Google Adding “Trail Views” to Maps


So apparently this story is getting picked up all over the place and at first I was pretty excited at the prospects: Google Street View is expanding to hiking and biking trails. For those who are not familiar with Google Street View, it basically allows you to view locations on a map as if you were standing right there on the street (or now, trail). Google collects millions of photos using a vehicle mounted camera and GPS and stitches the images together to create sort of an online virtual reality experience. Sure privacy advocates aren’t too fond of it since Google is snapping pics of innocent bystanders and private properties but that’s another debate…

Anyway, it turns out Google just mapped and posted its first bike trail – a path in Monterey, CA. The article that’s floating around doesn’t give the name of the trail but I assumed it would be somewhere awesome like Fort Ord. Fortunately this website has located the elusive Google “Bike View” trail: it’s the (wide, concrete) Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail that runs right through downtown. Ahhh, it’s that kind of bike “trail”…

The article mentions the rig that was used to get the trail shots is some sort of “trike” which I assume is necessary because the tech is so heavy (batteries, cameras, gps, etc.). Until the rig shrinks I don’t think we’ll be seeing any singletrack views anytime soon – though Google is said to be working on mapping “hiking and biking trails” in California, Italy, and the UK.

Ultimately this is a pretty cool development but I can’t see myself spending hours (or even more than 5 minutes) clicking through a “virtual trail.” I’d much rather be out there riding it!

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