Google Maps ‘Bike There’

By T.C. WORLEY

Google has beefed up its Google Maps empire again — this time throwing we cyclists a bone. When performing a “directions” search, you can now choose the “bicycling” method and GM will give you the most bike-friendly route. What makes a route more “bike friendly” you ask? How about highlighting bike lanes, routing around steep areas and recommending sidestreets more suitable to bike travel.

Bike paths shown in green on Google Maps

I tried it out today when I wanted to run a few errands by bicycle. I knew the way, but wanted to compare my route to what the program recommended. GM did pretty well, taking me along bike lanes, trails and side streets. A few times it took me through questionable traffic areas, but in general gave me a pretty smooth route. This is obviously going to be more useful when I am not familiar with my destination, which is when most people use GM for travel, regardless of the method.

There is a very helpful video tutorial online here. It will explain the finer points of using the program specifically for bikes. I see this being a valuable tool for alternative travel, and like it or not, you now have one less excuse for not riding your bike more places.

—T.C. Worley