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Google Maps adds biking routes for the intrepid cyclist

March 10, 2010 | 10:12 am

After a long wait and more than 50,000 signatures on an online petition, cyclists will be happy to know that Google has finally added bicycle routes to Google Maps.

Silver-lake-bikeIn Google Maps, users can now find "Bicycling" in the tool's "Get Directions" drop-down box. After choosing the option, bikers can input two addresses and find the bike route that will get them to their desired destination. Like Google Maps' other modes of transportation, the mapping tool provides turn-by-turn directions and an estimated travel time.

The new Google Maps bicycling feature is available in 150 U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City. The tool boasts over 12,000 bike trails. When users look for directions, the company's mapping algorithm weights trails more heavily than roads for safety reasons. If cities have bicycle lanes, those are also weighted more heavily than roads without them.

One of the neatest features built into the Google Maps bicycling tool is its power-exertion calculation. According to the company, biking directions "compute the effort [bicyclists] will require and the speed [they will] achieve while going uphill." Based on those calculations, the tool provides bicyclists with a route that eliminates areas that would require "an unreasonable degree of exertion."

Google said that its tool even keeps bicyclists away from busy intersections and areas where bicyclists would need to brake too often.

The new Google Maps bicycling tool is in beta, which means it might be a little buggy. Google plans to add more routes and trails to the service in the coming months.

-- Don Reisinger

Image: Biking routes in Silver Lake, Los Angele. Credit: Google

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