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Archive for March 10th, 2010

Google Bike Directions Are Now Live!

March 10, 2010 By: Peter Smith Category: Advocacy

Big day!

Today we’ve added biking directions and extensive bike trail data to Google Maps for the U.S. My team has been keeping close tabs on all the public support for biking directions that’s been steadily coming in, but we knew that when we added the feature, we wanted to do it right: we wanted to include as much bike trail data as possible, provide efficient routes, allow riders to customize their trip, make use of bike lanes, calculate rider-friendly routes that avoid big hills and customize the look of the map for cycling to encourage folks to hop on their bikes. So that’s exactly what we’ve done.

Here’s a quick little screenshot (or, go try them out now):


And here’s a quick video of how to use the bike directions:

Thanks to the Google Maps team that put together, what at first glance, appears to me to be an exceptional tool. The quick and accurate routing, the multiple route options, the drag-and-drop routing ability, and the bike route layer are all brilliant.

Thanks to all of you 51,330 (and growing) petition-signers who took the time to lend your support to the cause. I believe we helped make a difference.

Thanks to long-time editor of this site, Brandon Warga, for preventing many of my mistakes from going out the door — too bad we didn’t have him before we wrote up the petition!

Thanks to Pierre for providing the French translation of the petition.

Thank to Bibi for providing the Italian translation of the petition.

Thanks to for proving that bike directions could be done, and done very well. I can’t tell you how many comments and emails I received saying: a) why are you doing this? b) why aren’t you doing this yourself? c) this can’t be done, d) this should not be done, e) etc. It was so common we decided to add it to the FAQ — with a bit of a defiant tone. :) RideTheCity were not necessarily the first web application in the world to provide bike directions, but when I first saw RideTheCity, I was very impressed — and it made myself and others hopeful that Google would eventually follow suit.

Thanks to the many people over the past couple of years who said, “Keep it up!” — your support was often the only thing keeping us hopeful and energized. In comments, in person, through email — y’all rock!

Thanks to the myriad people, places, and policies who had some role in pushing for this feature — too many to list, of course, but off the top of my head:

  • — for making it obvious how a website could help build community and inspire us to action
  • City of Palo Alto — for allowing me to be introduced to ‘everyday cycling’ by way of bike lanes and physically-separated bike paths
  • Austin — for being an insanely cool place, with insanely cool people, and a crazy-fun place to get around on bike (and an awful elevated highway that cut downtown in half and convinced me that bikes were the best way forward :) )
  • Austin Bike People — for being insanely cool people who were enthusiastic supporters of the petition and really helped kickstart its take-off
  • Wheatsville Coop and Black Star Coop — who inspired by being living examples of ‘working together to achieve common goals’
  • Other Mapping Efforts — for pushing us all to continue to think bigger in terms of what could be possible for an online mapping tool
  • John Pucher — for an incredible presentation at Simon Fraser University that first alerted us to the existence of sophisticated bicycle mapping tools like BBBike, for inspiring us with examples and data, for imploring us to use all the tools at our disposal to turn public opinion in our favor, and for speaking out in favor of social justice and, in particular, women’s rights and the importance of appropriate bicycle infrastructure.
  • Rails to Trails Conservancy — an official provider of bike trail data to Google.
  • San Francisco Bicycle Coalition — one of the first ‘big outfits’ to talk about the petition — in this case, in their newsletter.
  • Marin County Bicycle Coalition — put us in their newsletter early on.

My deep apologies if I missed anyone!

This site will stick around and we may even continue to post occasionally.

Looking forward to tons more people being exposed to biking as a practical and fun way to get around town!

…added Rails to Trails Conservancy, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and Marin County Bicycle Coalition.