Sunday, July 25, 2010

BCGP Makes Corrections To Google Bike Maps

A side benefit of Google Bike Directions is the addition of the "Bicycling" layer in Google Maps, which is accessible under the "More" tab in the top right hand corner. Turning this layer on puts together a mosaic of localized bike lane, route and path data to create a national bicycle facility map.

That mosaic is far from complete and the Bicycle Coalition has worked with Google Maps to make more than 100 changes. Some examples include the addition of the Pennypack Trail, Bicyclists Baltimore Pike and the majority of bike lanes in shown in New Jersey and Delaware.

Google obtained bike lane information in Philadelphia from the City and major trails information from the Rails to Trails Conservancy. But the static nature of the data plus the lack of local trail and bike lane from outside of the city compelled us to add our ground truthing knowledge to the map. We communicated with Google Maps through their "report a problem" link in the lower right hand corner. It is a way that allows anyone to suggest changes to the map. The process usually takes a month or two, in the interim Google emails you when they verify your suggested change. Another email is sent when the changes are made. Each suggested change gets a unique ID number which allows you track the problem. Report a problem also works for bike directions, so you can report the lousy route you got to get to West Chester (we'll talk about making bike directions work for you in a later article).

What's interesting to me is that you can compare what has been done in Philly with the infrastructure in other cities. So if you want to take a break from FarmVille on Facebook open up Google bike maps and explore.