March 10, 2010

Google Maps + Bike Trails = Awesome

Google launched their 'beta' version of biking directions today within their Google maps application. This has been a much requested and sought after feature to popular mapping destination (reports of over 50k bike signing a petition for it) and is being rolled out to 150 cities. In the past these types of roll outs excluded the Raleigh/Durham area but not this time!

I gave the feature a spin and ran a search for a route from my house to my workplace. In the past, my personal routing attempts have varied from 17 to 20 miles in an effort to avoid the busier roads. The route recommended by Google was similar to many of the routes I have taken from the house and it correctly avoided the non-bike friendly roads (18 miles). However, a couple of the roads were still a bit busy for my taste so I swapped out an alternate route and was satisfied with the result. I'll have to give a go next week (daylight savings time, baby!!).

The time estimates seem to be a bit high (my ride times: ~1hr 10min vs Google estimate: 1hr 43min) but the car estimates always seems a bit off as well. I read that they do take into account the change in elevation and traffic stoplights so this may account for some differences. This may be something that the user will have the ability to tweak with riding averages or other parameters in the future.

Another interesting thing to note is that when the biking feature is enabled the biking trails (greenways) are layered on top of the existing map. This can be extremely helpful in helping find some of the elusive greenways that I've heard about but haven't stumbled upon in my times in Raleigh.

I'm really excited about this mapping feature and it should help me plan more enjoyable routes on the weekends. Give it a spin (and go for a ride!) and let me know what you think.

1 comment:

  1. shit - ima start riding my bike now.