Leonia, New Jersey, is a small borough of with less than 10,000 residents. It’s located just on the east side of the Hudson river from New York, and it wants to wipe itself of the map. Literally.
This isn’t some ill-conceived joke about New Jerseyan self-immolation (they can’t even pump their own gasoline), but rather one community’s out-of-the-box thinking to ease traffic congestion. Leonia’s powers-that-be have established an ordinance that prohibits non-residents from using residential streets as short cuts, essentially making it a no-go zone for everyone else.
The idea behind it isn’t so much to fine drivers who cut through the village, although the legislation does allow Leonia’s police officers—all 18 of them—to issue a $200 fine if caught, but to get navigation apps to quit recommending the town as a quicker way to a different destination.
“The main reason and driver behind this legislation is to get the navigational apps like Waze, Google Maps and others to remove our side streets from their algorithms and not offer them as recommendations,” said Leonia mayor Judah Zeigler. “They will do that once this legislation takes effect.”
The new rules will only apply to residential streets, and none of Leonia’s three thoroughfares. While it does raise some questions about constitutionality, Ziegler said he believes the town is on sure footing in that regard, and said the Supreme Court has upheld the right of towns to control access to roads in the past.
“The first thing the officer is going to say is, ‘Do you have business in Leonia?’ We do truly believe that there’s no issue of legality here,” he said.