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Waze, side streets
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Should side streets be locals-only during rush hour?

A town in New Jersey has taken its streets off the Waze app during rush hour, to reduce traffic flowing onto the town's side streets (AP)

A New Jersey town has taken the fight again navigation apps to the next level.

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People have been fighting apps such as Waze since their inception. The apps find the shortest route to a driver’s destination, which leads to increased traffic through local side streets. The fight began with some people reporting fake accidents on apps to create fake congestion.

The City of Seattle has addressed the problem by installing turn-only lanes in neighborhoods to keep people from buzzing through streets on either side of Aurora Avenue.

Seattle’s new traffic diverters

The town of Leonia, New Jersey has another solution. That city installed signs and closed off 60 neighborhood streets during the morning and afternoon commutes.

“Because they have an app that says take a right, then a left, then a right, then a left, to shave three minutes off your commute, now they’re all over every narrow side street in this municipality,” said Leonia Mayor Judah Zeigler.

The navigation apps routinely direct drivers into Leonia — which is just across the Hudson River from Manhattan — when the interstate is backed-up, which is every morning and afternoon.

Commuters on side streets

Leonia residents say they are held hostage by commuters looking to shave a mile of congestion off their drive.

“It sometimes takes 10 minutes, 15 minutes [to get out of my driveway]. It depends on who’s going to be nice and how much I’m going to push up against their car until they let me out,” one resident told reporters.

“You don’t really want to go too far. Just because it could take you 20 minutes to go somewhere just a few miles,” another explained.

“I have a little brother. He’s 3 years old. When he’s playing in the front yard and there are a bunch of cars and traffic standing on our street, it’s scary,” another Leonia resident said.

Police began turning cars around and writing tickets on Monday. It came as quite a shock to commuter Loretta Thrower.

“I think it’s ridiculous, but I understand,” Thrower said. “We do have heavy congestion up here. We are close to the bridge. So I understand why people are a little frustrated in their neighborhoods and in their homes,” Thrower said.

The ticket will cost you $200 if you drive through the locals-only side streets in Leonia between 6-10 a.m. and 4-9 p.m., seven days a week.

Residents have been issued yellow placards for their cars to show police that they are locals. Mayor Zeigler says the apps should now show his town is off-limits.

“If a driver pulls up the Waze app, they will not be recommended to turn on any of our side streets because they’re all going to be shown as restricted access streets,” Zeigler explained.

There are now only three roads available to non-residents through the small town during rush hours.

Will other cities follow suit? Sounds like a good way for residents to take their streets back from commuters.

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