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Google Maps reports surge in biking directions, working to add new routes

Amid COVID-19, Google says that requests for biking directions in Maps hit an all-time high last month. Google Maps is now working to add the latest routes, while adding end-to-end directions that incorporate docked bikeshare services.

Google Maps added biking directions in 2010 — with Apple Maps just making it a tentpole feature in iOS 14 — and it’s now available in “nearly 30 countries around the world.” With millions of daily users and a 69% jump in requests for cycling directions since February, Google provided a recap of how routes are generated:

To give you the most up-to-date bike route, we use a combination of machine learning, complex algorithms and our understanding of real-world conditions based on imagery and data from government authorities and community contributions. We also consider various forms of bike lanes and nearby streets that might be less friendly for your two wheels (like tunnels, stairs and poor surface conditions) so you can have the best and smoothest biking route. You can also see how flat or steep your route will be, so you’ll know if you’re in for an easy breezy ride or one that will really get the heart pumping.

Google says it’s working to show “hundreds of thousands” of new bike lanes in Maps. In recent months, cities have been “adding and widening bike lanes to encourage cycling and accommodate more rider.” The company is encouraging municipalities to directly upload information with the Geo Data Upload tool.

Meanwhile, “end-to-end directions that include docked bikeshare information” will be available in 10 cities over the coming weeks:

Steps will include detailed walking directions to bikeshare stations near your starting point along with live bike availability, turn-by-turn cycling directions to the bikeshare station closest to your destination with live dock availability, and, finally, walking directions from there to your final destination.

Maps, in some cities, will also directly link to the bikeshare app, with the broader capability going live in the following places: 

  • Chicago, (Divvy/Lyft)
  • New York City (Citi Bike/Lyft)
  • San Francisco Bay Area (Bay Wheels/Lyft)
  • Washington, DC (Capital Bikeshare/Lyft)
  • London (Santander Cycles/TfL)
  • Mexico City (Ecobici)
  • Montreal (BIXI/Lyft)
  • Rio De Janeiro (Bike Itaú)
  • São Paulo (Bike Itaú)
  • Taipei and New Taipei City, Taiwan (YouBike)

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: