Not yet released for Google Maps Mobile, Google has just released biking directions for Google Maps. However, like before with walking directions for Google Maps, Google has already announced that it will put this new and handy navigation feature into a future version of Google Maps Mobile as well. Google Biking directions which is - at the moment - available in the the U.S. only has been - according to Google - the most requested addition to Google Maps. 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 Google's 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. 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.
Biking directions for Google Maps is currently in Beta and is currently available on desktop versions of Google Maps for the United States only but Google has already confirmed that a mobile version is planned.
Cheers ~ Arne