On The Official Google Blog, Google has announced the addition of biking directions to Google Maps. The directions work hand in hand with the bike trail data that Google has put together for the US. A lot of work has gone into creating a vast database of available biking routes. Google has teamed up with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to compile over 12,000 miles of trails.
When selecting biking as the type of directions you want, you will be shown a new map layout. Here are some of the things you'll see:
- Dark green lines - trails with no motor vehicles
- Light green lines - streets with bike lanes
- Dashed green lines - other recommended streets
Routes are based many factors. Traffic and slopes are a big part of the algorithm. If a steep hill exists in your route, and Google feels that this won't be your most efficient route to take, it will adjust the directions accordingly. Sometimes, going four blocks out of your way will actually save you time and energy when the alternative would take you up a steep hill. Downhill slopes are also avoided when possible, since many cyclists don't like the constant breaking that's required. Google also tries to bypass busy intersections and roads for safety and time consuming reasons. No one likes waiting at a traffic light when they're on a bike.
You can try out the new biking directions by heading over to Google Maps. The biking layer can also be turned on via the "More" button.