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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Google on a Bicycle

posted by on April 8 at 12:28 PM

An online petition

To: Google, and the Google Maps team

We would like a ‘Bike There’ feature added to Google Maps — to go with the current ‘Drive There’ and ‘Take Public Transit’ options….

…30270 total signatures at the moment. Here’s the organizer’s blog.

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I have a friend who works for Google Maps here in Seattle. I sent him the petition link.

Posted by NaFun | April 8, 2008 12:34 PM


Posted by bree | April 8, 2008 12:36 PM

I was thinking of e-mailing this to them last night while I was running. I think it'd be a great idea for them to add either "bike there" or "walk there" for major cities where people use mass transit and alternative means. I always look up places that are less than a mile away. I would've had a good laugh if Google has as an April Fool's Day Joke a setting saying "Get off your fat ass and walk the X miles to Y"

It'd be a great idea for them to include trail maps along with the streets. It'd be great to create biking/running maps to send to people or to get a sense of feel when you're visiting or have moved to a new area.

Posted by apres_moi | April 8, 2008 12:37 PM

i DEFINITELY want a "walk there" option. i'm usually lamenting about this about twice month. if only i could cteate it myself!

Posted by sara | April 8, 2008 12:46 PM
5 has had a pretty slick trip planner for a while.... covers Portland (of course) and Milwaukee... so that's a start; now to throw some real re$ources at it...

Posted by cdc | April 8, 2008 1:08 PM

"Walk there" would be nice. I can't count the number of times that Google Maps has grotesquely failed in route planning for me, usually by sending me on miles-long detours to avoid one-way streets, or (especially in Britain) ignoring the many, many public rights-of-way open to feet but not cars.

Posted by Fnarf | April 8, 2008 1:16 PM

Why no Facebook or MySpace groups?

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 8, 2008 1:19 PM

I'm not sure I understand- why do you need to be told how to walk somewhere? Isn't that evident from looking at the map, and from driving directions?

Mapping out bicycle lanes could be useful, but if you can drive it, you can generally bike it - that "Avoid Highways" box might as well be a "Bike It" option.

Posted by Tdub | April 8, 2008 1:20 PM

kinda offtopic, but why no street-view for seattle? I mean, Spokane and Albuquerque have street view, but not seattle? wtf?

Posted by street view | April 8, 2008 1:31 PM

Not sure how they'd implement it. Google doesn't make the maps, they license them from outfits like NAVTEQ (at least for US/Canada). I'd be surprised if those firms had bike lane and trail data available.

Posted by Nicholas | April 8, 2008 1:34 PM

GREAT idea, I just signed it!!

And @9, I know; I can see a street view of SPOKANE??!!! That is like seeing the ass crack of Ecce Homo or something worse....

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | April 8, 2008 1:34 PM

i echo a walk there option! in addition to avoiding one way streets i've had to find my way around the freeways/parkways etc.

Posted by Jiberish | April 8, 2008 1:48 PM

Uh...can't you just choose the "no highways" option on google maps? That gives you a non-highway route to a destination. How different would that be from a bike-friendly route?

Posted by dope | April 8, 2008 2:16 PM

Err... I don't get the point of a "walk there" option, and I WALK PRACTICALLY EVERYWHERE! Why would one need this? I mean, doesn't a map make it obvious how to walk from A to B?

Posted by Will Penguin | April 8, 2008 2:26 PM

@13 - I think the "no highway" mode mostly skips big divided highways, but still routes on roads that aren't really highways but that aren't much fun for most folks to ride if there's an alternative. For example, a quick test with "no highways" sent me along Aurora Ave between 85th and 100th, even though Linden, one block west, would be more pleasant on a bike.

A "real" bike trip planner would actually favor low-traffic streets, or those with a bike lane/fat shoulder, maybe help find a way around steep hills, etc.

Posted by cdc | April 8, 2008 2:48 PM


In Seattle it can be especially useful. There are a ton of staircases to get up and down Queen Anne and Capitol Hill. They aren't on a map and it would be great to have them included in an online database. There are also plenty of intersections and streets with restricted access for pedestrians, something that wouldn't show up on a map.

Posted by keshmeshi | April 8, 2008 2:49 PM

NAVTEQ has data for Seattle.

I should know, I used to have a GPS system on my car they provided for the field tests for sports coupes.

Or at least they did five years ago.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 8, 2008 3:54 PM

Google recently asked Philadelphia for bike lane data. I wouldn't be surprised if something like what this petition is asking for is already in the works. Thi

Posted by casey | April 8, 2008 4:01 PM

The implementation probably wouldn't be that bad. Just another couple dozen columns to keep track of in your GIS data.

Posted by Greg | April 8, 2008 4:39 PM

The only problem is running the GIS plot recorder, really - usually these are vans that do geomap readings, but you could probably infer from satellite maps and the GIS data the city has, pop it in and annotate the layer.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 8, 2008 5:14 PM

@14: Google Maps shows pedestrian rights-of-way as dead ends unless a car can get down them. Stairs, for instance, as 16 points out. In Great Britain, there are thousands and thousands of public rights-of-way, since time immemorial, that are oftentimes as simple as a walkway down the side of a house or a cut across a field. Google Maps won't let you go either place.

Consider also things like beach access, where the beach is accessible and public, but finding the footpath from the beach road is impossible unless you already know where it is.

Posted by Fnarf | April 8, 2008 6:31 PM

#21 - re: beach access. There's recently been a couple of court cases involving what resident's consider "private drives" (which often aren't legally private at all) vs. Google maps. Beach access already so contentious, it'll be interesting to see what happens as these maps evolve.

I personally think the public has a right to knowledge of and access to public land, so fuck'em - I don't care if Cher thinks it's HER back yard - show me the steps to the beach Google!

Posted by Dougsf | April 8, 2008 6:40 PM

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