Google is offering a cycling option for users of its map service. If you ask Google for directions in some US cities from today you can choose "bicycling" as an option, alongside "by car", "walking" or "by public transport". The company said it had been the most requested feature since the map site launched. The League of …
Let's hope they can get the concept of Roman Roads. "Heck, it's a road innit"? Err, no. The A5 is in places, nice and straight. Dual carriageway even. Round here, the Roman roads are barely a traceable alignment across a field!
The mind boggles ...
I've been riding a bicycle my entire life (when it makes sense). Never in that roughly half century have I ever needed a fucking MAP, much less a computer, to help me along my way. What kind of idiots are we breeding these days, anyway?
 And once in a while when it doesn't ... I used to commute from Skylonda & the Port of Redwood City on a bicycle ... going to work was a breeze, getting home was a bitch :-)
:: shakes fist::
Maybe some people would need a fucking MAP for cycling, for similar reasons as I needed a fucking MAP to walk/cycle around this city where I've recently moved to. The streets are like a maze, so it's not always obvious which is the quickest route to the shops, work, etc.
Not everybody is as amazing as you, you know.
Re ::shakes head::
Well you know what? I started cycling last year and I bought a map produced by a local cycle advocacy group and it has been invaluable -- it highlights all the hidden back-street cut-throughs that aren't signposted (cos they're not suitable for cars), it highlights all the cycle lanes and dedicated cycle paths that you might miss if you were cycling up a parallel street instead.
It even makes it clear when a footpath isn't open to bikes (information sadly missing from most maps)... or it did before the council changed a lot of routes.
Well I for one can't navigate without a map when I cycle somewhere I've never been before. How can you know a route to an address you've never been to before? Talk sense.
Skywoods to Red Wood hmmm... let me guess... hmm... CA84?
So your journey's along one road? I see why you dont need a map.
Now try and get to Linaria Way, Laderas without a map. oh you don't know where that is?
Some people actually relocate from time to time. Or cycle further than 10 miles, which seems to be your limit in Califor-nigh-ay. Others actually go on cycling holidays with a tent.
I grew up on The Peninsula. I don't need a map there.
The Wife and I often stay in a friend's guest house on La Mesa Drive when she's giving seminars at Portola Valley Equestrian Center, just across 280 from the Laderas neighborhood :-)
Never eat at Mike's Cafe, in that little shopping center on Alpine Road. We decided to try it one warm evening, because of that little outdoor patio in the breezeway between the cafe and the market. The food was late to the table, mostly overcooked, and one of our party was served a hamburger with a moldy bun.
To the rest of you, you are really insecure, aren't you? Yes of course I look at a map before I go somewhere new, but I memorize the route I'm going to take, and any alternates just in case. Fiddling about with electronic geegaws whilst on the go is contraindicated.
a)Never in that roughly half century have I ever needed a fucking MAP
b)Yes of course I look at a map before I go somewhere new
I dont think anyone was suggesting using google maps whilst actually riding, it is a preperation tool just like a map. Goole maps is NOT 'Sat Nav'
Its good to hear you know every road on The Pennisula, Im guessing here but are you a 911 responder or a cab driver?
No contradiction. See where I typed "to help me along my way"? Do you understand how that modifies things a trifle? English is a very precise language, when used precisely.
The fizz-heads using google to plan their route will be using it "like sat-nav" on their cell phones. I see it regularly here in Sonoma. It's amazing how many people have troubles finding the Mission when they are visiting the Barracks & vice-versa (they are across the street from each other).
Not 911 or cab driver ... I was a back-country linesman for $TELCO in the Bay Area and Mendocino and Humboldt counties. If it's between Hwy 1 and Interstate 5 east/west, and roughly Salinas and Eureka north/south, I probably know where it is. It's just a happy coincidence that (whoever) came up with Laderas, a place I spend probably three weeks a year at ;-)
UK Streetview update due Thursday 11Mar2010
Searching Google News for Streetview shows several of the newspaper sites are reporting an impending release of new Streetview imagery for the UK this Thursday. First time an advance notice has been given?
They usually give advance warning of updates. They don't give advance warning of actually collecting the images.
Some cycling map design issues that cars don't need to worry about...
I need a cycling map that gives a statistical estimate of my chances of living long enough to get to my destination based on which roads the map sends me down. So an option to optimize for speed of trip versa better probability of survival if a choose a longer way around would be a useful feature.
Its all very well saying I can cycle down a giving road, thats different from the danger of cycling down some roads. This is a far bigger issue for cyclists than it is for cars as cyclists are some what more exposed to the dangers of being crushed by a car or a lorry.
Its an interesting feature but one that is harder to do well than just a car map. I especially like the highlighting of bike trails unfortunately thats only for weekend cycling for most people and of no use cycling to work in heavy city traffic.
As for “feature is in beta and users should use it with caution and report any routes which are unsuitable” ... that makes a lot of sense (and I see they are covering themselves for sending people down potentially dangerous roads). It would be better if users could give a safety vote out of say 10 for each time they take a trip marked out on the map, which is then uploaded back to map service, because then over time the maps will build up a graded road safety percentage for each road. This graded road information could then be used to colour code all roads and it could also be used to optimize map route searches based on avoiding the worst roads if the user chooses.
As long as the voting was anonymous then its a good service. (The problem is the usual stunt is to require login thereby allowing corporate spying on user activities in this case spying in their movements which is just so wrong. But if it was anonymous then its very useful for road safety which would encourage me to use the service).
but i'd like to ad time of day to the report on safety as that can make a big difference.
No need to wait for the UK
No need to wait for Google to get round to covering the UK for cycling - some guys from the Cambridge Cycling Campaign already have a route planner covering most of the UK (using OpenStreetMap for the underlying maps).
And holland's even better
(well, little surprise there:) The dutch cyclists' league has a great door-to-door cycle route planner, with choices for touristic or speedy etc. It's based of course on the extensive cycling infrastructure there, with lots of road signs only for bikes: http://www.fietsersbond.nl/fietsrouteplanner/
In the UK we have ...
In the UK we have http://www.cyclestreets.net/
There's already a production system for this
In the UK, www.cyclestreets.net is already in place, and has an excellent cycle-oriented routing engine that gives options of the level of traffic you can manage and factors in the gradient profile of the route to optimise it & estimate timing. It's based on openstreetmap/opencyclemap data, which for cycling in the UK is of *far* better quality than Google's mapping.
10/10 for effort
cyclestreets is very impressive. Unfortunately the mapping is a long way short of complete, when it's complete it will be an excelent service. More than 50% of my address searches on there failed and there really is no point in using a route planning service that can't find addresses.
Sometimes the road is on the map, but the address isn't in the database. Sometimes the road isn't even on the map. It's a bit silly that the map seems to have a fairly comprehensive database of cycling rights of way, but is missing an awful lot of roads. I've just asked it to calculate a route I ride regularly and was surprised by some of it's routing decisions, until I noticed that a couple of pretty important roads are missing. Now it's not that these are A roads or anything, but people travelling in the area use both of them as major routes. Both roads act as link road between major routes and change a couple of miles cycling into a few hundred yards. One of them also does a very good job of keeping you clear of a very busy junction between a motorway, an A road and a B road. When you're driving twenty miles this sort of thing is not a big deal, when you're cycling the same distance adding a few miles and a dangerous junction to your route are more significant issues.
I've made contributions to openstreetmap, not so much in the mapping but where street names have been missing or often just plain wrong. So you can't accuse me of leeching off the site and expecting too much, but if I want to plan a route from A to B a service that hasn't got a clue where A or B are is pretty pointless.
Better to pop onto multimap or bing and plan your own route on the OS maps conveniently provided there.
New to Google perhaps, but old hat at ViaMichelin
Those cheese-eating surrender monkeys at Michelin have been offering a bicycle option on their route finder (viamichelin.com) for ages. It does a pretty good job, but doesn't seem to know about the Sustrans network, which is a shame.
Cycling specific considerations
@MinionZero: try http://www.cyclestreets.net/, they have a journey planner which includes options such as "balanced route", "fastest route", "quietest route" and includes a hostility rating! Though aparently my 9 mile commute to work is "very hostile" and should take me 53 minutes, in practice it takes 35 and I'm not dead yet.
The hardest thing about a cycle route planner is knowing the type of cyclist. Some pootle along on an old bike laden with shopping baskets. Some are clad in lycra and riding racing bikes, but don't like pot-holes. Others may be riding mountain bikes and not mind the occasional bumpy track or even prefer a bit of bridleway to a road. Some are confident overtaking traffic, while others might not be. Some are plain stupid and don't pay any regard to any kind of road traffic laws. Time of day and weather conditions can make much more of a difference to journey times and your choice of route when you're on a bike to in a car.
So if they're going to make a cycle route planner that's any good, good luck to them...!
This could be a good thing.
The red-light jumping tag is, well, stupid. The things stopping most motorist jumping lights are cameras, worrying that their paintwork might get scratched and the fact that there is zero chance of being crushed/killed whilst waiting for the lights to turn green. Traffic lights are a polluted and risky environment for cyclist, you are surrounded by unaware, careless, impatient and distracted drivers sitting in big overpowered dirty sledgehammers that most of them can’t control properly or even accurately estimate how much room they need on the road.
MinionZero has some good points but rating what a diehard "tester" would see as being perfectly rideable/fast and what Joe Public would probably consider an “idiot/motorist-ridden-deathtrack” is probably difficult.
Unlike jake I use and have used maps a lot to find my way when riding. When you do more than a 100 km on a new route you need maps. OK when I'm doing my local favourites I don't lose my way but when I'm doing a bit of col-storming (well winching my way up them anyway) I can't possibly know the way and especially not any bikeable sections that are not signposted for motorists.
Pity they didn’t trial this in Europe first. There is probably a lot more demand for it here and it would make a fairer test with more riders, experience and feedback to make the feature usable. There are far more facilities for bikes plus general awareness of cyclists and an understanding of the problems riders face (in this instance I don’t include the UK as part of Europe because in terms of transport policies, driver skills and road usability Britain seems to be 30 years behind everywhere else on the Eurasian Peninsula).
I would prefer it if they just made it less shit overall
Quote: "The service might come to the UK and Europe one day, although the ad giant's map service here still struggles with footpaths, byways, bridleways and other rights of ways."
Google maps can 't even cope with UK Post Codes, never mind that lot. Countless times it has sent me to the wrong place by more than a significant margin. It also puts my girlfriend's work place about half a km away from its actual location. While the features like Street view etc are good, the actual basic functionality is mediocre crap.
US option to walk?
Isn't walking in the US taken as a sign of insanity or something? Maybe a segway-mode might be more appropriate.
BBC News reported this being used around various British monuments ages ago... surely El Reg hasn't been beaten to the punch on a Google Streetview-related article has it?
with Scotland's access laws - any track, trail or path on the ground maybe used for cycling (as well as walking and horse riding) this could be a very useful route finding tool for offroad rides across scotland.
and for those who dont need a map to cycle .. you have never been in the Cairngorms or Highlands riding have you?
"you have never been in the Cairngorms or Highlands riding have you?"
Yep, sure have. And all over the Dales, most of the moors, I did the Pennine Way a couple times, too. I spent a year of Primary School at Bude (lived in Poughill ... the track along the cliffs from Northcott Mouth to Bude's Strand & school was fun on a bike, I did it both ways nearly every day. The locals thought I was a nutter ... I had brought my mountain bike from California). Most of my High School days were in Harrogate, and my first two years of Uni at Kings College. I did a lot of bicycling around the the British Isles. Loved every minute of it :-)
Rights of Way?
Google maps, and to be fair a lot of other digital maps, are apalling on motor vehicle rights of way, what chance to they have on cycling rights of way? Google and TomTom both try to make you drive along a dirt track near my home that is not a public right of way.
In Belgium we already have http://www.fietsnet.be/routeplanner/default.aspx for quite some time. Very nice... uses Google maps :)
Can be done right
The google effort doesn't work very well yet - select 'by foot' here and it won't let you use any bridges - it insists you go miles out of your way to take the foot ferry across the harbour.
www.cyclevancouver.ubc.ca uses google data but also knows about roads with cycle lanes, cycle friendly 'major road avoiding' routes and best of all - it can calculate routes based on a maximum hill gradient.
Would be helpful, if it had good data
It seems like it's just "avoiding highways". I just had it try to map a route between two points I've travelled before, and it did a crap job. It took all car-servicable streets, which is fine, but there are bike paths that cut over a mile off the trip. They don't have bike paths in the database.
I don't need GMaps to tell me how to get there on roads. It's finding the 2 foot wide shortcuts that the city has built through neighborhood parks that's a challenge.
It'd be nice if they allowed us to report new routes also, in addition to ones that are unsuitable.
I tried it. It suggested a route that involves an illegal left turn in one direction, and then going the wrong way down a one-way street in the other. It's actually a good way to go. But it seemed that if Google "officially" condones illegal traffic manoeuvres on bike, it can only lead to trouble.
Appears no bike routes
Good effort. In my test the route chosen for the bike was more suitable than the default car route. Good effort.
However, the bike routes seem to not be present. I would have hoped they would have put in the routes prior to the release. For instance in my test route, most of the trip can be done on dedicated hike/bike routes rather than the road. None of these were present.
"...and jump that red light"
You feel 'jumping' red lights will destroy the environment? Cycling *may* help slow (wo)man's exploitive consumption of nature's ability to absorb [the same abuse], and you head 'an' article with "...and jump that red light"..?! When will we all grow up?
Potentially good idea, but...
For now, it is not good yet.
I bike to work everyday here in Merka, and just tested the new "bike" option. There are two main possible routes for me:
- a 1.5 mile one that is straight almost all along, has a terribly steep section, on a part of road the road that is a deathtrap for anything not motorized (a mess of exits and entrances to highway); I did that one once only, to see if it would be that bad... Had to push the bike on the sidewalk during the very steep and dangerous part, took about 15-20 minutes total from home to work.
- a 1.9 mile one, which has way less steep hills, and much calmer streets. It snakes around a bit, but it takes me 10 minutes from door to door. That's the one I use every day.
Guess which one Google Maps picked...
The wrong idea?
"step-by-step bicycling directions"
Uhh - did someone steal the wheels?
BBBike @ World
You may also try BBBike @ world, a cycle route planner for more than 125 cities around the world. It use OpenStreetMap for the underlying maps: