Bristol Clean Air Zone: the community-led app designed to help savvy drivers avoid Clean Air Zone charge

An army of volunteers have worked together to ensure the app can ‘outsmart traffic’ and provide routes around the Clean Air Zone
An app designed by thousands of volunteers will allow drivers to avoid the Bristol Clean Air Zone.An app designed by thousands of volunteers will allow drivers to avoid the Bristol Clean Air Zone.
An app designed by thousands of volunteers will allow drivers to avoid the Bristol Clean Air Zone.

Savvy drivers may be able to avoid paying daily Clean Air Zone (CAZ) charges thanks to an app designed to find routes around the zone in Bristol. More than 100,000 volunteers have contributed to providing the most up-to-date roadmap for motorists.

Waze, the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app, has confirmed the launch of its smart-routing feature which will help vehicles avoid unnecessary fines and reduce overall carbon emissions. The tool operates using information logged by Waze’s volunteering Map Editor community which has added permit notifications and a designated CAZ area to the map meaning motorists in Bristol are now able to indicate in the app whether their vehicle is CAZ-compliant.

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From today (November 28), Bristol City Council will begin to charge personal-use vehicles, taxis and small vans £9-a-day while non-compliant HGVs, buses and coaches will face a £100-a-day charge. Waze will notify drivers if their route goes through the CAZ, allowing them to choose whether or not to travel that way. The routing will help drivers steer clear of unnecessary fines and reduce their carbon footprint by finding optimal routes to travel.

Sharing more information on the process, volunteer Community Map editor, Ian Ross said: “My Waze editor experience began seven years ago through a general interest in maps and navigation around my local area. It has since grown to an obsession with ensuring our UK maps reflect real-time road conditions and are compliant with measures like Bristol’s Clean Air Zone.

“By adding Clean Air Zones to Waze, we can deliver the correct information to our users, help them choose the most appropriate route and avoid unwanted penalties. If the route options encourage drivers to consider changing their vehicle for an eco-friendly alternative, that’s an added benefit.”

The CAZ blankets much of the city centre area as well as key routes in and out of Bristol such as the Portway. Bristol City Council has confirmed people will not receive written notification or any kind of alert that they have entered the Clean Air Zone or that a payment is due - meaning individuals and businesses are fully responsible for managing charges. Failure to do so up to a week after entering the zone will land you a £120 fine, reduce to £60 if paid soon enough.

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