Thursday, July 1, 2010

Google Map Routes: Public and Private Transportation... and Now Bicycles Get Mapped!

In the United States, designated bike lanes and a growing bike culture have started to garner mainstream attention. And bicyclists now have a giant ally—Google.

At the 10th Annual American Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. in March 2010, Google announced their maps feature will include bike routes for 150 U.S. cities. The feature includes 15,000 miles of off-street bike trails.

Google made the decision after receiving a petition with more than 50,000 signatures for bike routes to be added to its maps. Google Maps introduced driving directions in 2005, and in 2007 the site added transit routes. Pedestrian navigation followed a year later. Now, it’s the bikers’ turn.

Online tools for mapping bike routes have existed for years, such as, which also points out bike shops along your route. But with an organization as enormous as Google collating bike-friendly travel information, two-wheel enthusiasts hope city planners and politicians will take note and improve bicycling conditions across the United States.

The League of American Bicyclists, who sponsored the American Bike Summit, hopes the Google feature will encourage wary would-be cyclists to get on the road, give more seasoned bikers the respect they deserve, and curb unnecessary motorist pollution by highlighting safe routes:
  • Dark green indicates a dedicated bike-only trail,
  • Light green indicates a dedicated bike lane along a road
  • Dashed green indicates roads that are designated as preferred for bicycling but without dedicated lanes

Eventually they will map the bike routes in Australia, but do you think it would be as successful as in the US?

Perhaps monitoring the preference that people have via Google can provide us with accurate data on which modes of transport people use, giving city planners the supporting information they need to justify a particular concept in relation to transportation.

Planning for people is the most important thing in designing communitites - but planning AROUND the existing inhabitants of a community is the key to creating great places.

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