Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Google Maps adds biking directions

Google logo As yet it’s only in the US, but as of March 10th Google Maps has included biking directions and bike trail data. 

It’s been a while in coming – there was a 50,000+ signature petition to get bike routes included.  Google says it wanted to be sure it was right before launching, which meant allowing riders to customise their trip, making use of bike lanes, calculating rider-friendly routes that avoid big hills and including as much bike trail data as possible. 

The net result is that the biking directions can help find a convenient and efficient route that makes use of dedicated bike trails or lanes and avoids hills whenever possible.  Time estimates are based on a set of variables accounting for the type of road, terrain and turns over the ride.

There are more than 12,000 miles of trails included in biking directions and outlined directly on the map.  There is also data on bike lanes and recommended streets for 150 cities across the US.

A great move from Google.  One of requirements before they launched was to ‘customise the look of the map for cycling to encourage folks to hop on their bikes’.  That’s going above and beyond providing the raw biking data that would have satisfied the petitioners.  It’s the sort of positive nudge towards biking that can encourage people to have a go and become greener citizens.

No precise information as to what countries will be included next, but http://googlemapsbikethere.org/ says ‘hopefully’ Canada, Mexico, France, Italy, the rest of Europe and the rest of the world.

© The Green IT Review

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