Ride Boldly!

Bikes, bicycling, and road safety.

Online Responses to Google Maps for Biking

Now that it’s been live a full 6 days, reviews are coming in on Google Maps for Biking. As with everything involving bikes and media coverage, feedback is a bit mixed.

Wired Magazine are ‘crowdsourcing’ reviews, asking people to try their route and see what comes out of the system. It’s a generally savvy crowd, so they aren’t assaulting Google (or their data sources) for errors.

Meanwhile, others are claiming Google is providing hazardous directions. The notable in this category is the NY Post, who found that Google’s data on NYC bike routes is not accurate. Commenters on this article are embracing the general run of bike-hater joy, discussing running bikers off the roads, how this is all a liberal conspiracy, etc. You know, the usual.

As someone who works with Google services every day (for money!), I’ll say that I come closer to the opinions of the Wired folks. It’s a beta project. The pedestrian walking routes instructions have also been notably erratic (routing people onto highways, onramps, sidewalk-free zones). There are prominent buttons to provide feedback. Garmin and other GPS instructions haven’t been 100% either.

GPS services and Google Maps are always going to be limited by their data sets. I think anyone going somewhere unfamiliar, or coming in from out-of-town, needs to view Google Maps as a guide. Talking to a good local bicycle shop, or a local bicycle club, will ever be your best bet for getting the real (and most current) poop on local bike routes, including road construction, reality of what traffic levels are like, and even if they’re scenic or not. No online data set will ever match the know-how of the local cyclists!

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Author: julie

Julie Kosbab is an online marketing consultant and active transportation advocate living in Anoka County, Minnesota. She was one of Minnesota's only League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructors when certified in 2005. She is a past member of the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association. She has 2 children and 4 bicycles. Find her on Twitter as @betweenstations.

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