Google Maps already shows you how to get there. Now, they’ll show you how to “Bike There.”
Starting today, the search engine that swallowed the Earth is making it easier for cyclists to find their way around America.
The folks at Google, the ones who brought you interactive online maps and street level views from around the globe, are lending a hand to those of us who need to navigate on bicycles.
You’ll find the details in this Wired magazine piece.
When you use Google Maps to get directions from one location to another, you’ll see a little pull-down menu to the left, underneath the space for the starting point and destination of your trip. The first item in that pull-down menu says “By car.”
Click on that pull-down menu and you see three more options — “By public transit,” “Walking”…and finally, “Bicycling.”
Just to experiment, I tried mapping out the bike route I used to take to work. In less than six seconds, there it was, outlined in a thick, dark blue.
Other routes for bicycles also are marked — dark green for bike trails, light green for bike lanes, dotted green for streets that are good options for cyclists despite having no dedicated bike paths.
If you’re trying to navigate around an unfamiliar city and don’t feel like driving, don’t forget those other two routing-planning options in Google Maps — the ones labelled “Walking” and “By public transit.”
Especially if you’ve got access to Google Maps in your smartphone, this can help you find your way around just about about American city or town, and without having to hassle with bulky maps and awkward-sized guidebooks that instantly label you as a tourist.
And despite what the Wired story says, there are turn-by-turn directions listed, as well. At least, there were on my little test map.
The routing includes the estimated travel time for the marked course — hopefully not the kind of times that would be posted by Lance Armstrong or Major Taylor. The Wired story also makes the point that the map automatically seeks to route you around instead of over hills.
Bless you for that, Google!
For those of you who believe that suffering is good for the soul, the map allows you to modify the route to include hills, if you wish.
All this, coupled with San Diego’s famous sunshine, is leaving me fewer and fewer excuses for leaving my two bikes hanging forlornly in the garage!