US: Google has added biking directions on the US Google Maps. This has been the most requested addition to Google Maps which was unveiled at the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC. It 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. Users simply need to enter a start point and destination and select “Bicycling” from the drop-down menu. They will receive a route that is optimised for cycling, taking advantage of bike trails, bike lanes and bike-friendly streets and avoiding hilly terrain whenever possible.
Users can also click-and-drag their route to customise it as per the convenience. They can also access other features in Google Maps, such as Street View, so they can tell exactly where they might need to turn on their route or preview how wide a bike lane is and Local Search. Biking directions provides time estimates for routes based on an algorithm that takes into account the length of the route, the number of hills, fatigue over time and other variables.
The new bicycling layer for Google Maps, accessible via the “More” drop down menu at the top of the map, will display an overlay of the various bike-friendly roads and trails around town. The layer is colour-coded to show three different types of paths:
– Dark green indicates a dedicated bike-only trail,
– Light green indicates a dedicated bike lane along a road,
– Dotted green indicates roads without bike lanes but are more appropriate for biking, based on factors such as terrain, traffic, and intersections.
One can visit to try out this new feature. Biking directions for Google Maps is currently in Beta. Biking directions is currently available on desktop versions of Google Maps for the United States, but a mobile version is planned.