Google Maps Bike There…for a safer, healthier, happier world. :-)


GMaps API Now Has Bike Directions and Elevation Profiles

March 25, 2010 By: Peter Smith Category: Advocacy

If you’re into making your own Google Maps (i.e. if you’re a nerd/programmer), this post may be of interest to you.

A sample application might be if you wanted to find the nearest bike shop, or bar, or both, on your bike ride home — now it’s possible to do that with the Google Maps v3 API.

On March 10, the same day that Google announced bike directions for the US, they also released the API update.

Then, just a couple of days ago, on March 23, Google released an API  update that allows developers to get access to elevation data for any point on the globe (not just the US, and includes ocean depths, shown as negative elevations). Now, bike directions already take into account elevations, but it’s always good to have access to the raw data — there’s no telling what kind of creative ways you can use Google Maps to help us travel and live smarter and better.

In Google’s words:

Overall, we’re hoping the Elevation service will help you build higher-quality applications catered towards hiking, biking, mobile positioning, and low resolution surveying.

Here’s a screenshot of their blog post which shows profile data for Lombard Street in San Francisco:


Happy hacking!

p.s. I’m late on this, but StreetFilms just held a celebration/fundraiser here in SF tonight — I missed it as I’m a bit germy at the moment, but I do have my own personal earmark set aside for them. It’s not much, but it’s something, and every bit will help. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a StreetFilm might be worth a million words. Like bike directions on Google Maps, I think that StreetFilms will continue to be felt in increasingly wider circles, in more manifold ways. They’re just that good.


StreetFilms has a number of ways you can help support the cause — straight donations, some with t-shirt and DVD gifts, sponsorship packages, you name it.

And if you’ve tried to watch some StreetFilms on your iPhone only to be thwarted by the lack of Flash, you might be able to find your film over on the StreetFilms Youtube Channel. Mobile advocacy — gotta love it! :)

1 Comments to “GMaps API Now Has Bike Directions and Elevation Profiles”

  1. Hi Peter,

    BBBike can display the elevation profile of a bicycle route as well. You can set your search preferences to avoid hills if possible ;-) Here are 2 screen shots of a route in San Francisco, with and without elevation optimization:

    Unfortunately, the OpenStreetMap data contains few elevation information so it does not work well for some cities.


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