Kitchener’s trails will soon be virtually visible on Google Street View
KITCHENER – Thinking of taking the Kitchener trails, but wondering if it’s too sunny or shady or if there are rest areas.
Soon you will be able to check it virtually on Google Street View before you go.
Kitchener is adding its 125 kilometers of trails and parks where the trails intersect to Google Street View this summer. The technology is present in Google Maps and Google Earth and offers panoramic images of city streets.
Perched on an orange tricycle, University of Guelph computer science student Zhelong Chen travels through city trails, capturing footage with a 360-degree camera strapped to his helmet. The city bought the tricycle and the camera.
“You have to ride like a robot and keep your head as straight as possible,” Chen jokes.
Chen started recording the tracks in June and next month sections of the tracks will be available online. Already online is the Kitchener portion of the Spur line.
Chen, an avid cyclist, said his legs were used to pedaling. It often goes down to stretch and only goes up in the morning to avoid the afternoon heat. Energy drinks and Cliff bars help, he adds.
While on the trails, Chen is often approached by residents curious about his orange ride and the camera on his helmet.
“Most people approach me and they are very friendly. They complement me on my bike, ”he said.
Courtney Zinn, director of the city’s innovation lab, said Google Street View allows residents to spot an area such as bridges, streams or other points of interest before setting out on the trail.
It captures a point in time and sensitive information is blurred to ensure privacy, Zinn said.
“You can virtually walk the trail and see what it looks like,” she said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when most people were confined to their homes, uploading images of the trail became a priority.
Traffic on city trails such as the Iron Horse and the Spur Line has increased during the pandemic. The Iron Horse Trail is the busiest trail in town.
“It’s a chance to find out something new and one that has become more popular during COVID,” Zinn said.
Residents can also view information about the city’s trails on the website.