Technology is a funny thing.
For years, I’ve loved staring at maps.
It’s not just studying where places are in relation to each other, but figuring out how to get to from one place to another.
The Thomas Guide was a good friend for years helping me discover new ways to get from the Valley to Westwood with very little traffic.
Thanks to Google Maps and Strava, I now have more tools at my expense to help discover great places to ride and even throw in some off road options as well.
But a funny thing happened a couple odd years ago.
Quiet roads somehow became cut throughs.
First, it was just a few cars, but still very noticeable against previous conditions.
Waze doing its best to clog more streets.
Now, I see drivers come through these side streets in waves as refreshed algorithms command packs at a time to the quickest possible route to their destination.
It’s very easy to spot people using these apps because at each intersection drivers check for updates to see if there’s a change in direction.
Maybe it gets people to where they want to go faster, but my guess is it just causes more congestion at major crossing points since these apps jist encourage more driving.
In turn, more volume can amplify problems, especially the ones these apps don’t anticipate.
A couple of weeks ago, I was biking up my usual route to Mulholland as squadrons of drivers passed me.
I’m very familiar with the road and know the points where only one car can get by.
I saw an unusual blockage at one of these spots and before I got to the point of contention, I already knew what the problem was:
Wednesday is trash day.
For some reason, drivers can’t accept this and expect to move like all systems normal, but these garbage trucks displace space.
A lot of space.
If you’re a waze supporter half full, you’re thinking one day we’ll add these trash trucks to the algorithm and all is well.
What happens when the system fails?
I just know I’ll be riding my bike.