At your own risk, indeed

Mashable recently reported on a Google Maps user that was injured while following walking directions from the site, and later sued Google and both the driver of the vehicle that hit her.

Lauren Rosenberg used her Blackberry to get this set of directions in Park City, UT which include an 0.6 mile stretch on Deer Valley Drive, also known as highway 224. The Blackberry’s Google Maps application apparently does not give the standard warning about walking directions being in beta, which is the focus of Lauren’s lawsuit against Google.

I would imagine the Blackberry application also does not show the choice of two to four different routes, as the third choice as of the time I ran the directions uses Park Avenue for most of the distance and only requires one to walk 279 feet (or just over 1/20 of a mile) down the apparently pedestrian-hostile Deer Valley Drive. There is no route that completely avoids Deer Valley Drive (every street in the area which intersects Deer Valley Drive does not go through to the other side, probably due to geography). The Google Street View pictures show a speed limit of 35 mph for this stretch of the road, probably about the only pedestrian-friendly thing about it.

I’m not sure the lawsuit against Google is entirely deserved; the directions are about the best that can be managed, though Google was sloppy to not include the warning in the Blackberry app. There is no question that the driver who hit Lauren deserves to be sued, of course. However, I am wondering why the government responsible for maintaining the roads isn’t being sued as well, as the roads could be made somewhat more pedestrian friendly than they are. I understand the limits of geography and our motor-vehicle-centric society (and thus the assumption that “everyone has a car” in a small town like this). However, cars do break down, and sometimes the only way to get to the auto parts store is on foot. Sometimes civil engineers forget this simple fact of life.