July 12, 2011

Driveway or Park Entrance? Don't Ask Google Maps


Have you ever taken your carefully printed directions with you on a road trip, only to realize that the shortcut you discovered to avoid the holiday traffic no longer existed? Well, most users have discovered the fallibility of sites like MapQuest or Google (News - Alert) Maps the hard way. But usually it results in, at most, a slight detour.

Not so for Laurie Gneilding and Michael Brady. For them, Google Maps has turned their private driveway into a high traffic area. Perhaps it is a spin on the old adage: “If you map it, they will come…”

It turns out that the couple, who live very close to Round Valley State Park in New Jersey, have been the victims of a computer-glitch gone awry. After weeks of people in cars, RVs and bikes trying to use the couple’s quarter mile private driveway to access the park, they discovered the secret. Google Maps was leading park-goers down the wrong path.

The site had labeled the couple’s driveway as the entrance to the park. Gneiding brought the issue to the attention of Google Maps, but so far it has not been remedied. Perhaps Google is too busy promoting Google + to care.

The couple has been forced to take matters into their own hands. They purchased barriers and signs to try and dissuade visitors. Gneiding told the Newark Star Ledger "It goes across the driveway at the top of the hill on Friday nights and stays there each weekend and holiday, like July 4th. Anytime we need to leave the house we have to move it or put it back."

Still, despite adding a sign explaining that Google Maps is incorrect, stubborn visitors keep trying to access the park via the couple’s driveway. Google claims that a solution is forthcoming, though perhaps Gneiding and Brady should not hold their breaths.

In the meantime, maybe park goers would be better off using a GPS, but then again, mine has tried to lead me into a pond before…

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Rich Steeves is a TMCnet copy editor. He taught writing for nine years. He has also worked as an editorial assistant at Penny Publications. He has written short stories, newspaper columns, blogs and recently published his first novel. He attended The George Washington University where he received his bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell