Google has added a new and much anticipated feature to it’s Google Maps software, Google Voice Guided Bike Directions. Here’s a link to the official details.
This will allow you to have the directions to your destinations read out loud to you through your smartphone headphones. Personally I can’t wear headphones when riding in traffic. I’ve learned that I need all 5 senses just to stay alive. On the other hand cranking up the tunes to blow off some steam while riding off road can be very therapeutic for me.
Google Map Maker Bike Paths looks like a really grand idea. I’m very curious to learn more about how it will be curated. This type of tool would deliver great information for planning bike commuting routes and errand running. It takes me a few weeks to find the best route from point A to point B. sometimes, a year later, I’ll take a new turn and discover an entirely new off road path to work that was just 2 blocks east.
Being able to share the favored routes with other cyclist and being able to label them “prefer” and “avoid” based on if the street has bike lanes, or fast moving traffic for example sounds like a truly democratic process and worthy effort.
I think this will help a lot of newbie commuters that are just stuck in a web of side walks, intersections, killer SUV’s and buses.
Being able to connect off road trails to form circuits and paths to do your daily tasks can foster a community of cyclists and hopefully connect stewards of the trails so that they can work together and properly maintain the paths all season round.
This information could in time lead city planners to take notice in the most traveled bike routes and be able to respond to areas that need improvement such as where bottle necks occur, or where nasty intersection are hiding or my favorite, where stretches of tarmac are totally missing from the streets of Winnipeg.
Canada however is not one of the countries on the beta for Google Map Maker Bike Paths, but here is a video preview of what the service has to offer.
The business of mapping and really, and at the end of the day designating bike traffic routes not just in one city, but the world is a tremendous undertaking, but I can’t think of any one better to step up to the challenge than Google. My helmet’s off to you folks for a job well done. Now how about that beta test for Canada….?