who actively use the app as of late 2017.
So what is a tech-hungry city to do to tackle the unwanted consequences? The City of Leonia has taken drastic measures to fight residential traffic due to Waze. The city has restricted 60 side streets to residents only during rush hour by issuing a bright yellow tag to keep in your car for residents of Leonia.
If you don’t have that tag, you can face a $200 fine.
Waze does seem willing to work with communities to limit residential traffic. Terry Wei, a Waze spokesperson, told the New York Times that if a road is legally reclassified into a private road then Waze’s map editors will respect that change.
Some residents have even resorted to reporting false blockages in an attempt to not have their neighbourhood as a route, but such an attempt couldn’t fool the crowdsourcing of Waze.
A less drastic solution could be to lower the speed limit on residential roads down to 30 km/h to promote safe driving in these residential streets, something that Keesmaat has recently endorsed for all residential streets in Toronto.
Steven Farber, an assistant professor of transport geography at University of Toronto, agrees with the idea to lower speed limits.
“Our speed limits are still too high on quiet residential streets,” he said. “If the city regulated the speed limit on these residential streets down to 15 or 10 km/h, Waze would no longer see these streets as attractive detours because the speed limits would be set too low and it wouldn’t actually save time. As long as they are open thoroughfares with relatively high speed limits, people are going to try to use those streets to cut through traffic,” he said.
However, Burnside disagrees that lowering the speed limit will affect the influx of cars from Waze.
“That isn’t going to change the drivers who are already using the streets. The cat is already out of the bag,” Burnside said.
Although Waze does have negative consequences, Farber highlights its benefits.
“I do see the positive of appbased routing because it really could increase the efficiency and optimality of our transportation system without spending money on new infrastructure. That’s a major win,” he said.
“Then it is about figuring out whether or not it is fair [to local residents].”