Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bike Directions: New Option on Google Maps

After multiple appeals of the bikers, Google has just added intelligent biking directions for multiple U.S. bike trails as a new option inside Google Maps. The option has been developed in Google partnership with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, processing of more than 12,000 miles of trails included in biking directions and outlining them directly on the map. Data also included on bike lanes and recommended streets for 150 cities across the country. This can help you get a better sense of your route, or let you find trails nearby for a recreational ride. When you're zoomed into a city, click on the "More" button at the top of the map to turn on the "Bicycling” layer.

You'll see three types of lines appear on the map:
  • Dark green indicates a dedicated bike-only trail;
  • Light green indicates a dedicated bike lane along a road;
  • Dashed green indicates roads that are designated as preferred for bicycling, but without dedicated lanes.
On official Google blog, Shannon Guymon, Product Manager, assures that the new biking features will “include as much bike trail data as possible, provide efficient routes, allow riders to customize their trip, make use of bike lanes, calculate rider-friendly routes that avoid big hills and customize the look of the map for cycling to encourage folks to hop on their bikes.”

The new option now sits next to the current Google  Maps standbys — car, public transit and walking — for online routing options, so users can select the new option from the dropdown menu to uncover a Google-recommended bike routes.

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Note, that as of right now, biking is not an option in mobile apps, so make sure to plan ahead before you hit the pavement.

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