A petition might be a good way to show the Google Maps team just how widespread support for this feature is. PetitionOnline.com seems like a good place for it.
I’m hoping we can work together to put together a powerful, yet succinct online petition that thousands of people will sign-onto.
I was about to post the following message to the Google Maps Help Group, but I figured I wanted to first figure out exactly how much support existed for this ‘bicycle routes’ feature, and get some help in crafting an actual petition – which I wanted to refer to in my post. So, the below is not suitable, in my opinion, for a petition, but at least it covers one point of view, and may serve as a starting point.
Right now, when you map directions, the default (and sometimes only) option is ‘Drive There’, but some lucky cities, like Austin, have a ‘Take Public Transit’ option. I would love it if we could add a ‘Bike There’ option that looked at bicycle map data, and offer directions for a bicycle, using bicycle routes as much as possible.
One site that seems to accomplish this for Portland and Milwaukee is byCycle.org. Here is a sample downtown Portland bicycle route from one bike shop to another.
Notice it shows the type of path – presumably green is a better option than red.
byCycle.org appears to be dormant, but the idea is not. There are various bicycle mapping efforts of all kinds all over the U.S. – here in Austin, Boulder, etc. Bicycle commuters all over America need this functionality. America needs this functionality.
Here is a link to the PDF for the Austin Bicycle Map:
And Austin makes the bicycle route data available for download:
Google Maps already works with city governments all over the US to make Public Transit data available to the Google Maps Community – so I suspect y’all have already worked out a bunch of the logistics issues surrounding getting data feeds, updates, etc.
I think it goes without saying such a feature for Google Maps would be a boon for bicycling, and healthier, happier, more-fulfilling living here in the U.S.
Bicycling is sustainable – so Google can help push towards its sustainability goals by giving the U.S. population the tools we need to make this transition to a bicycling culture.
Here in exploding downtown Austin, Lance Armstrong has just announced a bicycle shop focused on commuting instead of sport. Bicycle blogs like BikePorltand.org are popping up in cities across the U.S. The NAHBS 08 bicycle show had manufacturing representatives declaring rising sales in commuter bicycles despite no increase in marketing for them. Gas prices continue to rise with Americans looking for alternative forms of transportation. Pollution and traffic are on the rise. And each new highway built reaches full use capacity within five years. Road rage is an everyday occurrence with more Americans spending more time in traffic every year than ever before – leaving less time for their family, for reading and learning, for meaningful democratic participation. We are starting to realize that our current way of life, with building ever-expanding suburbs further away from work and school and grocery store and family is just not workable anymore. The reality of global climate change is a real threat to U.S. national security.
The Google Maps team can be a leader in the movement to transition America to a sustainable economy, and by providing this bicycle maps feature, I think a strong argument can be made that this could become Google’s signature sustainability measure, with a bigger impact than any of its clean-energy creation efforts.
We basically want to agree on the main thrust of our arguments for this feature, and then get to the point.
Feel free to leave your own version of petition text in the comments, or make any point you wish.
I’ll try to get forums set up shortly.