Knowing the safest bicycle route from Point A to Point B is a natural concern, but there are other uses for providing bicycle directions on Google Maps…like getting un-lost.
It happened to me just three or so weeks ago. I went “south of the river” to an area I was not familiar with. Of course, it was dark by the time I was coming back, and I lost my way. Not only did I not know where the bike lanes were, but I didn’t even know which general direction I was supposed to be heading. I rode around for an hour or so trying to figure it out, but I eventually caved and asked for directions. Then I got lost again. Then I asked for directions again, and finally made my way back home.
If I had a “personal navigation device”—a Garmin or similar device—I would at least have been able to head in the right direction, but ideally I would have been able to get bicycle directions from wherever I was to wherever I was going.
With the upcoming version of the iPhone, and the first Android phones on their way, we should have compass and GPS capabilities available to us. This is another reason Google Maps should provide a “Bike There” feature.
The Android Community blog is covering the Google I/O Developer Conference. Check out the video below of using Google Maps Street View with the built-in compass feature of an Android-powered phone:
Walt Mossberg, tech columnist for the New York Times, reminds us that it’s possible to get driving directions from google by using simple text messaging from your cellphone, so it’s not even necessary to have one of these newer, fancier cellphones to be able to take advantage of bicycle directions on Google Maps.