In the wake of complaints about Waze and similar smartphone traffic apps routing through the smaller streets of Los Angeles, one city councilman has decided to dig in and figure out what he can do about it.
Paul Krekorian recently contacted columnist Steve Lopez after Lopez described earlier this month how some apps (notably, Waze) route Angeleno drivers over Baxter Street, which features a 32-percent grade street that dates back to the 19th century.
Numerous apps’ traffic algorithms seem to not take into account that Baxter’s unusual configuration, according to local residents, may result in more auto accidents.
On Tuesday, Councilman Krekorian filed a formal motion that addresses the city as a whole, not just Baxter:
I THEREFORE MOVE that the Council INSTRUCT the Department of Transportation to report with answers to the following questions:
1. What City data is made available to makers of mapping apps or software?
2. What data does the City receive from mapping-app makers?
3. What benefits, if any, does the City receive from its previously announced partnership with these companies?
4. What efforts has the City made to engage mapping-app makers to address neighborhood concerns, and what has been the response from that engagement?
In a brief phone interview with Ars, Krekorian said that, while he and his constituents use such apps, he was concerned.
“It’s a question of striking the balance between minimal increased efficiency versus the adverse impact that that causes,” he said.
According to Krekorian, no one from Waze or its parent company, Google, has been willing to meet with his office in the two years since he first raised the issue.
“[Google has] not demonstrated any willingness to engage,” he said. “It goes to heart of problems—that’s not [the] good corporate citizenship I expect.”
Last week, Google simply sent Ars (and Lopez) a statement indicating that, if the city wishes to restrict Baxter Street, the app would be updated accordingly.
Genevieve Park, a Google spokeswoman, did not respond to Ars’ questions—submitted more than once—as to why Waze could not simply make the adjustment (at least as far as Baxter is concerned) of its own volition.