The War on Waze

From coast to coast, prickly local residents are up in arms about commuters clogging their once-quiet neighborhood streets with bumper-to-bumper traffic, all to shave a few minutes off their daily commute.


This white-hot rage has largely fallen on Waze, a navigation app that alerts motorists to alternative routes on residential roads, away from the clogged and congested highways. The media have been quick to play up this angle. “Navigation Apps Are Turning Quiet Neighborhoods Into Traffic Nightmares,” cried one New York Times headline from last year. “Waze, please stop ruining Los Angeles,” implored GQ in 2016. Similar stories have popped up in USA Today, CityLab, and countless local papers.

Capitalizing on this resentment are local politicians, who are happy to shift the blame for traffic congestion onto Waze’s shoulders and are now experimenting with strategies for blunting the app’s effectiveness and punishing its users.

The epicenter of this fight is the nightmarishly congested Los Angeles, where the city government is mulling a lawsuit against Waze.


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