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LA Councilman Asks City Attorney To 'Review Possible Legal Action' Against Waze (arstechnica.com) 214

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Yet another Los Angeles city councilman has taken Waze to task for creating "dangerous conditions" in his district, and the politician is now "asking the City to review possible legal action." "Waze has upended our City's traffic plans, residential neighborhoods, and public safety for far too long," LA City Councilman David Ryu said in a statement released Wednesday. "Their responses have been inadequate and their solutions, non-existent. They say the crises of congestion they cause is the price for innovation -- I say that's a false choice." In a new letter sent to the City Attorney's Office, Ryu formally asked Los Angeles' top attorney to examine Waze's behavior. While Ryu said he supported "advances in technology," he decried Waze and its parent company, Google, for refusing "any responsibility for the traffic problems their app creates or the concerns of residents and City officials."
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LA Councilman Asks City Attorney To 'Review Possible Legal Action' Against Waze

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  • by fgouget ( 925644 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @08:53PM (#56468677)

    The solution is really simple. Mark the street as "No Thru Traffic" since that's essentially what he wants. Waze and others will update their maps accordingly. In OpenStreetMap it's just a matter of adding an "access=destination" attribute and I'm sure Waze, Google, Apple and others have similarly simple ways of representing this. They will then stop routing people through that street. The city does no even need to enforce the street sign since all they want to avoid is the excess traffic driven by the apps. Problem solved.

    But only the city (or maybe some county/state department) has the authority to make that decision so he should work on it instead of making an ass of himself and wasting everyone else's time.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2018 @09:08PM (#56468709)

      The solution is really simple. Mark the street as "No Thru Traffic" since that's essentially what he wants. Waze and others will update their maps accordingly. In OpenStreetMap it's just a matter of adding an "access=destination" attribute and I'm sure Waze, Google, Apple and others have similarly simple ways of representing this. They will then stop routing people through that street. The city does no even need to enforce the street sign since all they want to avoid is the excess traffic driven by the apps. Problem solved.

      But only the city (or maybe some county/state department) has the authority to make that decision so he should work on it instead of making an ass of himself and wasting everyone else's time.

      That doesn't let the councilman grandstand.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2018 @09:27PM (#56468767)

      Our city has signed my street with âoethrough traffic prohibitedâ and sent a letter to Waze of the change. Nothing has happened. Phone staring zombies still speeding through the neighborhood. Los Altos Hills has had some success but then Alphabet big wigs live there.

      • Our city has signed my street with âoethrough traffic prohibitedâ and sent a letter to Waze of the change. Nothing has happened. Phone staring zombies still speeding through the neighborhood. Los Altos Hills has had some success but then Alphabet big wigs live there.

        If you don't want people speeding through your street, put speed bumps there.

        Oh no, but that would slow down you too.

        • If you don't want people speeding through your street, put speed bumps there.

          Oh no, but that would slow down you too.

          Meh. I much prefer deputizing the locals to record and send in tickets of speeders There are apps for that yaknow.

      • They "sent a letter" to the company that lets the community edit the map? Gee, I wonder why that didn't work. Maybe try logging in and changing the road yourself. If you don't have high enough access, leave a message on the board.

    • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @10:39PM (#56469009)

      Mark the street as "No Thru Traffic"

      Fuck that. Streets are paid for by all taxpayers, and "rights of way" are long established. What Waze does falls under free speech. You don't want people taking a shortcut through your neighborhood, then stop with the "Waze has upended our City's traffic plans" bullshit and make it so the major roads work better than the side roads. It really is that simple.

      Or, just build out an efficient, useful, and desirable mass transit system.

      • Problem is if everyone acts selfishly it just makes the traffic worse all round. Yes, it might take you an extra 5 minutes to do the long way around that the city wants you to take, but if everyone takes the shortcut it ends up taking everyone 30 minutes more. There can be down-stream issues too, like excessive numbers of people trying to merge back onto the main route causing that to slow down too, excessive wear on local roads that are not able to handle the load, disruption to other local road users etc.

        It's the classic tragedy of the commons that government is supposed to solve.

        In this case there is a safety issue too. The road in question is extremely steep and a lot of vehicles have trouble with it, either lacking the power to go up at a reasonable speed or struggling to resist gravity on the way down.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by msauve ( 701917 )
          "but if everyone takes the shortcut it ends up taking everyone 30 minutes more. "

          Said by someone who's obviously unclear about the concept. Waze dynamically routes using the fastest path. Diverting some traffic away from a path does not make that path flow slower.
          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            If it made sense to do that then it would make sense for the city to promote it. But it doesn't make sense, because what happens is that Waze keeps sending people there until a jam forms because the road and the intersections aren't designed for that volume of traffic. And because it's an urban area the number of injuries and accidents goes up too.

            The main road might get a little faster, but at the same time the city now has less money to spend on maintaining and improving it because it has to handle all th

          • by dj245 ( 732906 )

            "but if everyone takes the shortcut it ends up taking everyone 30 minutes more. " Said by someone who's obviously unclear about the concept. Waze dynamically routes using the fastest path. Diverting some traffic away from a path does not make that path flow slower.

            It absolutely does make some routes slower. Consider a route that departs from a highway and then re-enters the highway later. The additional mergings on the onramp can cause more congestion than if everyone had simply stayed on the highway. I have seen this firsthand in Houston with some of our feeder road ramps, where it is obvious. I am sure it happens elsewhere in less obvious ways.

            Not to mention that Waze does not seem to do per-lane or even per-route data collection. This means if I am taking X

          • Is your position that Waze is able to predict that routing people via the "shortcut" will result in everyone being 30 minutes late, or is it that Waze will detect when the traffic it's diverted to the "shortcut" is now taking 30 minutes longer, and will stop routing traffic that way until it clears up?

            I doubt the former is true. That'd take some advanced knowledge of traffic behavior to a level I'm not sure is practical. So I suspect the second is actually the case, in which case yes, the Waze app will c

        • but if everyone takes the shortcut it ends up taking everyone 30 minutes more.

          That doesn't even make any sense. If the shortcut actually resulted in everyone taking 30 minutes more, then the traffic app wouldn't keep routing so many through it. It gets its best data from itself, obviously.

          It optimizes for fastest route unless you tell it otherwise.

        • by whoda ( 569082 )

          If everyone was taking the shortcut, which made that route take 30 minutes longer, Waze will tell me to stay on the main route.

          There are days why I wonder why Waze isn't directing me to an alternate route, but then I get a glimpse of that route off the highway, and I see why it didn't send me that way.

      • by cascadingstylesheet ( 140919 ) on Friday April 20, 2018 @08:17AM (#56470445)

        Mark the street as "No Thru Traffic"

        Fuck that. Streets are paid for by all taxpayers, and "rights of way" are long established. What Waze does falls under free speech. You don't want people taking a shortcut through your neighborhood, then stop with the "Waze has upended our City's traffic plans" bullshit and make it so the major roads work better than the side roads. It really is that simple.

        Dang straight. If the major roads aren't faster than the side roads then the problem is the government handling of the roads, not from some app.

      • Or, just build out an efficient, useful, and desirable mass transit system.

        Clearly the place to start with that dream is a high speed rail to nowhere rather than fixing metrolink. California thinking at it's finest.

    • by n3r0.m4dski11z ( 447312 ) on Friday April 20, 2018 @01:42AM (#56469569) Homepage Journal

      Face it, companies like google arent going to bow down to your pithy little laws. Silicon valley is all about disruption and rule breaking. Breaking society is part of the programme for tech these days (or maybe it always had that ethos by some: "Who else is going to change the world, Marty? Greenpeace?")

      Waze, airbnb, uber, etc are all about gaming regulatory systems that are set up to protect the people mostly. Having a multi room vacation housing without proper sprinklers, for instance. There are no "good" for-profit companies. You can't "do no evil" and "always make profit" at the same time. Companies side with their financial masters when push comes to shove. Tech may even be more susceptible to this than most other for-profits that, you know, actually and reliably turn an actual profit.

      For profit corporations are evil. pure and simple.

    • by ehaggis ( 879721 )
      Agreed. Mod parent up. Navigation services should be able to rely on the data provided by municipalities. If the data does not reflect reality, the data should be updated or the law driving the data should be updated.
    • I am surprised they aren't doing something like this then aggressively tax farming the traffic by issuing citations.
    • The solution is really simple. Mark the street as "No Thru Traffic" since that's essentially what he wants. Waze and others will update their maps accordingly.

      So the solution is to put up signs at every intersection and implement bogus "Not a through street" zones. Which by the way, will result in demand to force the waze users right back onto the streets they were trying to get away from.

      As well it sets up a positive feedback loop, as along the side routes used now will add the designation, and the program will route it to other side streets, so they will too. eventually your simple solution will simply break the app, as there will be no options.

      Which in tu

      • by fgouget ( 925644 )

        So the solution is to put up signs at every intersection and implement bogus "Not a through street" zones.

        The signs are not bogus if they are put up by the official traffic department. And the traffic department has no more reason to put them at every intersection than for any other sign.

        • So the solution is to put up signs at every intersection and implement bogus "Not a through street" zones.

          The signs are not bogus if they are put up by the official traffic department. And the traffic department has no more reason to put them at every intersection than for any other sign.

          So your point is that in order to keep these speeders off my street, I have to break the law to leave my house. If every street in my neighborhood was illegal to use as a street to get somewhere else, we'd all be trapped.

          Seriously, I'm more about hitting them in the wallet. We've had people driving at least 55 on the 25 mph road in front of my house. I would dearly love to use every legal means at my disposal to punish them as much as possible. Including - if we can put up this bogus no through traffic

      • by suutar ( 1860506 )

        If your start or destination is in the neighborhood then you're not "through traffic" and you can be routed there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2018 @09:17PM (#56468733)

    ... if you don't like people driving on a public road, then... well, it's a public road.

    By definition, the public can go on a public road.

    Are people speeding? Give them tickets.

    Are people not stopping at lights/stop signs? Give them tickets.

    Otherwise STFU.

    • Waze is causing accidents by ignoring the grade and routing the unwary (generally speeding) http://www.thedrive.com/news/1... [thedrive.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dcw3 ( 649211 )

        Waze is causing accidents by ignoring the grade and routing the unwary (generally speeding) http://www.thedrive.com/news/1... [thedrive.com]

        Um, no. Bad drivers are causing accidents. If they're speeding that's the driver's fault, not Waze. If they can't handle a steep grade, they can turn around. Do you do everything Waze tells you to? If so, you should throw away your license.

      • Los Angeles is a city that had a major that kept failing the bar exam. They took away lanes on Wilshire Blvd. and assigned it for buses to "improve traffic flow." They cut down lanes of roads because having two lanes of traffic is not safe for people to j-walk at night.

    • by jittles ( 1613415 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @09:49PM (#56468839)

      ... if you don't like people driving on a public road, then... well, it's a public road.

      By definition, the public can go on a public road.

      Are people speeding? Give them tickets.

      Are people not stopping at lights/stop signs? Give them tickets.

      Otherwise STFU.

      I would agree with you if people weren't selfish assholes in general. Waze routes people through my neighborhood and then they end up not realizing that the way they want to go only has one lane of access from a two lane thoroughfare. So they block traffic and make people stop unnecessarily so that they can avoid going to the next light to make their turn, or make a u-turn. So what happens? It takes me 15 minutes to drive a distance that the slowest, most geriatric person you know could walk in about 5 minutes and it's absolutely infuriating. I don't really care if they drive through my neighborhood but for the love of god, know where you are going or just accept that you can't end up where you want to be and let everyone else go by accepting the consequences of your actions.

      • by whoda ( 569082 )

        Park closer to the on-ramp. Walk 5 minutes.

        • Park closer to the on-ramp. Walk 5 minutes.

          I’d actually have to park in a neighborhood. It’s no where near an off-ramp or on-ramp to the interstate. By no where near, I mean that it is over 1.5 miles to the nearest one. Because of nearby amenities the parking in that neighborhood is generally permit only. And don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the people at all. It’s a great urban location near to a huge park, musuems, concert halls, etc. I think the people that come in to take advantage of those amenities make the

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Traffic engineers and planners design roads based on a number of factors including vehicle types, design speeds, traffic rates, services on those roads, etc. The result are roads designed to handle a certain types and rates of traffic, and classified by their function (major and minor arterials and collectors, local roads). From this the road pavement construction is often specified based on use. Same goes for road maintenance. Minor or local roads are low on the totum pole of maintenance programs as compar

  • by MDMurphy ( 208495 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @09:19PM (#56468741)

    The city could have pushed through a road reclassification. Had they done so the routing would be updated and problem solved. But this lets someone stand up to Big Bad Google, rather than actually fixing the problem.

    I'm with Waze/Google on this one. They route based on accurate and legal road information. Once they start tweaking it things will break. The city can change the road signage to match what they want for traffic and map routing ( not just Waze, but any app based on the actual road network ) will change to match.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Is there some classification that states something like "local through traffic only"? I don't know how you handle road classifications in the states, or if Waze can deal with non-standard signage etc.

      I think you have the right idea, I'm just wondering if there is some practical reason why it can't be implemented.

      • How do you define local?

        Do you have to live in that zipcode, that neighborhood, or just in the city? If the city, I don't think many cities would be helped (some sure - like New York/New Jersey).

        If you need to live in the zip code or neighborhood then how does waze enforce it? Do they need to require proof of residence to use their app or to be able to use certain routes?

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Well, quite. I don't think it's that easy to solve.

        • by suutar ( 1860506 )

          remember, there's a difference between "through" and "into/out of" and it's not honestly that difficult to tell whether your destination is on the "no through traffic" road or not.

  • Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neoRUR ( 674398 ) on Thursday April 19, 2018 @09:29PM (#56468785)

    Its because the traffic planning is so bad that they use these apps. I know quite a few bottle necks that if they fixed in LA would clean up a lot of traffic.

    • Yup. Typical government knee-jerk reaction.

      Blame the symptom instead of fixing the problem.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Well, another person who has no idea how traffic works. Adding more roads to traffic can make it worse. Solving those crossings might bring other problems to the table that are worse than what you have now.

      The difference between the app and traffic planning is that the app looks at 1 person. Traffic planning looks at 1.000.000 and they all interact with each other.

      If you arrive 10 minutes earlier because of Waze, the rest might be 1 second later each. That is still a loss for traffic planning as a whole.

    • Its because the traffic planning is so bad that they use these apps.

      Traffic planning may be bad, but that's not why in general people use these apps. They serve many purposes including getting to somewhere you don't know, informing you of unforeseen problems along your route and routing around them, redirecting you if you need to take a detour etc.

  • If Waze is sending traffic down a residential street, have that street rezoned to commercial. It would raise the value of the land, bring in more tax revenue, bring in jobs, and bring people closer to places they need to go.

    Traffic isn't good for residential areas but businesses love it!

  • Driving Manhattan Beach to Santa Monica, I tried many many different routes to avoid the 405. Turns out, none of them were significantly faster. 45 to 75 minutes guaranteed. All Waze and Google maps did was direct me along obnoxious circuitous routes that got me stuck at too many stop signs. Of course, it took me nearly 3 months of trying to reach that conclusion: statistically tracking peak traffic times, determining when traffic was worst on which streets. So imagine if every driver was trying this,
  • 48 Hours without Google Maps or Waze for the LA Metro area....

  • So, instead of addressing the problem they combat a solution. Classic politics.
    • That's what I was thinking as well. The traffic is bad and rather than working on that problem, let's go after an app that takes maximum advantage of the infrastructure already built out? It's a classic diversionary tactic.

  • These types of absurd lawsuits need to be shot down immediately. Companies should not be liable for results of calculations, no matter what that calculation is or how offensive it may be.

  • If the main routes are so dang slow, that's your fault, city, not an app's fault.

    Don't want to put speed bumps in the fancy neighborhoods? Then build more or wider main roads.

  • I'm curious.

    Just what part of the CA legal code could Waze POSSIBLY have broken? Surely it's not illegal to tell someone "take an alternate route because there's a wreck on the freeway"???

  • How is Waze any different than a GPS that handles traffic re-routing, like my TomTom, or Garmin or any other GPS?
  • How does he know the drivers are using Waze? I was taking shortcuts through neighborhoods a decade before there were any commercial navigation products.

I've got a bad feeling about this.

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