Google Maps error sends drivers down pedestrian steps while following satnavs

Van stuck in Greenside Lane, Edinburgh
A van comes a cropper on Jan 18 2023 in Greenside Lane, Edinburgh - Alan Wilson

A barrier is to be installed in central Edinburgh after satnavs repeatedly sent cars crashing down a set of steps.

City of Edinburgh Council is expected to begin work on the new temporary barricade this week. It follows a series of incidents where vehicles became stranded with drivers blaming instructions on their smartphones.

Software had failed to reflect the updated road layout on Greenside Lane, near the city’s Theatre Royal bar, after the steps were completed in October 2023.

The council said it had written to Apple and Google in a bid to have their mapping systems changed. But despite Google insisting the issue had been fixed the mishaps continued.

Images of motorists becoming trapped on the steps after crossing a cycle lane and pavement had been widely shared on social media.

Delivery van stuck in Edinburgh
The latest driver to become stuck on the steps said he was 'embarrassed' - BBC News

A delivery driver became the latest victim on Monday after driving his large white van down the alley.

“I was just following the satnav,” the driver, who said he had not been behind the wheel in the Scottish capital in a decade, told BBC Scotland.

“I always remember I used to come down this way. I followed it and just got stuck. I had no idea there was a step there. I am a bit embarrassed about it.”

The steps were installed in October 2023 to block access to road traffic following the redesign of Picardy Place.

The council’s transport and environment committee acknowledged issues with “vehicular interaction with the steps” had not been raised when plans were approved in 2021.

It said: “Google Maps has recently been updated to reflect the new layout and a request for a correction has been sent to Apple Maps. While this update is awaited, a temporary barrier will be installed.”

Scott Arthur, the city’s transport convenor, had urged motorists to use their “common sense”.

He added: “Cars and trucks don’t go down steps.”

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