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.

Googmap_02.png

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.

Googmap_01.png

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

Posted by yoshi - 03/10/2010 11:48 PM

It is not an excuse for or against riding your bike. Please stop with the idealist drivel. My immediate response to google maps bike routes is how many routes it was plainly missing in the Mpls area. Whole bike lanes and bike paths were missing and it was unclear how to correct that.

Posted by jpea - 03/11/2010 09:03 AM

yoshi, in the screengrab and on google’s map site there’s a yellow box that clearly says “please report unmapped bike routes, streets that aren’t suited for cycling, and other problems”. Plus, the system just launched in beta in 4 cities. Obviously not ready for prime time, but still a great addition to their FREE offerings. Thanks Google.

Btw, nice little promo with your destination address TC :)

Posted by t.c. worley - 03/11/2010 09:04 AM

Yoshi,
Let’s not forget that this is a brand new option and that it comes to us free of charge. I think it will improve with time. Some of my comments are tongue-in-cheek, sorry if you missed that.

Posted by Stephen Regenold - 03/11/2010 11:01 AM

I mapped a few bike routes from my home to points known in the city. Was impressed! The app seemed to really pick the best routes and the streets/trails I regularly take.

Posted by Scott - 03/11/2010 02:45 PM

What a hoot – Bar Harbor, ME to L.A. in only 12 days, 17 hours(!).

More practically I gave it my home to work destinations and it matched my route exactly, avoiding busy streets…well done.

Posted by crossn81 - 03/11/2010 05:27 PM

I’m sure you’ve heard of cyclopath here in the Twin Cities. It is a great geowiki (wikimap). I wonder if Google could be successful with something similar. Cyclopath link

Posted by jpea - 03/12/2010 08:18 AM

looks like cyclopath does a great job. wow, never heard of it till now. thanks for sharing crossn81

Posted by Cameron - 03/12/2010 02:53 PM

Wow, Yoshi… “Please stop with the idealist drivel.” Where did get that impression from???

That aside, since most experienced cyclists already know our local routes, this will help get inexperienced riders get into the fold. Good first step Google!

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