Get the Waze out of here! Echo Park residents blame apps for sending traffic to steep streets


The Baxter Jam during a recent Dodger home game

ECHO PARK — For those who don’t mind driving on some of the neighborhood’s steepest hills, Baxter Street has been a handy east-west route to get to Glendale Boulevard and the 2 Freeway. It was a shortcut long known mostly to locals. But now the secret out, leaving stretches of narrow, hilly Baxter congested with traffic during evening rush hour. “To see a line of cars on both sides of the street – it’s unbelievable,” said Cesar Blanco, who has lived in the 2000 block of Baxter for nearly 20 years.

Many neighbors blame Waze, Google Maps and similar apps for routing motorists off traffic-choked Glendale Boulevard and into a quiet residential area. Congestion, which is worse on Dodger game days, began to grow noticeably eight to 12 months ago, say residents.

Alyson Sullivan, who lives around the corner on Lake Shore Avenue near Baxter, said the apps fail to tell motorists they are heading for a street so steep it has induced panic attacks among drivers. She has seen car tires smoke as they spin furiously to gain traction. One bus actually shifted into reverse midway up the hill, with traffic circling around the vehicle. “This is where it’s actually dangerous,” Sullivan said.

Carlo Lopez watched as a line of vehicles drove past his Lake Shore home before turning left and heading up Baxter. He assumes these are Waze drivers who are seeking relief from the traffic on northbound Glendale Boulevard. “When we sit in the living room and watch TV, you can watch the flow of traffic” outside, he said.

Lopez, who has lived on Lake Shore for about 17 years, said a no left-turn sign at Lake Shore and Baxter might convince motorists to steer clear of the area. He said he complained to the city about the traffic and received an email from a Department of Transportation employee saying they were looking into the matter. That was about a year ago and the Baxter Jam continues.

Screenshot 2015-12-10 at 3.10.51 PM

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  1. I hate this problem, but it’s not waze’s fault the city failed to update their transportation infrastructure at the same rate its population grew. Also, Baxter usually seems much worse before/after dodger games than during rush hour as it’s full of first time Baxter drivers who cause dangerous situations and drive too slow / too fast.

  2. You know what would solve this entire problem? DEMOLISH ALL OF THE 2 SOUTH OF THE 5.

    It might sound like a crazy idea, but it would eliminate what is currently a mile long freeway onramp from the middle of our neighborhood. And the land could be used for parks and housing!

    Everyone using our neighborhood as a shortcut to downtown can take the 5 or get on Metrolink.

  3. Have lived off of Landa for 7-8 years now and traffic has never been worse on this street that’s barely wide enough for one car. The prominence of Waze and Uber means that you’re frequently having to back down the street hundreds of feet to accommodate people who can’t figure out how to navigate the car ballet. I’ve started taking “long cuts” to avoid driving on my own street.

    • Uphill facing drivers have the right of way. Stand your ground and make them back up the hill.

      • Too bad everyone who drives in the hills doesn’t know this. It would make driving much easier. Standing your ground? It’s pretty easy to see who will quickly back up and who won’t. Doing this to the latter could get you shot! For those who play the game right, a wave and a smile goes a long way!

      • That top stretch of Echo Park Ave looks great on paper until you’ve got 4 cars riding each other and another comes along from the other direction. Standing your ground only goes so far when 4 oblivious drivers have to coordinate backing up.

      • There should be signs about uphill drivers having the right of way. And warning about the blinding sun just as you get to the top of the hill at certain times of day.

    • I use Landa to get to and from my place also, I’m on a motorcycle and have taken to giving a short beep on my horn before going around the blind curves because of all the freaked out drivers going too fast coming up the hill.

      By the way, motorcycles can’t back up uphill, we don’t have reverse.

  4. Oh boo hoo ! Car people are almost as annoying as the bike people. Cars cars cars cars cars shut up

  5. Is there a way to report a bad street, or a dangerous condition to waze and google maps? Maybe if enough people report the same problem, the software will automatically adjust and direct drivers in toward alternative route….

    • This is a great idea. I’m gonna pretend to be a Waze user and say that I’m going to sue for damage to my brakes!

    • That’s actually not a bad idea. If you have Waze, you can report the street is “under construction” or blocked and it will start redirecting people almost immediately. It shows up as a barricade on the map. It needs multiple people to support the report because others can “thumbs down” to refute the claim. Might work.

  6. If the city puts up one more freaking no left turn sign in this are how will anyone be able to get anywhere when we’re only allowed to make right hand turns?! Ban Waze!

  7. This is happening everywhere not just on your street! I’ve lived in the same house for almost 20 years and it wasn’t until recently that even trying to turn onto my street has become a 15min wait in traffic. I just think there’s too many motorists.

  8. Baxter isn’t wide enough to support street parking on both sides. The problem, as always, is too many cars — not aps.

  9. I’ve witnessed this HUGE increase in traffic on Baxter. It’s INSANE! Seems to me that one “single occupancy” vehicle driver is pointing the finger at the other “single occupancy” driver. People lament, “too many cars”, not realizing its really “too many drivers”. If ‘everyone’ carpooled or took an alternate transport 1x a week there would be 20% less cars on the road. If folks carpooled 2x a week there would be 40% less cars on the road!!!

  10. I am so happy that I do not live or travel anywhere near all these crazy people who blame everyone and everything but themselves. If you do not live in the area but use Baxter as your traffic escape route, shame on you! There are actually much shorter routes that have yet been discovered by the navigation apps.

  11. Look, I lived on Benton Way for 13 years, until moving a couple of blocks away (blessed quiet street!) this last spring, and I personally witnessed the change in that street from average traffic (with a few drunks who would hit the speed humps while going too fast, flipping over their cars) to insane 2 fwy/101 fwy shortcut. The non-locals blow through the stop signs, without even attempting the classic ‘California Stop’, while attempting to keep up their speed while approaching traffic is doing the same. It’s dangerous as all hell. Is it the fault of the nav apps? Well, sure, they’re pointing drivers to alternate, less-trafficked streets – but what else should they do? The city hasn’t done much to alleviate the crush of cars, and most residents just want to get to their job and go home at the end of the day with a minimum of insane traffic. If we had the same public transportation lines that we did in the early 20th century, we’d have a *lot* fewer people in cars. But we dismantled that service, then tried to redo it in a modern, dense city – which doesn’t work very well. I’d love to take the subway to and fro, but there’s no station near me, and I don’t want to take two or three buses to get to one. I’ve lived near NYC and in London, so I know how a real urban transportation system should work – one which is used by all types of people, rich and poor alike. I’m not confident that LA will ever get there. In the meantime, it’s up to City Hall to listen to the people who have had their formerly safe neighborhoods overrun by commuters, and come up with tiered solutions for easing traffic on residential streets. Good luck.

    • Why does it always have to be “either/or”? People can take alternate “public” transport once or twice a week! YES, IT TAKES LONGER. so what? You can text with impunitiy. Also, people who drive have the option of driving to a place where they can catch a direct bus line to their destination… which still amounts to less cars on the road. Or, uber to the subway. If you do any of these things one time a week or more… you are reducing emissions and cars on the road! IT’S NOT EITHER/OR, FOLKS!

      • For some of us, it is. Sorry, but I’ve lived in places with real public transportation that I happily take. Ours is a really poor substitute that just doesn’t run where many of us need to go. And not everyone has that kind of extra time. By the way, I do use Uber, frequently, but between that cost and the subway cost (which runs nowhere that I want to go), and it gets pricey. Many of us also have very long hours at work, and aren’t about to take two to four buses, unless we really can’t afford a car. This is how people live. It’s up to the city and state to improve the public transportation options so that the system returns to one which everyone can use (as it used to be in the early part of the 20th century). And you’ll never convince people of the merits of your argument if you’re YELLING AT THEM.

  12. i live right near here and in the last 6 months noticed a massive uptick in more cars, frightened drivers not being able to go over Baxter and stopping at the top or halfway up and trying to back down, and angry motorists racing up the block honking and flashing their lights if you are getting out of your parked car to get out of the way. in the last 2 months I’ve had my driver’s side mirror knocked off twice. even after I got into the habit of pushing my mirror in, it just makes people think they have more room so they somehow knocked my folded mirror off and scraped the front and side of my car. anyone have any ideas where we can file formal complaints that would be the most effective ?

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