If you’re one of the 57 million Americans who ride a bike, mapping your daily commute, exploring new trails, and planning recreational rides just became a little bit easier. Google is announcing that we have added biking directions in the U.S. to Google Maps. This has been the most requested addition to Google Maps, and we’re delighted to be unveiling this new feature at the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC.
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. Just like Google pioneered with driving directions, you can click-and-drag your route to customize it as you’d like. You can also access the other features in Google Maps, such as Street View, so you can tell exactly where you might need to turn on your route or preview how wide a bike lane is, and Local Search, so you know where you can take a water break or where the bike shops are along your route. 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 color-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.
Thousands of miles of trails in the US have also been added directly onto the map. This helps cyclists better plan their routes, and can also expose the availability and convenience of bike trails to a new audience. Maybe you’re planning a trip to Seattle and notice that the Burke-Gilman trail goes right past your hotel and decide to do an afternoon bike tour of the city, or maybe you notice a trail that will make your daily bike-to-work commute safer and more scenic.
Google has partnered with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit that creates networks of trails from former rail lines, to provide information on bike trails in more than 150 cities.
“The demand for trail maps and information has never been higher, especially as more people recognize biking as a viable, inexpensive and healthy alternative to driving,” says Rails-to-Trails President Keith Laughlin. “Sharing our trail data is an exceptional way to introduce the world to what 150,000 RTC members and supporters already know—biking is the ideal way to get where you’re going. The addition of biking directions to Google Maps makes life easier for bikers, whether they are commuting to work or biking for fun, and it can introduce our network of trails to a whole new audience of cyclists-to-be.”
Visit http://maps.google.com/biking to try out this new feature. Biking directions for Google Maps is currently in Beta. We are constantly adding new trail information and encourage bikers to send feedback and route information for inclusion via our reporting tool that you can find at the bottom of the map. Biking directions is currently available on desktop versions of Google Maps for the United States, but a mobile version is planned.