LEONIA, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Leonia’s drastic traffic experiment will take place later this month.

As CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, the sleepy, little New Jersey town, a quarter-mile from the George Washington Bridge, is declaring 60 residential streets off-limits to drivers who use them as cut-throughs.

Residents say they are sick of traffic tie-ups caused by commuters short-cutting.

“They should stay on the highway,” said Carlos Gomez, of Leonia. “Why bother us?”


A car drives down a residential street in Leonia, New Jersey. (credit: CBS2)

The ordinance establishes a $200 fine for short-cutters. But Leonia Mayor Judah Zeigler said it’s really all about those apps.

“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,” he said.

“They will do that once this legislation takes effect.”

The mayor said the legislation gives the navigational apps no choice but to warn drivers that cutting through could cut into their wallets.

A spokesperson for Waze did not immediately return CBS2’s calls. But in the past, it has not opposed such tactics to remove local roads.

Zeigler said drivers without yellow tags proving residency could find themselves stopped by one of Leonia’s 18 police officers and questioned.

“The first thing the officer is going to say is, ‘Do you have business in Leonia?'” the mayor said.

“We do truly believe that there’s no issue of legality here,” he said.

Zeigler said the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a town’s right to control access to roads as long as residents and emergency vehicles are not denied access.

It remains to be seen if Leonia’s approach to traffic control and getting off the apps will spread problems to surrounding towns, forcing those places to follow its lead.

The new law only applies to Leonia’s residential side streets, and not the town’s three major roads.

Comments (96)
  1. Tony Simpson says:

    major constitutional problem here as it limits free travel/

    1. A fine for using publicly (aka taxpayer) funded roads? Seriously? I can sympathize with the homeowners, as where I live it’s a common short cut. But I’d never seriously consider wanting a law fining those using the road as a shortcut.

  2. Look for the nearest 7-11, and if stopped…

    “Do you have business here?”
    “Yeah, I’m going to the 7-11.”

    Problem solved.

  3. I could care less, there is nothing in New Jersey except maybe Jimmy Hoffa’s unmarked grave along side other unnamed mobsters. If they pull over too many “people of color” for cutting through, watch Jesse Jackson and Fat Al Sharpton visit the town.
    Besides, if the cop asks you if you have business, you can just say “yes” and leave it at that. If they start interrogating you, tell them you won’t speak without a lawyer, you can’t afford one, and need a public defender.

  4. Ted Jones says:

    Good way to keep the “You Know Who’s” out!

  5. This is pure BS. The last time I looked, “public” streets were for the use of the “public.” I’m tempted to drive there and get picked up intentionally just so I can sue the town out of existence.

    1. Way to go, Leonia. Ticket the crap out of the ’em. Stay on the main roads during critical traffic hours and you won’t have an issue, idiots.

  6. Andy Howe says:

    So, streets are no longer going to be considered PUBLIC rights of way?

  7. Greg Cochran says:

    Sure sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. The citizens of this town will have to pay a huge judgement.

  8. Bart Drennon says:

    Just tell them you’re an illegal alien and the Dimwit Dems will give you a key to the city.

    1. Ed Cole says:

      I cannot believe this is legal. If the town can violate our constitutional right to liberty, then that town should have to give up every penny of state and federal funds for anything related to roads and transit. If residents of other NJ towns, and anyone else can be blocked from travel on that town’s roads, then we should not have to give them one red cent of taxes or other funds.

  9. Guy Joubert says:

    Uh, don’t put a paved public street there paid for by tax dollars if you don’t want people driving on it.

    1. Hao De says:

      are not navigational aids designed to provide the least congested routes ?

  10. Not a very friendly town. End of story. Stay away and spend no money there.

  11. Jason Watson says:

    Pretty sure these are the same folks that say it’s OK for people to illegally enter the country. I mean, these drivers are only looking for a better drive, amirite?

  12. Ken Murray says:

    Just MORE proof that Liberals are truly NAZI.

  13. I have wondered for a long time if Leonia might eventually resort to this. The straight path from I-80 to the GW Bridge is via Degraw Ave./Fort Lee Road in Leonia; the highway (I-95) takes a looping detour around the town. Apps or no apps, if the highway is backed up and you know the area, you will be tempted to get off at Exit 70 and use Degraw Ave. instead.

  14. Really???

    Fine, then you pay for your street to be paved and the snow removal, and stop expecting us to foot the bill.

  15. Sounds a lot like Nazism to me. They vote heavily Democrat all the time in Jersey and Democrats want us in our towns and states to accept millions of illegal aliens from third world countries, but then we can’t drive down their “protected-class” streets??? Are they smoking too much medical pot?

  16. Just say you’re looking for a gas station with reasonable gas prices off the highway. Then if they stop you again after you drive thru say you didn’t find their gas prices affordable.

  17. Paco Valdez says:

    Post 25 MPH speed limits. Enforce them strictly. Take all the time necessary to verify license and registration are up to date at traffic stops; collect fines. New Jersey drivers are savvy; they will act accordingly.

    Issue resolved.

  18. David Moore says:

    I ain’t no lawyer… but passing a law like that seems a bit UNCONSTITUTIONAL to my simple mind…

  19. Dale White says:

    I knew before I clicked this story on that it was somewhere in Yankeeville.

  20. John Memoli says:

    “Cars” should be required viewing for local legislatures.

  21. Maryann Lima says:

    I would tell them, that I will refuse to pay any taxes for these roads. They are PUBLIC roads, break em down, put up fences and make it gated then.

  22. Putting up a “no through traffic” sign and notifying the navigation services seems to work for every other town.

  23. If I’m pulled over in Leonia and asked whether I have business in there, my response will be “Yes, I’m here to use taxpayer-funded roads. And get a cup of coffee.” Should get my point across without getting a ticket.

  24. This town has no right to block access to public roads. Furthermore, no one has to talk to the police about anything. Any lawyer will tell you that. You need to be committing a crime to be stopped. Driving on a public street isn’t a crime.

  25. Matt Singer says:

    Plenty of roads get signs that say “Local Traffic Only”.

  26. Jinx Fogle says:

    If they have taken even $1.00 from the federal government then they don’t own those roads! I’m not near there but I would get a bunch of people to cruise around DARING the cops to ticket us lol loser. Off subject but if everyone asked for a six month income tax extension we could shut down the federal government yahoo.

    1. Paul Woomer says:

      Great Idea. Now any one with Jersey plates needs to stay out of my state.

  27. Realistically people should just show more respect and class than this. The same thing happens out here in Davis CA. the Apps show you to leave the congestion on the highway and cut through town and get back on the highway. It all comes down to poor driving in the first place though. Most of the time, “the shortcut” ends up taking longer than just waiting out the traffic. But then again, these are the consequences of living in big cities, or near highways. Home buyer beware!

  28. Has anybody, ever in the history of the Universe, aspired to someday live in New Jersey?

  29. Samuel Green says:

    Last time I checked, ANY American motorist can use any public right of way and if this city thinks this will stand up in court, they are sorely mistaken.

    They will be sued to change their idiotic stance.

  30. bandit08 says:

    “The first thing the officer is going to say is, ‘Do you have business in Leonia?’” the mayor said.</b.

    Sig Heil!

    1. Yes officer, the mayor is having a special on pot and his radio ads say I have only another…five minutes.

  31. Mike McKee says:

    So they’re going to stop every person who is visiting a Leonia resident as well? How would they know, since they won’t have a yellow sticker? I predict, if this ill-conceived law actually goes into effect, that the residents will begin squawking anew once their friends and relatives begin to be stopped every time they try to visit.

  32. So…if any town wanted to outlaw travel on its streets by, say, Californians, they could do so as long as those with California plates could not specify a local address as a destination? Or…California cities and towns could do the same to any vehicle (say…a federal vehicle with ICE personnel) to keep them off of city or county streets? Somehow I don’t think this will work out.

  33. Denying people the right to travel. Oh, I see a major court case coming. I don’t see the town being able to handle the legal fees.

  34. Soryu Hiryu says:

    It is really pretty simple. City taxes, vehicle registrations and gas taxes pay for the roads. The motorist have just as much right to drive on neighborhood roads as expressways as long as they comply with regulatory signs and speed limits. When the neighbor hood owns the road as a private road and assumes all responsibilities for maintenance and repair, then they can decide who can drive on it. Sorry Mayor, you cannot collect dollars for your roads from the traveling public and then not allow them to use the roads.

  35. How could this hold up in court? Tax funded streets can be used by anyone.

  36. John Knox says:

    I live in a lakefront community in SC near Charlotte that used to have a gate at the entrance to keep out the riff raff, but we got sued by two people and lost. When we incorporated as a city in the 1980s, we lost our right to privacy basically, and had to keep the roads open to the public.

  37. Dave Fay says:

    Sounds like this stupidass town wants to spend its total budget on unwinnable court challenges.

  38. Herb Rapoza says:

    How about adding a dress code to this ordinance?

  39. Todd Thomas says:

    I can empathize as I live in a quiet neighborhood tucked deep into the area within an intersection of two main thoroughfares, and thus yes many people use our streets to “cut the corner” and avoid the very busy intersection of these two main streets….however, we kinda know the deal living here.

  40. Lazlo Toth says:

    A police officer has no right to stop you and ask you why you are in a public space just because you don’t have a local parking sticker. I have a right to be in Leonia for no reason at all, just as I have a reason to be in any public space for no reason at all. This will cost the city a lot of money in litigation expenses.

    1. Herb Rapoza says:

      If this law is implemented a police officer will have every right to stop and question any driver that gives the cop reasonable cause to believe the driver is in violation of the law.

      1. Craig Book says:

        An illegal law does not give law enforcement a right. They will “think” they have the right, and act upon it. By doing so, they will violate someone’s civil rights. They will eventually be sued.

  41. Sam Kunz says:

    It will NEVER pass or be implemented.

  42. Something as insane as this could only happen in a democrat controlled town.

    1. Joe Carr says:

      Correct… the republican towns don’t need fancy laws, they just pull you over for being brown.

      1. Like in Baltimore, DC, Philly, LA, Chitcago? You should eat the scat that you post, do us all a favor.

  43. Why not install Lane Use Control Signals to control traffic during peak hours in the morning and the evening?

    1. That would be an expense and not a form of revenue.

  44. Just tell the officer you are looking for a place to buy or rent and there’s not a thing they can say or do about it.

  45. Sean Grebey says:

    Having grown up in a small town that turned into a major cut through I understand where they are coming from. Residential roads are not designed for highway traffic.

  46. Stupid stupid stupid. It is a PUBLIC street!!!

  47. They get public money to maintain roads. Public Roads, Public access period.

  48. Kazzim Zongo says:

    Visiting Leonia—one more item to delete from my bucket list.

  49. Alan Whitney says:

    So, if I want to see the sights in Leonia, I get fined? Sounds like a good place to avoid, for ANY reason!

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