America, that also has the 3rd/4th worst traffic? That'd be CRAZY!

  • Pat001||

    Waze found a route to my office I never would have tried – that cut four miles and ten minutes off my drive to and from work. The new route takes me down one residential street, but I keep the speed down so I don't become a nusiance.

    BTW one of the best Waze features is the warnings about red light and hidden speed cameras and cops w/radar.

  • Pat001||

    "App users in places as diverse as Takoma Park, Maryland...have reported fake accidents and speed traps in an attempt to fool Waze into redirecting traffic."

    I've driven through Tacoma Park and traffic there was f-ed up long before Waze. There is a certain mindset in some urban areas where people think they have the right to decide who can drive through their neighborhoods. First-world problem!

  • Mark22||

    "Waze, please stop ruining Los Angeles,"

    "Russia, please stop ruining Hillary's unbridled path to the presidency!"

  • JNYC||

    Over the last 10 years I have often gone through Leonia to avoid the highway traffic. I also stop at their Dunkin 50% of the time. I use the main streets (Fort Lee Road and Grand Ave) which are still open to non-residents. This pass year the Leonia advantage has been removed, not by the laws, but because Waze has informed others of the secret until it is no better than the highway.

    My solution? Since I'm now retired I just choose to travel on off-peak times. I'd be willing to pay more for the fastest route during peak times but there is no congestion pricing. I also have the option of using the Tappen Zee Bridge, which is currently being replaced with bridges of greater capacity. Again, I'd love to pay for the advantage of a faster route. Other might car pool to pay for a faster route. Market pricing helps to allocate scares resources.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online