Google Maps now providing biking directions

It was a bit of surprise seeing a Google booth at the National Bike Summit.   They are here to announce biking directions on Google Maps. This is a nice complement to the driving, walking, and public transit directions.

The routing algorithm doesn’t shy away from routing cyclists on some main roads, like Woodward Avenue. Perhaps we can use this as another reason to make Metro Detroit’s streets more bike friendly.

One major issue: Google is showing sidepaths/wide sidewalks as legitimate bicycling facilities when they are not according to national design guidelines. This makes us think SEMCOG may have provided this data to Google. Despite our comments against doing so, SEMCOG included sidepaths/wide sidewalks as bicycle facilities maps. We’ll bring this issue up with Google.

Here’s part of the announcement from the League of American Bicyclists:

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.

Visit to try out this new feature. Biking directions for Google Maps is currently in Beta.

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5 Responses to “Google Maps now providing biking directions”

  1. John Says:

    i think the idea is great, but some of these routes aren’t ideal :-/

  2. Todd Scott Says:

    I agree with the couple times I tried it. You can modify the route to your preference by dragging the route line. You can also send comments to Google regarding alternative routes. I was just speaking with one of the engineers and this is a *very* new feature so there’s a great opportunity to improve it.

  3. Tony Says:

    I’d like to know how they are figuring the time it takes to travel? It’s definitely off. I have a 12.6 mile commute to work one way and it takes me anywhere from 45 to 55 minutes depending. I usually am riding around the 12-16 mph mark depending. Google shows it’ll take me 1hr and 10 min. I GUESS?! doing 8-10mph granny styles! sheesh, I thought I was going slow.

  4. Joel Batterman Says:

    The City of Portland uses a 10 mph “no sweat” pace as the baseline for its bicycle wayfinding system (which features an estimated time, as well as distance, to various destinations). Sounds like Google may use a similar average.

    No need to be an athlete to commute by bike.

  5. Correcting bicycle facilities on Google Maps | Says:

    […] Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Google has added bicycle directions to Google Maps. […]

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