Google Maps for Bicyclists

Friday, March 28th, 2014 By

Some cyclists love big hills, but if you don't, check out Google Maps

Yesterday, Google announced that it has added biking directions to Google Maps for the United States. Whether you ride for exercise, to run errands, to commute to work, or just for fun, Google Maps can now make your life little easier, a little more scenic, and even a little safer.  No matter why you ride a bike, chances are you’ll appreciate this: Google Maps bicycling directions will help you avoid hilly terrain whenever possible.

Google Maps now includes a “bicycling” layer showing bike lanes, bike-friendly roads, and bike trails. The directions feature of Google Maps, which previously included walking and public transit as well as automobile driving, now provides detailed routing directions for bicycling, too. When you’re strapped for cash and out of gas, you can pull up Google Maps, print out directions, hop on a bike, follow the best possible route to any number of payday lenders, and fill out a quick personal loan application.

It’s as easy as riding a bike

Just like Google Maps for driving, bicyclists simply type in a starting point and a destination, choose “bicycling” from the drop-down menu, and customize their routes by clicking and dragging. Before starting out, bicyclists who prefer not to sip on the fly can use Google Maps to figure out where to take water breaks, and those who aren’t comfortable fixing flats on the fly can figure out where bike shops are along the route. True to form, Google Maps even provides bicyclists with time estimates based on route length, terrain, fatigue over time, and other factors.

Naturally, there’s more

As if that weren’t enough, the “more” drop-down menu on Google Maps displays a color-coded overlay to indicate trails (dark green), bike lanes along roads (light green), and roads without bike lanes that are appropriate for biking (dotted green), based on traffic, terrain, and intersections. It’s really pretty impressive. Take a look: It could make you turn off your computer and go ride a bike.

Working with others, including you

Google has partnered with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to provide bicycling information for more than 12,000 trail miles in the United States. Rails-to-Trails is a nonprofit organization that builds walking and riding trails on former railway lines. Google encourages bicyclists to provide feedback by using the reporting tool found at the bottom of the map.

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This post has one comment

  1. Jon Spangler says:

    The bicycle route mapping is definitely still in a "beta" phase, and selects routes between Oakland and Alameda

    ( Ilive in Alameda) some terrible routes: dangerous, high-speed traffic, and otherwise unhealthy.

    Make sure that you verify any routes recommended by Google with trustworthy sources–local bike route maps, knowledgeable cyclists, bike shops. etc. Google's app is "not ready for prime time" yet and should not be relied on by itself without checking with known sources.

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