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Flooded With Navigation App Users, a Town Closes Its Streets

Navigation apps like Waze often reroute drivers onto residential streets that would be quiet otherwise. With some residents unable to leave their driveways, the New Jersey borough of Leonia has taken an extreme measure against the problem.
January 5, 2018, 8am PST | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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It's a case of algorithms versus angry residents. Lisa W. Foderaro writes, "With services like Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps suggesting shortcuts for commuters through the narrow, hilly streets of Leonia, N.J., the borough has decided to fight back against congestion that its leaders say has reached crisis proportions."

The battle plan is simple: keep all of the out-of-towners out. "In mid-January, the borough's police force will close 60 streets to all drivers aside from residents and people employed in the borough during the morning and afternoon rush periods, effectively taking most of the town out of circulation for the popular traffic apps — and for everyone else, for that matter."

Borough officials claim this is legal, but it may invite challenge. "Some traffic engineers and elected officials elsewhere say the move may set a precedent that could encourage towns to summarily restrict public access to outsiders."

Meanwhile, many Leonia residents are happy they won't have to convince an endless stream of motorists to let them leave their driveways in the morning.

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Published on Sunday, December 24, 2017 in The New York Times
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