Boulder campus gets Googled for mapping project

Images collected by 'trikers' will form virtual tour for popular search engine

Thousands of campus denizens wander the University of Colorado at Boulder by bike or on foot, but later this year, the entire world will get to take the tour — virtually.

Two of Google's professional "trikers" recently spent about two weeks photographing paths in the city of Boulder and the campus, said Elaine Filadelfo, a company spokeswoman. Those images will be available in the future in Google Maps.

Google has used Street View cars to gather images of neighborhoods, cities and other attractions for several years. But cars couldn't get everywhere, especially on college campuses and to historic landmarks.

So a three-wheeled bicycle was built with an attached camera to collect street-level images.

Trikers — the manpower behind the bicycle-based camera system — photographed the Boulder Creek Path, which recently won Google's Street View contest.

Last October, people were asked to suggest interesting and unique spots in the United States they wanted to see featured in Google Maps. Votes were cast in six categories: parks and trails, university campuses, pedestrian malls, theme parks and zoos, landmarks and sports venues.

After nominations were narrowed down, a winner from each category was selected.

The Boulder Creek Path received the most votes in the parks and trails category.

"When we knew we were going to come to town to photograph the winner, we also worked closely with the city government to get permission and suggestions to photograph many of the other scenic parks around the city," Filadelfo said.

Donna Maes on the Boulder Staff Council spearheaded the effort to get Google to document the CU-Boulder walking paths while the trikers were in town. Google has no plans at this time to photograph other campuses in the CU system.

Google trikers visited Italy and the United Kingdom in 2009.