Sunday, August 15, 2010

Google Maps for Cyclists / USA version

The beta version for bicyclists is just a few months old, but it is already reshaping how bike enthusiasts travel. Spanning more than 200 cities nationwide — and with plans to roll out bicycle routes internationally — Google Maps relies on a mash-up of data, from publicly available sources like bike maps to user-generated information. It joins a host of other bike-mapping Web sites, from Bikely, which lets people share routes in cities around the world, to Ride the City, a geowiki (or self-editing map) app, available in 10 cities (including New York, Boston, San Francisco and Toronto) that allows users to edit their routes as they ride, to MapMyRide, which is geared more toward fitness training and logging workouts. But the one with the most potential — and the most buzz among bikers — is Google’s. There are three kinds of routes highlighted on its maps: bike-only trails (dark green), dedicated bicycle lanes (light green) and bike-friendly roads but with no separate lanes (dashed green). The algorithm factors in variables besides bike lanes, like confusing intersections, steep hills or busy streets, before spitting out the “best” route. The software includes more than 12,000 miles of off-road trails as well. Read on here.