Quite A Waze To Go

I admit it: I use Waze not only to get me from here to an unfamiliar place, but to bypass traffic whenever my route gets jammed.

You do too.

So do tons of other drivers. Even when there’s no major accident.

Which led alert — and frustrated — “06880” reader Jessica Newshel to send this photo:

(Photo/Jessica Newshel)

It shows Park Lane at 8:45 this morning. For the few who don’t know, it’s the narrow, winding side road that — unfortunately for residents — connects Post Road East with South Compo Road.

It’s been a shortcut for Westporters for decades. Now — thanks to Waze and similar apps — the whole world knows it.

And uses it, every day.

Jessica writes:

I’m used to people using my street to bypass traffic on Post Road, but this morning reached new levels. Apps are sending cars through local streets that can’t handle the volume. I know Park Lane isn’t the only one, but it’s getting worse each day. The town needs to address what’s happening.

Can the town do anything? If so, what? And even if it could — should it? Click “Comments” below.

Just for fun, tell us how often you use shortcuts like this.

And how often you use Waze.

49 responses to “Quite A Waze To Go

  1. I use Park Lane often. Also, Waze anytime leaving town.

  2. Stephanie Mastrocciolo

    I use waze all the time- almost every time! I Never thought about the effect on smaller streets that can’t handle the volume of traffic. This will make me think twice-

  3. I walk my dog on South Compo to get to and back home from the dog park. Many mornings we stan and wait for five minutes until some one will motion for us to cross the street. It is even worse than Thomas Road. Which is another death zone for dog walking !

    • You need not wait for someone to motion to you to cross if you are at a cross walk or intersection… Just place your feet in the cross walk. In connecticut the cars have to yield to you once you are in the cross walk. You shouldn’t have to wait more than a few seconds. Good luck!

  4. I sometimes use Waze when I become exasperated sitting in bumper to bumper Merritt Parkway traffic returning back to Westport from the Bronx. Waze takes me on beautiful back country roads in towns like Greenwich, that I would not know of otherwise. The same happens when Waze directs cars off i-95 and the Merritt Parkway in Westport.

    Waze was purchased and expanded by Google in 2013, only four years ago. That’s why the traffic appears to all of us a new phenomenon. 65 million people actively use Waze across 185 countries.

    While we all appreciate using it when we travel since it saves us time, it creates traffic on our own secondary and tertiary roads. It becomes even more challenging for municipalities to grapple with.

    For example, imagine if we somehow widened the Cribari Bridge while retaining the height restrictions. The increased speed and flow would automatically feed into Waze and direct more traffic to it off of i-95. Imagine if we put a no left turn sign at the corner of Greens Farms Road and the Sherwood Island Connector coming off of i-95. Waze would direct traffic to turn right on Nyala Farms Road or certainly left on Post Road.

    The only solution to fight Waze’s technology is with technology, and would probably be illegal. In 2014 a group of students “faked” traffic on roads using technology to prevent Wazers from being directed to those roads. There are candidates running for local office who claim they can solve this problem – I hope they share their ideas with us so we can work together to reduce this type of congestion.

    • Waze and other apps take people off I-95 because it’s quicker. The trick to keeping cars in I-85 and off local roads is to make it quicker for them to stay on I-95. A no left turn from the Sherwood Island Connector to Greens Farms Road during the morning rush hours, coupled with a no right turn on Nyala Farms from the Connectir would not inconvenience any Westporters and would increase the time it takes to cut through town on local streets, making it less attractive for Waze and other apps to detour people through town. Couple this with a few stop signs on Greens Farms Riad between the Post Riad and the Connectir, and a longer red light from the Connector to the Post Road and its even less attractive to leave I-95. There is no perfect solution–we have 10 pounds if traffic in five pounds of Road–but every little bit helps

  5. John F. Suggs

    Avi makes an excellent point about why we need to keep the Cribari Bridge “as is” and not widen it. The height and size restrictions serve to keep 18 Wheelers off of it. I like to say “We preserve the Cribari Bridge because it preserves us.” And it does. For some additional thoughts about common sense solutions regarding Westport traffic I would refer you to my campaign position paper on the subject. https://suggs.org/common-sense-solutionscommon-sense-solutions-traffic/ And I would note that the “no turn on red” suggestion in this piece has subsequently been adopted by the Administration.

    • John – thank you for your helpful suggestions. Our town prides itself on working well together in a non-partisan manner, to solve issues and improve our quality of life.

  6. Dan Lasley (Laz)

    I have seen this too with standard Goggle Maps (not Waze). An interesting way to explore new neighborhoods, but I can see the downside. Perhaps an option to prefer major arteries when seeking alternates would be good. Just as now you can indicate your preference to avoid toll roads.

  7. Charlie Haberstroh

    A possible solution which also has negative repercussions for residents and locals is to put speed bumps on selected highly selected pass though roads. I’m not sure WAZE technology would recognize them, but residents and local users would.

    • Jessica Newshel

      There are speed bumps on Park Lane already. It doesn’t help as cars fly over them.

      • Charlie Haberstroh

        Sorry I did not realize that. Perhaps they need to be higher :)?

      • Believe me, those speed bumps made a big difference when they were originally installed. It’s only in the past couple of years that the speeding has gotten so much worse. I wouldn’t remove them. The taxi traffic is still much less than it was 20 years ago.

  8. I do use waze, but not in my own hometown. This brings up a truly complicated and difficult new spin on infrastructure.

  9. David J. Loffredo

    Isn’t there a massive multi-year I-95 repaving exercise about to start in Westport? You think there’s traffic on the side streets now?

  10. Bonnie Bradley

    How about… If you build it they will come. Or, every silver lining has a cloud?

  11. Ellen Greenberg

    I grew up in Lincoln Massachusetts which is at the intersection of Interstate 95/128 and Rte 2. It became a huge cut through for commuters. Eventually traffic was so bad that they made several of the worst streets one way. It alleviated some of the traffic but left some home owners on one way streets that only went out of town and required a 10-15 minute detour to get back into town and visa versa. Not good for their house valuations. There is no easy answer. Our streets were never designed for the local and overflow highway traffic they receive. Current buildings would make improvements hugely expensive and tie up traffic even worse during construction. As Avi pointed out, if we ease our traffic problems Waze/Google Maps will just send more cars our way.

  12. We have a similar issue with additional traffic being directed through Kings Highway North, including trucks, when it is a no through truck street. The apps exacerbate the issue.

  13. Elisabeth Keane

    The traffic on Park Lane has become impossible, not only because folks cannot enter or leave their driveways but also because it has become unsafe to walk in one’s own neighborhood. It is terrible. Even depositing or retrieving mail has become a frequent challenge. How would an emergency vehicle get through? This is a narrow, hilly, winding road with blind curves, no sidewalks, a low speed limit and yes, it has had speed bumps for a long time. With the road clogged by interlopers, it might be entertaining when the road is icy and they try to negotiate the steep hill.

  14. William Strittmatter

    I used to go take Greens Farms/Bridge to South Compo or Imperial to cut through town to take King’s Highway Bridge to Rt 33 in the mornings but traffic these days is so backed up there due to the Cribari Bridge bottleneck that I generally shift to Park Lane to cut through.

    Usually not a bad route – even with the speed bumps, at least you are moving. I did get caught in the back up this morning and was wondering what happened. At first I thought I had just gotten unlucky and got caught behind a school bus but I guess not.

    Can’t imagine things are going to get much better until/unless the various bottlenecks across the Saugatuck are relieved. Just not enough, or wide enough crossings. Since there is little appetite for that, the occasional Park Lane (among other) back ups are going to happen.

  15. That looks truly awful. Had there been a discussion to try and make Park Lane a private road?

    • Originally Park lane was a dead end road. It entered at Compo but ended before Rayfield. I petitioned for a change way back when I arranged for the speed bumps to be installed. No way was that going to happen. After all, Park lane is a key cut through! I would support any effort to revisit Park Lane traffic control. In addition to those who walk dogs, there are lots of young children on our street. They ride bikes and play near the road. It is a very dangerous street at this point.

  16. Bart Shuldman

    CT is in dire need for better transportation but the state is broke and nothing will be done. Just wait for the new mall to be built in Norwalk. And backup in 95 and Westport suffers.

    This all comes back to leadership. Governor Malloy will do nothing to reform the crippling state worker benefits that include their pension and medical plans. The quickly rising costs are crowding out money for transportation. Just the truth.

    Now think about the vote by Melissa Kane on the RTIM NOT TO APPROVE the new police pension plan.

    It’s all about leadership. Complain all you want but not in will change unless leaders are elected that want to “bend the cost curve”.

  17. Park Lane & Spicer Rd are continuations of each other. SUPER busy cut thru roads for residents and non-residents alike. Many families with small children live along that road and it’s amazing how fast people drive and how often I see people drive thru, or effectively tap the brake but not stop, at the Spicer/Park/Rayfield Rd intersection behind the Volvo dealership. it’s also a windy road of sorts with little visibility. Unfortunately, not a great path for high traffic moving too fast. Inevitable that a bad accident or child getting hit regardless of Waze wil occur. Remember, your favorite shortcut is someone’s neighborhood. DRIVE SLOW AND SAFELY. Your latte can wait another minute or two!

    • Thank you. I forgot about the stop sign. People fly through that sign. There’s a bus stop right there. Yes something bad is waiting to happen soon. I’m petrified of the road. In the past year it has gotten exponentially worse. The speeding is outrageous. A good speed trap by police might curb the kids from using the road as a breezeway. And at rush hour I’d love to watch a few beautiful BMWs getting pulled over.

  18. I don’t leave the house without turning on Waze since last year when I had to get to the library for a 9am meeting and the 7min. drive took 45min. Yes 45min. to drive 2.8mi. The anecdote to this is I walk the dogs 3.4mi every day and on a good day I can do it in 45min. OK enough kevetching; what needs to happen is to make 95 a double-decker highway north on top south on the bottom (the bottom being underground if needed). Leave the Meritt for Sunday drivers, after all that’s what it was built for. Then we need to embrace electric autonomous vehicles for our safety and productivity. Yes, I said safety, the sooner we get that right the fewer people die on the roads…drunks included. Imagine when you need to go somewhere you tell your phone; a car shows up and you prep for your meeting on the way there. You won’t need to buy a car, you won’t need insurance, you won’t be stopping for gas, the car services itself. Why to you think Lyft and Uber are worth so much the only step left is to fire the drivers. (The Chinese passed us up with cheap solar production because they have a plan…read about it, All vehicles will be electric and autonomous).Imagine how much time and money you will save and stay safe. So you say that’s the future, not today….we have the ability we have the technology…they are even testing cars in Manhattan as we speak. the only problem is as humans we want everything to get better but we don’t want anything to change, we are the problem. The Digital Divide has changed the world and we don’t know it…just the millennials do. Invest in AI and I don’t just mean your money. The future has already passed you by, the future is NOW and moving at Warp speed. Mr. Spock tried to tell you.LOL, If you got this far thanks for reading my rant, hope you enjoyed yourself as much as I did.:)

  19. Dick Lowenstein

    Not for publication here, but I have an idea to out wit Waze. I’ve mentioned it at the BOS meeting on August 23, when Greens Farms Road traffic was an agenda item. And also at a Greens Farms Association board meeting. Inquiries invited

  20. Shelly and Len Sherman

    There’s lot of discussion here about Park Lane — but that’s only one of several routes that Waze is targeting to reroute traffic from high capacity/high traffic roads to smaller streets never designed or intended for high traffic loads. For example, we live east of the Cribari Bridge near Greens Farm Road, and experience tremendous backups during most rush hour periods as Waze reroutes I95 traffic off Exit 18 through our neighborhood and over a bridge designed in the 1800’s for horse and buggy riders, not high density car and truck traffic!

    Our residential streets are used by children, pets and bicyclists and were never engineered or designed for high density traffic. At the end of the day, this conflict involves the rights between two distinct groups with very different objectives. Motorists, including many who don’t live in Westport who believe they have the right to seek the fastest commute route on any available street. And Westport residents who have a legitimate claim to live in a residential neighborhood that is safe, quiet and relatively free from traffic. Many of us moved to this community for just those values.

    As of now, the presumed legal principle is that motorists’ rights trump residents’ rights. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Why does Waze get to decide who drives where with no regard for their negative impact on others?!

    I would like to see our First Selectman candidates weigh in on this issue with urgency. One thing is for sure. Speed bumps are NOT the answer, as that would only make matters worse for EVERYONE.

    • Having grown up in the area, I have seen all the quiet streets become high speed through-ways. And while I feel your pain on Greens Farms Road, the Peter’s Bridge back-up pre-dates Waze by years.

      I-95 has been steadily increasing congestion for years without Waze. Now, at any time, day or night it’s a crap-shoot on the traffic. The roads seems to be 5x more crowded but the local populations haven’t soared commensurately,

      I suppose the commuter flow into more office buildings in the area are the culprit because it brings in more people from further afield, without increasing the local population. Probably also the fact that fewer locals seem to work locally in shops and schools than in the past adds to the number of commuters by car. – Chris Woods

  21. The solution is simply. Put in a toll. The old fashion kind with a gate that goes up/down. This would slow things down, feed into Waze’s algorithm AND generate money for the town. Win-win.

  22. They are called “public roads” for a reason. I’ve been driving this area for 25+ years and in the last year waze has taught me some really creative ways around 95 and the Merritt, but it also knows when not to get off, when to sit it out. We don’t get to shoot down all public infrastructure spending, base our economy on selling ever more things(cars included), neglect local public transportation AND complain when traffic increases on roads we think are our own or have some character.

    We should of course fix the pedestrian crossing problem and traffic flow problems with more traffic lights, crossings (with lights), etc.

  23. Regarding i95, I am confused why the huge shoulders have not been made into an additional lane or express lane. Somehow other states have done it years ago on their main roads, yet CT is reluctant. I wonder why?

  24. Elizabeth Marks

    I lived on Park Lane for many years and being located on the curve, we had many cars take the road too fast and end half way up the lawn. As Jessica and Elizabeth pointed out, Park has speed bumps (high too) is narrow and hillly which is an issue without traffic. I’m not sure what the solutions are to deter app users from side roads such as this but something must be done before we have accidents and not just annoyances.

    • Elisabeth Keane

      They ended up on your lawn or on/in/atop the stone wall where the Youngs lived for many years. We’d hear the nearby unmistakable thud of metal meeting stones at all hours.

  25. Apparently there are more people commuting in to Westport than from it. Post Road intersection Riverside/Wilton Road is another, of many, nightmares at rush hour traffic.
    Existing homes are being torn down and replaced with enormous ones, even on lots that are too small. Large homes=more cars and our infrastructure cannot handle it. What about building permits being considered beyond lot size?
    I am grateful this was brought up as I didn’t’ realize the impact of the families living on Park. I occasionally take it myself and promise not to do it in the future. Maybe we should all be a little more considerate. Children live on those streets…and many of us are too much in a hurry…if we weren’t we would not take those ‘shortcuts’ in the first place.

  26. I’ve lived in Park Lane for over 25 years. The traffic in the past month has become increasingly intense. Bumper to bumper traffic is not at all uncommon of late. In years prior to now I’d never seen this kind of traffic on our street. I’m guessi a lot more people are using Waze.

  27. Waze is not the biggest issue for Park Lane. We have lived here for 24 years. When my children were young I couldn’t walk down the road with them in a stroller without feeling like I was going to get run down by a taxi or other speeding cut through driver. I personally spent hours and hours of my time arranging for the speed bumps to be installed. Initially they made a very big difference in the traffic situation on Park Lane. But over the years, as cars have grown, so has their ability to fly over the speed bumps. So now we have the same cut through traffic flying down the road. It’s worse when 95 is backed up, but the speeding and reckless driving are consistent day in and day out. Don’t get me wrong, the speed bumps help. And I have heard that when repaving happens they will not be replaced.
    I walk my dogs on our street. I have had people make foul gestures at me when I pull (drag)my dogs onto the grass to keep from being run down. I have watched teenagers fly past me with their windows down and cell phones in hand. I am at the point now where it is becoming clear that our neighborhood road is just not a place to be.
    Park Lane specifically needs more speed control and deterrents to the reckless cut through traffic. I always know when a train has arrived at the westport station. That’s when the guys in their fancy sports cars come flying through, giving me looks of disgust and worse as they come as close to the side of the road as possible. And after school moms in their gigantic suvs are regulars after 3.
    I’m amazed that most people don’t even tap their brakes when going past me when I’m walking and give me dirty looks because I’m there. We also have kids riding bikes and playing in driveways. It would be nice if people in cars and suvs would step back and think twice about the danger they pose when they are driving recklessly. Someone is going to do something very regrettable and then it will be too late. Ok I’m done.

  28. We need a comprehensive look at traffic patterns in Westport to address this issue. Not individualized “knee jerk” and incremental proposals that result in a nightmare for another neighborhood. As individuals we have our favorites (a stop sign at street X, restricted hours for certain turns, etc.) that more than likely have a ripple effect on other areas. We won’t solve the macro issues here of increasing density, growth, and the commensurate traffic increase. But we can and should take carefully tailored, well studied steps to mitigate some of the issues listed above. The Greens Farms Association is in favor of a more comprehensive approach to the problem.

    Art Schoeller
    Greens Farms Association

  29. The most obvious approach to improving traffic would be to start enforcing speed, stop and cell-phone use. I bet it would reduce the speed and increase the courtesy significantly. – Chris Woods

  30. A year or too ago we were in the Santa Rosa area (yes where the fires were) and the paper (if think it was the Chronicle) had a story and traffic being routed through quiet neighborhoods. But the neighbors were “hacking” Waze by putting fake traffic issues so waze would create an alternative route not in those neighborhoods.

    • Dick Lowenstein

      That’s my idea for outwitting Waze. Can it work? Here’s one instance:

      In March 2014, a successful attempt was made by students from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology to fake a traffic jam.

  31. Jessica Newshel

    I’m so glad my post inspired this constructive conversation. Unfortunately, traffic on Park Lane, and other local roads, is the worst I’ve ever seen this am due to a rush hour accident on 95.

  32. From today’s NY Times: https://nyti.ms/2DFAfOy
    LEONIA, N.J. — It is bumper to bumper as far as the eye can see, the kind of soul-sucking traffic jam that afflicts highways the way bad food afflicts rest stops.

    Suddenly, a path to hope presents itself: An alternate route, your smartphone suggests, can save time. Next thing you know, you’re headed down an exit ramp, blithely following directions into the residential streets of some unsuspecting town, along with a slew of other frustrated motorists.

    Scenes like this are playing out across the country, not just in traffic-choked regions of the Northeast. But one town has had enough.

    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.