Google Maps Bicycling Directions

After years of repeated requests, Google has added cycling routes to Google Maps. After experimenting for a bit, I found that it doesn’t always give the best routes, but it’s pretty good for an automated system. I think they probably optimized it for shorter rides, if you try to get directions for longer rides it gives you an unreasonable number of turns, probably to keep the overall distance shorter. At least it supports alternative routes and waypoints, like the driving directions, so it’s pretty easy to fine tune the directions to keep you on decent roads. It also assumes a pretty low average speed from a long distance cyclists’ viewpoint, but it’s probably in line with recreational riders.

Here’s what it came up with for a short coffee-after-lunch ride in Worcester. There’s an embeddable widget that gives just bike directions as well:

There’s a pretty good blog post from one of the developers with the details about how routes are calculated, and they’re soliciting feedback to improve directions. I’d like to see bicycling directions integrated into the public transit directions.

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