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Thread: Bicycling directions on Google maps!

  1. #1
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Bicycling directions on Google maps!

    Google announced at today's National Bike Summit that they have implemented bicycle directions into their maps. Here is the link to the press release from the League of American Bicyclists. This is big news as Google has been asked for a year now to incorporate a bicycle layer into their maps. This will hopefully remove some of the barriers to making bicycling a viable transportation option for many.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Really well-researched, and incredibly helpful. :snork:

    Here's a fun example: http://tinyurl.com/yg57a48

    It turns out that the bicycling info was provided by the Rails to Trails Conservancy, so the routes are looking for any nearby bicycle facilities.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Veloise View post
    Really well-researched, and incredibly helpful. :snork:

    Here's a fun example: http://tinyurl.com/yg57a48

    It turns out that the bicycling info was provided by the Rails to Trails Conservancy, so the routes are looking for any nearby bicycle facilities.
    Erm, did Google route it down I-75?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by rcgplanner View post
    Erm, did Google route it down I-75?
    Take a look...

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Veloise View post
    Take a look...
    I think RTT has some splaining to do.
    Maybe they need to contact MDOT?
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    I think RTT has some splaining to do.
    Maybe they need to contact MDOT?
    Calm down guys, it just debuted this week. It will take awhile for other routes to be added. I plan to send Google our bicycle facility GIS files as soon as I have the time. I would advise all other agencies to do the same.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Veloise View post
    Take a look...
    Sorry I was responding on my phone last night, and I guess Google hasn't updated their mobile application yet with the bicycling layer. I saw it this morning, interesting route, haha.

    In all seriousness, I agree with jmello. This is still in beta and it will take a while to iron out all of the kinks. This has already been educational for me as the Google maps showed me a much safer (less traffic) route to work. I plan on testing the route in the next few weeks.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    Calm down guys, it just debuted this week. It will take awhile for other routes to be added. I plan to send Google our bicycle facility GIS files as soon as I have the time. I would advise all other agencies to do the same.
    Apparently the routes are provided by Rails to Trails. In the example I cited, the route recommendation steers one towards the Lake Michigan ferry (and acknowledges that it operates seasonally). It also recommends riding 600 miles instead of five, but I digress.

    Some long-distance friends are discussing this on Facebook (home state listed first).

    AZ: Google Bike Maps (http://maps.google.com/biking) rolled out today. Seems to work OK for urban trips in the Phoenix metro area. Having way more fun plugging in inter-city trips (like Phoenix to Flagstaff) and seeing how each of the suggested routes would be a one-way trip to the side of a milk carton.

    Some of the roads that Google wants to send me down aren't really there - which is a Bad Thing in the middle of a very unforgiving desert. And only a few miles away is a freeway with a perfectly legal shoulder to ride on.
    Just to put things in perspective, it seems to be doing OK on recommending decent routes in the urban area, where it'll get the most use.

    That's Not Good if they're directing cyclists on sidewalks against traffic. Regardless of the extensive disclaimers, could result in some exposure for them if there's a crash.


    FL: Within Orlando, not looking too good. Finds "bike facilities" regardless of quality and at the expense of better routes. Links them together with roads I would avoid. Been testing it against my routes... ranges from not quite ideal to "what were they thinking?"

    I love Google's mapping software... the streetview and satellite are terrific resources. I hope they will improve the bike mapping, but I saw some results that make me think they've built it on the worst of cycling ignorance.

    One section of a route was clearly drawn on the sidewalks and across crosswalks where there were no bike facilities. It led the rider to a nonexistent sidepath, then down that sidewalk against traffic, then a shoulder of a 6-lane arterial, then ooops, the rider was dumped into an interchange where she would have to cross 2 lanes of high speed traffic entering a freeway. Bizarre - find the most facilities, then dump the rider into what would be an impassable obstacle for someone who "needs" facilities.

    I'm going to do a writeup on that particular route and send it to them. It was a metro area route, but mostly suburban. I've run a few in the core that are a little better, but still some odd choices. And I wonder if they can set it up to avoid steep-angle rr tracks because numerous cyclists have crashed and been injured on them. There is one that I always route people on other streets to avoid, it took me right over them when I tested one of my routes — because it chose to take a path out to that street before the tracks, rather than go a block north and take a residential road out to that street on the other side of the tracks.
    The route I planned has no bike facilities, but the roads have lower speeds and there are no extreme highway features.


    PA:
    I tried a 6-miler (my house to Emmaus) and a 50-miler (my house to Media, PA). In the 6-miler, it had me make a hairpin-right turn at the bottom of an 18 percent grade. For the 50-miler, it gave me the option of going slightly out of my way to ride on a rail trail. It chose roads I know to be less desirable than the routes I use in that area.
    If anyone can make continuous improvements, it's Google.

    CA: Currently, they lump facilities and terrain and traffic together, and the route selection algorithm prefers more, less, and less, respectively. I suggested (a few years ago when this was under initial development and open to internal suggestions) that they separate those three preferences. That wouldn't complicate the algorithm at all, but it would clutter the user interface. This is really pretty good for a first release, and perhaps they'll find a good way to expose those preference settings in a later version.

    My favorite commute route takes me the entire length of Foothill Expressway, an excellent place to cover distance on a road bike, with few intersections, excellent pavement, and good sight lines. But it carries lots of traffic and has a 45mph speed limit. The algorithm routed me instead via a hodge-podge of neighborhood streets and multi-use paths, on which I would never be able to sustain a high enough cruise speed for long enough to get me to work in a useful amount of time. So if I were to depend upon this suggestion, I would actually be discouraged from riding to the office.

    UT: I tested my 2.3 mi commute. The way I go has 7 turns and two stop signs, all on 2 lane 25mph residential streets The way they chose has 16 turns and one stop sign, and stair-steps through the neighborhoods. By comparison, the pedestrian route has 5 turns, goes down a big hill and back up and includes several blocks past a gravel pit where there is no shoulder or sidewalk. (they warn that they don't know about sidewalks). And the car route goes down and up a steep hill and back up. All routes cover the same 2.3 miles.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The moral? Check your favorite routes, and send Google some comments.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Woolley's avatar
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    I look forward to the idea, but I think bicycle infrastructure can get neglected and change dramatically over short to long periods. I think it would be hard to implement, be very costly and downright dangerous in some parts.

    There is a website based on Google Maps API where you can check out and upload some bicycle tracks, but I do not remember the name. I currently use Motion X GPS on my iPhone that is mounted on my bike.

    Works well, fairly accurate. Can play music, track your path, take pictures (geotagged), distance, speed, average, compass, waypoints, email your track, etc. Export to Google Earth (.kmz), gpx* and Facebook.

    It has maps also, and you don't need internet or wifi access because the maps are cached. I think it uses Bing maps off memory.

    Track Download Example: Sunsetride.kmz


    We architects and urban planners aren't the visible symbols of oppression, like the military or the police. We're more sophisticated, more educated, and more socially conscious. We're the soft cops.- Robert Goodman, After the Planners My Planning Forumino

  10. #10
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    Calm down guys, it just debuted this week. It will take awhile for other routes to be added. I plan to send Google our bicycle facility GIS files as soon as I have the time. I would advise all other agencies to do the same.
    Do you have a particular contact at Google you could PM me? I would like to send them a bunch of things, including better street centerline data, non-motorized facilities, and parks.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Submit corrections via Traillink

    Today on Morning Edition:
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/s...&sc=fbc&sc=fbc

    I've done some digging and discovered that Google's advice is based on data submissions from Rails-to-Trails, which explains why it tries to route a UP cyclist on a 600-mile joyride when there's a perfectly good six-mile shortcut right there.
    RtT offers Traillink as the preferred method of adding and correcting trails. Here's one I added.
    http://www.traillink.com/viewtrail.aspx?AcctID=6397093

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by BrianVDB View post
    Do you have a particular contact at Google you could PM me? I would like to send them a bunch of things, including better street centerline data, non-motorized facilities, and parks.
    We are completely swamped right now. I have not gotten down to this task yet. I will let you know when I move this forward.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    We are completely swamped right now. I have not gotten down to this task yet. I will let you know when I move this forward.
    Sounds good, thanks. It will be good information for you to have.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Doohickie's avatar
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    It is getting better. One thing everyone can do to help is when you find a really odd routing, right click on the map and select Report a problem and tell them what's wrong. The west side of Fort Worth is pretty well sorted out already based on inputs from me and a few other cyclists here. They even included a little cut-through on a dirt path to get from a road that doesn't cross a train track to a road that does (Step 9 on this map), once I pointed out that many cyclists follow the route. It takes about 2 months for them to investigate a problem report and implement a change. Not bad, considering how proplem reports are handled in industry so far as I have seen.

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