In the U.S., we tend to do our streets big and wide. In Europe, not so much. (I have literally been able to cross a road in Ireland in four steps, and I’m barely 5-foot-9.) This is a problem for Google’s Street View tool and its mission to map the world’s roads — even the smallest car is going to have trouble getting around in some parts of the world.
Enter the Google Trike. Google is going to use these big tricycles to take Street View photographs of footpaths in the UK, cobblestone lanes in Rome, and many other similarly car-unfriendly roadways.
But in the UK, this is more than just a cute and unique way to use technology on narrow roads. It’s a way for Google to show skeptical Brits that Street View can be a Good Thing.
In a partnership with VisitBritain, Google is taking the seemingly unprecedented step of inviting the public to help decide what “special image collections” should be added to Street View. They’ve set up a public survey page where UK residents can choose what tourist destinations deserve the extra Street View attention.
It’s an interesting tactic to woo Brits to what Street View offers. Keep in mind that Street View has had a particularly rough road to acceptance in the UK. Privacy International, a watchdog group, filed a complaint with the government just days after Street View launched there. Other UK officials were upset when Street View cameras caught a photo of a naked child. And let’s not forget the UK village that recently flagged down a Street View car and harassed the driver into leaving.
Good thing that guy wasn’t on a tricycle.
It’s somewhat reminiscent of the Australian flyover stunt that Google tried back in 2007, only there’s probably more riding on the success of this bicycle-based outreach in the UK.
(Photo via CNET)