Introducing the Street View Trike

10/16/2009 06:00:00 AM

With Street View on Google Maps, you can take a virtual drive over the Golden Gate Bridge or see the bustle of Times Square from the comfort of your own home. But some of the country’s most interesting and fun places aren’t accessible with our Street View car. What if you want to tour the campuses of prospective universities, scout a new running trial, or plan the most efficient route to your favorite roller coasters in a theme park?

I first started thinking about this question around two years ago. My day job is working as a mechanical engineer on the Street View team, but I do a lot of mountain biking in my spare time. One day, while exploring some roads less traveled, I realized that I could combine these two pursuits and build a bicycle-based camera system for Street View. The result? The Street View trike:

I’ve already had a chance to take the Street View trike out to photograph some hard-to-reach places for Google Maps, like the Arastradero Open Preserve and LEGOLAND California. When I’m out riding — and once people understand what exactly I’m up to — I’m often asked if we can come to their alma mater, local bike trail or favorite beach boardwalk. Now, we’re giving everyone a chance to tell us exactly where in the U.S. they’d like the trike to go next.

At, you can suggest interesting and unique spots in six categories:

  • Parks & Trails
  • University Campuses
  • Pedestrian Malls (e.g., outdoor shopping areas, boardwalks)
  • Theme Parks & Zoos
  • Landmarks
  • Sports Venues (e.g., golf courses, racing tracks, stadium grounds)

Nominations will be open until October 28. We’ll then comb through all of the suggestions and let all of you cast your final votes on a winner from each category for the Street View trike to visit. For any privately-owned or operated location, like a campus or theme park, we’ll work directly with the relevant organization prior to collecting the imagery.

When we unveiled the Street View trike in the U.K., we received more than 10,000 nominations and 35,000 votes; Stonehenge and Warwick Castle were two of the top vote-getters. We can’t wait to see what you’ll come up with in the U.S. — head to to submit your most inspired ideas.

Posted by Dan Ratner, Senior Mechanical Engineer

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