Friday, July 30, 2010

Making Google Bike Directions Work For You

In March Google Bike Directions generated a lot a buzz, after all a petition to implement a bike there application generated more than 51,000 thousand signatures. The petition is still active as now the target is to expand beyond the US.

But the lack of good road data, differing levels of traffic tolerance and frankly a lack of good bicycle facilities has meant that the application often generates less than ideal routes. This has resulted in some disappointment and even a little bit of backlash.

We too have received many emails complaining about directions especially in the suburbs, Fortunately with a little more effort you can make the Google Bike Directions work for you on streets that you would prefer to take.

The key is using three tools included Bike Directions. One is using Street View to preview your ride and the another is the drag function which lets you change your route by simply dragging the route line. The third is actually reporting unsuitable road segments to Google.

For our example we keyed in a Narberth to Haverford College route, Google found the most direct route via Montgomery Avenue. A road with 4 lanes, no shoulders and high travel speeds. We were able to replace that route with a slightly longer (~2 minutes) but much quieter route.

Music Credit - Bicycle Boogie: Bob Gaddy & His Alley Cats