Monday, March 15, 2010

Google Maps adds "bicycle route finder"

Last week, in conjuction with the opening day of the National Bike Summit in Washington DC, Google maps launched a Beta version of its new direction finder for bicycle routes.

The new map tool will help cyclists find the quickest, safest way from Point A to Point B.

Apparently cyclists have been advocating for Google to add a layer for bicycles to its "Get Directions" function for some time now.

A petition started by Peter Smith at Google Maps 'BikeThere' received more than 50,000 signatures from bicyclists who wanted the service.

The bicycle route finder uses data gathered on bike paths, bike lanes and low-traffic streets to arrive at the suggested route. Google staffers are emphasizing that this project is in Beta, and have built in ways that users can inject their feedback into the results at the "Report a Problem" area.

The results may not show the most direct route in some cases. Not only safety, but topography is also factored into the route-finding formula so that cyclists can avoid steep hills, etc.

Google has produced a "how to" video explaining how to use the new service:

> Please click here to give the new map tool a "test drive."

> Click here for information on bicycling in and around the Great Smokies.

Jeff Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, and more.


Unknown said...

This may work in urban areas or other places, but I looked at a couple of proposed routes for my area and it was completely clueless. It actually had me making like 65 turns to go from my town of Franklin NC to Sylva, NC 25 miles away and mostly on roads which I would never choose to ride on. A great idea, but pretty hilarious if you chose to rely on it!

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

Chuck - Yes, I've been looking at doing a route along the Mississippi River - a national trail known as the Mississippi River Trail - but there was no route info for it. So, yes, I was a little disappointed myself.

Keep in mind though that this is in Beta, so improvements may be on the way...we'll see.