Residential streets should be blocked off to prevent smart apps turning sleepy roads into polluted rat runs, campaigners have said.
People living in the quiet areas between main roads are being increasingly plagued with jams and accidents because software like Waze, or Apple Maps which direct motorists into back streets to avoid traffic.
Already some areas of London have begun trialling ‘Mini-Holland’ schemes, in which roads are blocked off with bollards so that they can only be accessed by motorists who live there.
Caroline Russell, Transport Spokesman for the Green Party and member of the London Assembly, said she had received scores of complaints from residents whose streets were inundated with drivers who had been diverted by apps, sat navs and smartphones.
“We have a huge congestion problem, and apps which provide a cut through, simply move that problem into areas where people are living,” she said.
“It might be good for a few drivers, but it is much less healthy for the residents in those streets. A lot of these streets have so much parking you can’t even get two cars down, so you get jams, and a build up of pollution.
“Mini-Holland schemes have completely transformed neighbourhoods. Cars can no longer get in anymore. Those areas which were bumper to bumper now feel upbeat and positive.
“People now enjoy walking or riding their bike, so not only has it cut pollution but it’s a nudge in the right direction towards a healthier lifestyle.”
Free GPS-based map app Waze encourages users to report traffic jams, accidents, police checks, blocked roads and weather conditions so that it can calculate a faster route.
Jenny Bates, air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth said:“Many places are blighted by traffic, and it is a terrific oversight if we allow technology to make the problem even worse.
“The fact is that we need to reduce traffic levels, and introduce measures that will get to the root cause of congestion problems, rather than finding ways – quite literally in the case of apps – around it.
“Local neighbourhoods would benefit from being 20mph zones by default, and new communities can be designed car free because key amenities and work opportunities should be within easy walking and cycling distance, using public transport for longer journeys. These are the proven ways of fixing deadly air pollution.”