What do you do if you’re a small town that suddenly finds itself inundated by non-local drivers who on your streets because their GPS sent them there? Would you:
A.) Improve signal timing and traffic flow to correct real traffic problems in your city?
B.) Upgrade your transportation infrastructure, which clearly can’t handle current traffic conditions?
C.) Contact the folks at Waze and Apple and see if there might be a way to avoid using your town as a detour?
D.) Fine all non-resident commuters $200 during peak traffic times?
If you thought answer D was the best solution, you are either a government bureaucrat or you are an elected official in Leonia, New Jersey. Officials there have enacted an ordinance that prohibits non-residents from being on the city’s roads between 6 and 10 a.m. and 4 and 9 p.m.
If you live or work in Leonia and want to prove your citizenship, you will need to get a yellow tag to hang on your mirror, or will need to produce the appropriate papers to prove you are a resident when the police pull you over and ask you to participate in the city’s new fundraiser.
One more thing you need to know about Leonia: The town is located in close proximity to New York and the George Washington Bridge, which makes its streets a logical route for people wanting to get from New Jersey to New York, and it is obviously a logical enough route that GPS algorithms pick it.
The ploy itself is an obvious money-grab. Drivers who are relying on GPS probably don’t know what in the world a Leonia is and certainly won’t know that the road they are driving on is off-limits to outsiders. The measure probably isn’t actually going to take that many cars off of the city’s allegedly crowded streets.
And how exactly does that traffic stop work, anyway? Does the police officer walk up to your car, tap on your window and say, “Excuse me, were you just driving on this street?”
“Why, yes sir,” you timidly reply.
“I’m sorry, that’s illegal. I’m going to have to fine you $200.”
“Illegal? What law did I break? I was going the speed limit, and I was just following the guy in front of me. I did everything he did.”
“Yes, but he is a Leonia resident and you are not. Pay up.”
“Leonia? I thought I was in Bogata. What law was I breaking?”
“You’re a non-resident driving on a city street.”
“Are you crazy?”
“No. That’s the law.”
“But the law is crazy.”
“Welcome to Leonia. Pay up.”
There’s no way this law lasts more than one year.
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