Google maps, Waze – not always to be trusted

We recently did a trip to Bebo Grove in Calgary. It’s a lovely provincial park within Fish Creek park with beautiful access to the Bow river within a treed forest. It’s a great place to visit, all while staying within the city limits. We’d been there a couple years back, and google maps took us there with no troubles. We assumed this would be the case again.

We piled everyone into the car, set the name in Google maps, and drove off. Things were fine at first. I recognized the main roads to get there. However, when we arrived in a SW community close to the park, we were directed to drive round and round in circles. Eventually the phone chirped, “your destination is on your right”. Looking to the right, we saw a giant mansion. Evidently, Google maps screwed up.

Fed up with Google, I switched to Waze. Waze did a little bit better in that we drove past a huge sign saying “road closed”. We asked some neighbours in the community, and they said the city had closed the roads for over a year, and hadn’t provided alternate access. That figures for the city of Calgary! They are excellent at screwing up access to recreational facilities, all while jacking up property taxes.

Anyway, we were given instructions by the neighbours to park on the street and hike in. For grown adults, this would be no problem. With young children, this is more involved. We had to hike down a steep grade, backtrack, and then find an alternate path to the river bottom. In the end, after a km or so, we found a nice spot for a picnic lunch, and then later, a beautiful spot for the kids to play in the shallow water in the river.

Why I decided to write this article is that it reminded me of a news story I watched this winter. I fellow had relied on a map application on his phone (probably Google maps given how common it is) to get to his daughter’s place in the countryside. Tragically, the phone gave him false directions and he ended up stuck on a rural road, in icy / muddy conditions. Worse still, the temperature hovered around -30 C. His phone ran out of battery life, and he was trapped. For days he sat in the car trying to keep warm. Eventually he ran out of gas.

As luck would have it, a snow plow saw the parked vehicle and stopped. The man was rescued, but only after he’d suffered severe frostbite. After being transported to the hospital, it became clear that his foot would have to be amputated.

Relying on Google maps or other apps could kill you. Never put 0% of your trust in these apps; it’s best to be cautious.

One Reply to “Google maps, Waze – not always to be trusted”

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