Cycling blogs are all over this already, but Google has released a "Grab Your Bike and Go" feature to give cycling directions for all maps. Google's Shannon Guymon is the opening plenary speaker at the National Bike Summit and she's expected to announce the new feature this morning and give a demonstration.
|Screenshot: from Jefferson's Rotunda to the Charlottesville Downtown Mall in 8 minutes|
- Identifies cycling facilities (for now in "hundreds of US cities")
- Shows which routes are considered safer than others, including paths that have limited or no driving
- Uses elevation grades to estimate times and recommend routes
It shouldn't be too long before many localities and non-profit organizations are able to feed their information to Google. Unlike transit routes, there's nothing proprietary about safety recommendations. Right now Google lists the Charlottesville pedestrian mall as a recommended route, although its actually prohibited to cyclists. Google accepts feedback on all of these recommendations, so we can all take part in building the most accurate and useful mapping tool.
This addition from Google coincides nicely with U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) introduction of H.R. 4722, the Active Community Transportation Act of 2010 in the U.S. House of Representatives last week.