Google Maps Sites: From Instant Street View to Holiday Messages

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2012-12-02 Print this article Print

New Google Maps apps are constantly being unveiled around the world. Here are some of the coolest new ways to use Google Maps this holiday season.

Explore Your Inner Richard Petty Online

A collection of renowned auto-racing road courses are already portrayed online in Google Maps Street View images, but not all of us have the means to attend races on the continent. There is an answer, though, according to Google Maps Mania, with the new images now provided of an indoor go-kart track in Ayslebury, U.K. Sure, it's silly fun, but the holidays are approaching, and you'll be able to at least be able to brag about your virtual kart racing visit with all of your friends.

Find the Best Biking Roads

Looking for fabulous roads to go bicycling anywhere around the world in any season? Then, explore the Cyclist's Road Map, which helps cyclists get real-world information on roads everywhere. The Website's information is crowd-sourced, according to Google Maps Mania, and provides its insights through the direct input of riders around the world.

"Cyclists can submit reviews of roads based on the quality of the road surface, scenery and the amount of traffic on a road," according to Google Maps Mania. "Roads that have already been rated are color-coded on the map; green indicates roads that have been recommended by other cyclists and red indicates that the road has been deemed to be a bad road for cycling. If a user selects an individual road on the map, they can view the road's overall rating and also view the road's individual ratings for the road surface, scenery and traffic levels."

Have You Heard of Donna, the Deer-Crossing Lady?

In October, a woman called in to a local Y94 Playhouse radio show in North Dakota to vent one of her frustrations: She wanted to know why in the world local road officials would set up deer-crossing signs on Interstates and other major roadways. Instead, she argued, deer crossings should be set up in less-traveled areas where vehicles wouldn't be in danger of striking deer, causing injuries and property damage.

The radio exchange of that conversation went viral online and led to much humor about her naivete. She did a follow-up interview after that first call and admitted she might have missed the original point of the signs. Of course, she now knows, the deer-crossing signs are set up where the deer are naturally crossing in order to warn motorists. The signs aren't there to tell the deer where to cross, because we all know they can't read.

It made us think about a clever app in Washington state that is building a crowd-sourced I-90 Wildlife Watch monitoring database on Interstate 90 through the Snoqualmie Pass region of Washington, according to Google Map Mania. Using the site, residents can enter data on wildlife they observe in the corridor, including the species, the number of such animals that were seen, the milepost on the highway where they were spotted, and the date and time of the sightings.

"The aim of the project is to gather information about wildlife on the I-90 to help inform highway planning," according to Google Map Mania. "The Snoqualmie Pass region is a critical link in the north-south movement of wildlife. With the help of these crowd-sourced reports, the project hopes that measures can be introduced to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and enhance the safe passage of wildlife in the future."

Maybe Donna can help with the effort to make I-90 safer for animals and people in the region.


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