Google Adds “By Bike” To Google Maps

Written by Boston Biker on Mar 10

Swwwwweeeeeet!

Whenever I meet someone who finds out that I work on the directions team for Google Maps, the first question I’m asked is often “So when’s Google Maps going to add biking directions?” We’re big biking fans too, so we’ve been itching to give you a concrete answer. I don’t want to keep the good news a secret any longer, so the answer is: right now!

Today we’ve added biking directions and extensive bike trail data to Google Maps for the U.S. My team has been keeping close tabs on all the public support for biking directions that’s been steadily coming in, but we knew that when we added the feature, we wanted to do it right: we wanted to include as much bike trail data as possible, provide efficient routes, allow riders to customize their trip, make use of bike lanes, calculate rider-friendly routes that avoid big hills and customize the look of the map for cycling to encourage folks to hop on their bikes. So that’s exactly what we’ve done.

Let’s say you want to bike to work, or maybe you want to drive less and spend more time outdoors. Biking directions can help you find a convenient and efficient route that makes use of dedicated bike trails or lanes and avoids hills whenever possible. To find biking directions, select “Bicycling” from the drop-down menu when you do a directions search:

Read more here

* Dark green indicates a dedicated bike-only trail;
* Light green indicates a dedicated bike lane along a road;
* Dashed green indicates roads that are designated as preferred for bicycling, but without dedicated lanes

This is actually pretty awesome, and you can help it get better by using the report a problem link (bottom right of the map), basically this is what Boston has needed for a long time, a dynamic, user editable bike map of the city that can be collaborated on by thousands of bikers at all hours of the day and night.

Just to be silly I wanted to see what this could do so I typed in Boston to Ohio and low and behold in a mere 3 days and 11 hours google say I could be enjoying the midwest…As this grows it could be a boon to bike riders the world over.


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Posted in fun, routes | 15 Comments »


15 Responses to “Google Adds “By Bike” To Google Maps”

  1. By cyclostat on Mar 10, 2010 | Reply

    (!!!!!) I am so happy.

    I’ve already run into some problems, but knowing google, they’ll fix it in a few days. I tried the somerville to walden route, and it pointed me through what looks like a mountain biking trail.

    Any way we can get little blue lines (or something) for un-paved trails?

  2. By Kevin F on Mar 10, 2010 | Reply

    I didn’t think bikes were allowed in the Public Garden?

  3. By mtalinm on Mar 10, 2010 | Reply

    if you zoom out to a certain level you get a pretty good picture of where the bike paths are. see http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=158+Phillips+Brooks+Rd,+Westwood,+Norfolk,+Massachusetts+02090&ll=42.330124,-72.229614&spn=3.480161,3.295898&z=9&lci=bike

  4. By cyclostat on Mar 11, 2010 | Reply

    Wow, thanks for contributing mtalinm.

  5. By Ray on Mar 11, 2010 | Reply

    @cyclostat the “mountain biking” trail is the Reformatory Branch Trail, an extension of the Minuteman Bike Path. It is a converted railroad trail, so the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy had it on their maps.

    Link

    I take my road bike with 32mm tires on there, or a cyclocross bike but it has some deep sandy patches, with lots of whoop-de-doos from dirt bikes, and there a real mud-boggy section and a very rocky section when you get close to Concord. It’s a lot of fun, quiet, and pretty and eliminates almost all bike traffic, especially now, with the deep mud. It’s challenging with 28s, I can’t imagine 23s or other such race-oriented silliness in there.

    It is NOT a good route to Walden Pond.

    Didja report the problem to Google Maps?
    If you aren’t part of the solution…

  6. By cyclostat on Mar 11, 2010 | Reply

    @Ray: I’m aware of the path’s name, it is labeled on the map. I know that it’s not a good way to Walden, and yes I reported it to google maps before commenting.

    Thanks for your help and information!

    The pond you’re referring to, Walden Pond, is where Thoreau went to write and escape from modern society. I like to take my road bike with 23mm tires there, or sometimes my 21mm tires. There’s a real wet part in the middle where the water is, but it’s fun, quiet and a great place to relax. It can be challenging if you don’t wear a bathing suit, but I can’t imagine wearing leather there.

    It is NOT a good place to wear leather pants.

    Have you considered bringing a bathing suit?
    If you’re not part of the solution…..

  7. By Confused Cyclist on Mar 13, 2010 | Reply

    Sweet?

    Did you check the labeling for the streets in the map you posted?

    1). Bicycling is prohibited in the Public Garden (signs at all entrances prominently point this out).

    2). Bike-only trail on Marlborough Street?

    3). Bike lanes on Charles Street?

    4). Bike-only trail on Blossom Street?

    5). Bike lanes on Berkeley Street?

    If you actually look at the map you’ll see that the majority of streets in Boston are mislabeled.

    I think it’s rather telling that elite cyclists, claiming to want to expand the number of people who bike in the city, blindly praise Google for completely mislabeling bike lanes and trails in Boston. Of course, these same elite cyclists then offer us the option of doing Google’s work by correcting the vast number of mistakes on Google’s own maps.

    Where’s MassBike on this? Oh yes, MassBike was quoted in the Globe as saying the route markings were “awesome!”.

    Where’s Boston’s Bike Czar? She took a look at the bike lane indicators and proclaimed it “great!”.

    We need some organizations and leaders who care about ALL cyclists. This drinking the Google coolaid isn’t going to help foster cycling in Boston.

  8. By Boston Biker on Mar 13, 2010 | Reply

    confused: you are so right, we wouldn’t want to build some kind of system by which new cyclists could easily get directions for biking around town, and we certainly wouldn’t want to create a system that can be improved by user suggestions

    (I assume you have not submitted any of the errors you found above, because that would make the resource better and as we stated above this might lead to new cyclists riding)

    I also find your suggestion that local state advocates and government workers are somehow in charge of what Google does a great argument, mostly because it makes so much sense.

    ps. in case you are confused this is sarcasm. I am truly amazed that you find this a negative development, are you the kind of person that would complain about a bag of money that fell into your lap, because you had to sort the cash into little piles before it was easily countable? Sheesh.

  9. By Confused Cyclist on Mar 13, 2010 | Reply

    Boston Biker,

    Your sarcasm will do wonders to promote biking in Boston. Congratulations.

    If you read your article you’ll see that you wrote about Google labeling bike paths and bike lanes. You not only provided a detailed explanation of what Google’s color scheme indicated, you also posted in the article a great big map of downtown Boston to show how Google marked those streets. And you didn’t even bother to check to see if the information on the map you posted was correct!

    My comments about MassBike and Boston’s Bike Czar did not say that they should tell Google what to do. But what those people can do is use their positions, access and influence as leverage with Google. A simple comment to the press such as “this is a development in the right direction, but there are some issues with errors that need to be addressed immediately” would have been very helpful to cyclists (current and future). Such leverage goes a long way with companies such as Google.

    I’m baffled as to why you think that Google, a company that brought in over $20 BILLION in revenues last year, should be praised for rolling out a specific bike product that needs to be corrected by the end users (and I might mention Google makes money from it’s bike map product). Would you praise Rubel for publishing and selling a bike map with vast amounts of incorrect information simply because bikers can edit the map to their liking with White Out and a highlighter?

    Rolling out a product that leads new cyclists to believe that bike lanes and bike paths exist where in fact they don’t is not helpful.

    Google Bike Maps is not Wikipedia. Wikipedia started with a blank slate and let users add as they saw fit, and Wikipedia is a non-profit organization. Google, however, is a for-profit company raking in tens of billions of dollars a year and can well afford to correct their own mistakes.

    And by the way, I have submitted some corrections to Google and requested they email me when they have a response. I did this on Day 1 of the rollout and have yet to hear back from them.

    I think a good question to ask of Google is “Who provided the bike lane, bike path/trail, and safe streets for biking information?”.

  10. By Boston Biker on Mar 13, 2010 | Reply

    If you feel that strongly about it, perhaps you shouldn’t use it.

    Google should be praised for putting biking directions on the same level as car driving directions. It is one of the first steps on the way to making biking a regular acceptable choice of transportation for the masses.

    I am not sure you aware of this but to this day Google’s driving directions (for cars) are chock full of errors, and until recently you were unable to let them know about it. the report errors thing is relatively new, and I am happy it is going to be applied to biking directions as well.

    Don’t bitch about Google making money, they give away all their services to you free of charge, what you think they are running a charity over there? Honestly you can search the entire internet, get free email, get directions by bike/car/walking, and a million other things and you are whining because when the rolled out bike directions for 150 cities they missed a couple streets. What other company do you know of that has the power to do all that and then give it away for free.

    Massbike and the city of boston certainly don’t have those resources, and they certainly wouldn’t be able to just give it all away for free if they did. I think you are totally missing the point here. Google is doing a great service for the bike community and all you care about is if they got it perfect or not.

    If you read the article that I liked to, or (gasp) do a google search you will find that they got their data from various non-profit groups around the country, worked with LAB, the rails to trails conservancy and others.

    I really don’t understand why you can’t see this as a good thing. Take a step back and try to encompass the vision of tools like this.

    You come off as a stodgy stick in the mud who can’t see the forest for the trees.

  11. By Confused Cyclist on Mar 13, 2010 | Reply

    First, I apologize for not being a native New Englander who aspires to nothing more than mediocrity. That is apparently what is preventing you from understanding the real issues concerns about which I’ve written. I’ve never commented negatively about Google’s bike directions. I’ve only commented negatively on their bike lane/paths/trails markings.

    Second, I’ve been very clear that Google has mislabeled a vast number of streets in Boston (without mentioning the mess they did with Brookline). We’re NOT talking a couple of streets. I initially listed five items, and then went on to point out that the majority of labeled streets in Boston are mislabeled. What’s wrong with you that makes you think I wrote something I didn’t?!?!? Your limited-capacity native New Englander mind prevents you from seeing that a handful of incorrect driving instructions for cars is not the same as large number of false labels about existing bike lanes and paths. Please try to get this into your head… a bike lane or path is not the same thing as biking directions. Those are different features of Google Bike Maps… my comments are about the labels for bike paths/lanes.

    I also never asked MassBike or the Boston Bike Czar, or any other advocacy organization, to use resources they don’t have. I only asked them to use resources they are already expending… speaking to the press. I even suggested they could have said something to the press (please note… they spoke to the press already… obviously without even checking the quality of Google’s information) like, “this is a development in the right direction, but there are some issues with errors that need to be addressed immediately” when speaking to the press. Where do you get off lying about me wanting them to run Google or tell Google what to do, or that I’m trashing their bike “directions” feature?

    You’re probably one of those dense cyclists with 23cc tires who puts the kebosh on mass transit expansion because you aren’t capable of figuring out how to get your bike across a street that has trolley tracks without falling down (hint: you cross the tracks perpendicular to, not parallel with the tracks).

    Get a life you less-than-mediocre native New Englander.

  12. By Boston Biker on Mar 13, 2010 | Reply

    I stand corrected, your wave of logic is insurmountable, you sir are the winner, I will no longer ride my bike, nor use this horrible service.

  13. By cyclostat on Mar 13, 2010 | Reply

    Hey confused cyclist,

    Don’t be a dick. Google’s philosophy is to release early, then refine and update form there. They always releases a beta version, and just take input from users.

    Yeah, the biking directions suck right now, and are near useless, but that’s the jumping off point.

    Remember google maps when Map Quest was the reigning directional service? It was awful! But then it got better.

    Wait, what’s your point again? That a beta service has bugs in it? I think we’re all in agreement here.

    Calm. Down.

  14. By Confused Cyclist on Mar 14, 2010 | Reply

    Cyclostat,

    I wasn’t commenting about directions in Google Bike Maps. That was made very clear several times.

    I really miss living in Portland, OR. They have higher standards there, and a better quality of life to show for it.

  15. By cyclostat on Mar 15, 2010 | Reply

    “I wasn’t commenting about directions in Google Bike Maps.”

    -First post is about mislabeled street names, then about comments on google bike maps

    -Second post, “Google Bike Maps is not Wikipedia. Wikipedia started with a blank slate and let users add as they saw fit, and Wikipedia is a non-profit organization. Google, however, is a for-profit company raking in tens of billions of dollars a year and can well afford to correct their own mistakes.”

    -Third post “Second, I’ve been very clear that Google has mislabeled a vast number of streets in Boston (without mentioning the mess they did with Brookline). We’re NOT talking a couple of streets. I initially listed five items, and then went on to point out that the majority of labeled streets in Boston are mislabeled. What’s wrong with you that makes you think I wrote something I didn’t?!?!? ”

    It seems like your primary complaint was about google, and your secondary complaint was about Mass Bike and recorded comments about google maps. You can make the argument that you really meant one more than the other, but both are there.

    Don’t obscure your point by oversimplifying just when it is convenient to you.

    Read your own goddamn posts and when you pick fights, keep your criticisms consistent.

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