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Google Maps and National Bike Summit Coverage

Boy, you’d have to be living under a rock today to miss the explosive coverage of the new Google Maps feature that offers biking directions…this news appeared on literally dozens of sites today, from Gizmodo to Urban Velo, Bike Hugger to PC World and many more.

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We have a sort of unwritten policy here at Bikecommuters.com not to post anything that’s been covered to such an extent elsewhere…but this is BIG news. One of our readers even gently accused us of being asleep at the switch for not posting the news sooner…but he made up for it by providing us a link to an article that has a Google engineer describing how it works — an article I hadn’t seen too much of elsewhere. Check that out by clicking here.

All this is my segue into pointing you toward coverage of the National Bike Summit. One of my dear friends, the BRAINy-award-winning bicycle advocate Alan Snel, is at the National Bike Summit. He got to see the Google folks roll this news out IN PERSON. Over at Alan’s blog, he’s doing some fantastic coverage of the breakout sessions and other events going on at the Summit, including the announcement of the People For Bikes campaign, a visit from Lance, various chats with fellow advocates and a bunch of other goodies. Swing on over to Alan’s Bicycle Stories to check out his coverage of the Summit.

12 Comments

  1. Noah

    I put GMaps through its paces today, and I have to admit, it does an alright job. It makes some choices I wouldn’t make, but you can drag the route to adjust for sections of road that you don’t want to ride on.

  2. Iron_Man

    I’m with Noah, it’s a good start. Google and I agreed for about 65% of the commute, but the route Google chose wasn’t dangerous by any means, just not as safe or visually pleasing as other options I’ve found.

  3. Elizabeth

    Google did alright by me – selecting 3 options – the third being my typical route. Good job! (it even makes you go the right way down one-way streets!)

    Rider feedback will no doubt help improve this service/tool – maybe even offer an option for “less traffic”.

  4. Ghost Rider

    Please keep in mind that ANY mapping app will cough up some odd routes, even if you use it for getting driving directions.

    I’m hoping that bicyclists will flood Google’s office with corrections and alternate routes so this thing gets better and better with time.

  5. BluesCat

    When I put my home and work addresses in, I got three different routes to work: one that follows my current route about 90% of the time, one that follows my old route almost exactly, and one that I have considered trying but have never found the time or inspiration.

    NOW I have a great excuse for the wife this Saturday morning, when I want to go out riding and she wants me to clean the yard: “Honey, this is RESEARCH for WORK!”

  6. Doug Jesseph

    Google utterly bombed on my commute. I got three routes: sad, bad, and lame. It doesn’t know where bike lanes are, and in the interest of shaving a couple of miles it sent me on to streets that are certifiably dreadful. Obviously, you can’t expect the software to know too much about the condition of roads, but I figured it could at least find the bike lanes. Still, it’s nice to see Google recognize that biking is a legit form of transportation.

  7. Iron_Man

    When I’m feeling spunky I will often take the Google suggestion for my route. For instance I’m on the road bike wishing to go fast and can keep pace with traffic better on those 25-35 mph streets. I’m riding during the bright light days of Summer so I’m not concerned as much with visibility. And/or I’ve got cross winds and tail winds versus head winds. My regular route, which Google did not always keep pace with, is generally more safe, but much slower due to multiple stop signs and slightly longer route.

    So again we are dealing with preferences. Does Google wish to favor quickest route choices or safest (often slowest) choices for this feature? I’m curious.

  8. Ghost Rider

    I just tried it with my route, and the route itself was fairly similar….I didn’t expect it to match because I’ve tailored my route over the years. What I was surprised to see were a couple of odd glitches (go up one block, U-turn and double back? No thanks) and the fact that the turn-by-turn directions didn’t even come close to matching what was in the map window.

  9. Jamey

    Except for the part about how it totally sucks (sends me the wrong way up one-way streets; won’t let drag-and-drop select an alternate route without leaving the previous route on the map; etc), GoogleBikeMaps is amazing…ish.

  10. NoSho

    Google doesn’t have the bike paths in my town in their database. I wonder what it would take to get them to add that…

  11. Mari Lynch

    I second what Ghost Rider said: let’s flood Google with correx and alternate routes so their bike direx become really great.

    Writing bike tips myself for the First 100 Charter Participants in Monterey County’s HER Helmet Thursdays (a project of http://www.BicyclingMonterey.com ), I know Google’s task isn’t as easy as it might seem. Biking a familiar route is much easier than sitting at a computer keyboard and trying to recall identifying details, one-way streets, wind patterns, elevation changes, neighborhood pitfalls and special pleasures that you want to pass along for the benefit of others who’d like to bike in that vicinity. And if you’re pulling together a large volume of tips in a short amount of time, it’s unrealistic to think you can immediately get them perfecto!

    So yes, let’s all help Google out so we can have a world with far more people in the bike lanes and fewer cars on the roads.

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