Google-Owned Waze App Blamed for Ruining London’s “People-Friendly Streets”

Waze data for Islington 1 photo
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Google’s own Waze navigation app has come in the crosshair of Richard Watts, the Council Leader of Islington London Borough Council, who claims that all their efforts to create what he describes as “people-friendly streets” are ruined by mobile software directing drivers on alternative routes.
The council, whose project involves a series of traffic measures like banned turns and traffic monitoring cameras, warns that the bigger the number of cars that make their way to quiet streets, the bigger the pollution and the more people’s lives are affected.

Every time we introduce a quiet area to make it easier for walking and cycling or any other non-form of car usage, it instantly gets chock full of cars because the Waze app directs people towards those streets,” Watts was quoted as saying by the Islington Gazette.

Waze relies on user reports to determine the fastest route to a specific destination and uses information like the levels of traffic, accidents, roads in construction, and other factors that could increase the ETA to determine alternative routes. Cars are often directed to smaller streets in order to avoid traffic jams and reach their destination faster.

And this is exactly the problem that Waze is causing, Watts explains.

Less than a third of households own a car and yet our streets are dominated by cars, and what is underpinning all that is big changes in technology and people are now using apps like Waze to cut through side streets, so that side streets are getting chockablock,” he said.

Introducing people-friendly streets is the solution that local authorities have eventually embraced, as they warn that more people give up on public transportation and turn to their personal cars in an attempt to keep social distancing.

But on the other hand, this does nothing more than fuel the air quality issue in the region, they say, so keeping the area as quiet as possible is only possible by dealing with the always increasing traffic levels, something that Waze also contributes to.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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