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.
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.