Menlo Park (Global Adventures): Cyclists in 150 cities in the US can now use Google maps to plane their routes. The new feature introduced by Google gives step-by-step directions. Bike-friendly roads, trails and bike lanes show up as a new layer and are outlined directly on the map. Users can simply enter a starting point, choose a destination, and then select “Bicycling” from the drop-down menu.
Google says that the new feature has been the most requested addition to Google maps. An organization called Google Maps Bike There collected more than 50,000 signatures to endorse the addition of bicycle routes. “This new tool will open people’s eyes to the possibility and practicality of hopping on a bike and riding,” says Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists. “We know people want to ride more. We know it’s good for people and communities when they do ride more this makes it possible. It is a game-changer, especially for those short trips that are the most polluting.”
Much of the data comes from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Cyclist will appreciate that Google developed an algorithm that estimates travel times and factors in changes in elevation and even fatigue. In standard mode, the planner avoids steep climbs. Another useful feature allows cyclist to find locations where they can take a break or find repair shops along the route.
“Streets are not just for cars,” said Jim Lecinski, managing director for Google in the U.S. “This is the next move in what we think mapmaking should be.” While the bike-trip-planner will not immediately be available on cell phones and other wireless devices, Google says it is working on mobile applications.
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