Several years ago, when mapping apps took our smartphones by storm, I started getting flooded with calls from people in my district who lived on small, residential streets that all of a sudden were being clogged with hundreds cars on a daily basis.
At that time, I introduced a motion to try to address the issue. In it, I sought to get Waze, the mapping app company, to partner with the city and help us alleviate high volume, dangerous traffic on certain residential streets. But the issue got no traction in City Hall and my motion didn’t see the light of day. So, I took it upon myself to work informally with Waze, but got no response.
That didn’t sit well, which is why I introduced a new motion aimed at getting the city’s transportation department to explore ways to reduce the negative impacts caused by Waze, Google and Apple. My new motion instructs LADOT to report to the City Council on the current city partnership with Waze and other apps, including detailing what information LA gives them and what the city gets from them, and what efforts LADOT has made to get the app companies to address neighborhood concerns. It also urges app companies to make their representatives available to work with the city to reduce problems caused by their technology.
I use mapping apps myself and I’m sure you do too. We can use them to make our lives and travel more efficient, but with every new app or technological advance, we also have to examine the resulting social consequences that they bring about.
If a mapping app saves a driver two minutes, but the result is that residents are forced to endure two hours of chaos each day as hundreds of cars get diverted onto small neighborhood streets, that isn’t a good trade off. We need to find a way to strike a better balance between the increased efficiency for app users and the adverse impacts of the apps on our neighborhoods.
The goal of my motion is to find ways to reduce the amount of traffic that is impacting small residential streets across the city because, right now, the mapping apps are overrunning streets that were not designed for this much traffic. The affected streets often have uncontrolled intersections, no sidewalks, blind curves, and accommodate kids walking to school and riding their bikes, yet hundreds of cars are pouring onto them. That’s just not reasonable or safe.
Nor is it safe when mapping apps route drivers onto streets that are closed for evacuation due to fires and other emergency situations, which is exactly what happened during the Skirball and Creek wildfires.
There are many things these app companies can do to protect residents’ quality of life and preserve public safety in our neighborhoods. Simply working cooperatively with the City of Los Angeles would be a good start.
If you have comments please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (818) 755-7676.
Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on Job Creation, represents Council District 2, which includes North Hollywood, Studio City, Valley Village and other communities in the East Valley.