Waze has turned the nearly undriveable, fifth-steepest hill in America into a disaster-strewn major thoroughfare

Baxter Street in Echo Park, East Los Angeles, is the fifth-steepest hill in America; it's so steep that inexperienced drivers struggle with it, spinning out and crashing, especially in the rain.

Luckily, it's not a main road and so the people who've used it for most of its 130+ year history have been locals who've developed the necessary specialized knowledge to traverse it.

But now Baxter Street has become something of a thoroughfare, with disastrous consequences as inexperienced drivers — directed to shortcut through Baxter when the main roads are busy, especially when a rare LA rainstorm clogs traffic and turns Baxter's hills into a nearly impassable obstacle — are steered onto it by their navigation apps.

We have a good friend who lives off of Baxter Street and we drive it several times a year on our way to dinner parties at his house, and it's a serious white-knuckler. Check out the Youtube subgenre of wheeled conveyances braving its slopes.

The residents of Baxter Street are paying the price for Waze's automated recklessness: their cars are being smashed by out-of-control Baxter newbies; the wrecks plow through their yards and knock down their garden walls and fences; one Baxter resident's car was hit while it was in her driveway!

Baxter residents have repeatedly contacted Waze and asked them not to divert traffic onto their street, especially during rain, but Waze has not responded.

The Baxter situation is one of the many negative externalities of app-based nav systems, which "solve" the problem of highway and main-road congestion by directing drivers onto local streets designed for light usage by residents, not as pass-throughs for transient drivers.

On one of L.A.'s steepest streets, an app-driven frenzy of spinouts, confusion and crashes [Steve Lopez/LA Times]

(via Super Punch)

(Image: Ken Kuhl)