Google Maps Finally Adds Bike Routes

Google Maps Finally Adds Bike Routes

Beginning in 2010, Google Maps has offered routes specifically for bikes. Now, cyclists can use their computers to plot the best route from point A to point B, including the topography and traffic conditions. Starting with major cities, such as New York, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Portland, but continuing to 150 cities nationwide, Google Maps will be a great resource for cyclists.

Cycling advocates, many of whom had been petitioning Google for years to add this feature, were ecstatic. As reported by Mary Catherine O'Connor at http://www.wired.com, Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists stated "This new tool will open people's eyes to the possibility and practicality of hopping on a bike and riding. . . . It is a game changer, especially for those short trips that are the most polluting."

To create the mapping tool, Google developed an algorithm that uses several inputs – including designated bike lanes or trails, topography and traffic signals – to determine the best route for riding. Bike trails are indicated in dark green. Streets with dedicated bike lanes, like those in New Haven, are light green. Streets that do not have a bike lane, but that are still a decent route because of their topography, light traffic or other factors deemed friendly to cycling are indicated by dotted green lines.

Unlike auto routes, Google Maps for bikes does not provide precise directions like a GPS system that provides turn by turn guidance. Nevertheless, this new mapping capability offers great information for cyclists, and makes planning new rides that much easier and safer.