Google Maps expands cycle directions across Europe and Australia and wants you to help fill in the gaps
It’s been over two years since Google first began rolling out biking data within Google Maps for the US and Canada. This week the UK has been added to the list of supported countries, alongside (take a deep breath) Austria, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
The cycle routes contain an enormous amount of trials, lanes and recommended roads spanning the length and breadth of the UK and are available now. To access this new cycle route information load up Google Maps in your favourite browser and select ‘Bicycling’ from the menu in the top right corner of the map window.
Possibly the most important new feature is the inclusion of cycling directions baked right into Google Maps. You can now plan cycle routes with far greater accuracy, avoiding busy roads, motorways and even steep hills. You can create as many cycle routes as you like and conveniently save then within your Google account for access anytime, anywhere, via a desktop computer, tablet or smart phone.
Cycling directions are currently in ‘beta’, so bear that in mind when planning your journeys. Google requests that you report unmapped bike routes, streets or other locations that aren’t suited for cycling.
If you’re anything like me (I gave up my car and travel by bike and train wherever possible) you’ll be overjoyed with these new features. In the past Google’s map directions haven’t always been particularly ‘bicycle friendly’, but that’s where you come in…
If you find that Google Maps is either incorrect, out of date, or doesn’t have some of your tried and tested routes available, then you’ll be able to use ‘Google Map Maker’ to fill in cycle routes yourself, allowing everyone else to take advantage of your additions to Google Maps. Think of it as crowd-sourced cycle data, because that’s essentially what this is. You create or edit the cycle routes yourself, submit them to Google for validation, and if they are valid they’ll be added to Google Maps for all the world to see.
Now that I’ve got you all psyched up to add routes to Google Maps, here’s the bad news. Unfortunately Google Map Maker is not yet available in the UK, but Google have stated that countries with this new cycle route data will have access to the service in the near future:
“If you live in a country that does not yet have Map Maker enabled, we appreciate
your patience while we work to make it available as soon as possible”
On the other hand, if you live in a country that already supports Google Map Maker, but doesn’t yet have cycle routes enabled, you can start adding your own cycle routes in preparation for the eventual roll out in your country.
Google have started the ball rolling, now it’s up to the general public to help develop a rich network of cycle routes across the UK, Europe and eventually the whole planet.
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