Google Woos Brits With Bike-Based Street View Project

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.

Until now.


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)

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Google: Critics | Google: Street View


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • scobb

    I blogged some examples from my home town that illustrate why some Brits are not keen on Street View. Sometimes that camera is just too close for comfort, peering into your living room when if you haven’t got lace curtains.

    Not sure if Google will win over the Brits, but should probably invest in lace curtain stocks either way.


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