It was a bit of surprise seeing a Google booth at the National Bike Summit. They are here to announce biking directions on Google Maps. This is a nice complement to the driving, walking, and public transit directions.
The routing algorithm doesn’t shy away from routing cyclists on some main roads, like Woodward Avenue. Perhaps we can use this as another reason to make Metro Detroit’s streets more bike friendly.
One major issue: Google is showing sidepaths/wide sidewalks as legitimate bicycling facilities when they are not according to national design guidelines. This makes us think SEMCOG may have provided this data to Google. Despite our comments against doing so, SEMCOG included sidepaths/wide sidewalks as bicycle facilities maps. We’ll bring this issue up with Google.
Here’s part of the announcement from the League of American Bicyclists:
This new feature includes: step-by-step bicycling directions; bike trails outlined directly on the map; and a new “Bicycling” layer that indicates bike trails, bike lanes, and bike-friendly roads. The directions feature provides step-by-step, bike-specific routing suggestions – similar to the directions provided by our driving, walking, or public transit modes. Simply enter a start point and destination and select “Bicycling” from the drop-down menu. You will receive a route that is optimized for cycling, taking advantage of bike trails, bike lanes, and bike-friendly streets and avoiding hilly terrain whenever possible.
Visit http://maps.google.com/biking to try out this new feature. Biking directions for Google Maps is currently in Beta.