Google Maps is not new, but its mapping service specifically for bicyclists is. The new service aims to increase biking popularity and decrease the number of bicycle accidents.
After a reported bombardment of requests for a Google mapping service catering to bike riders, as of March 10, Google has delivered. And because California has such a great population of cyclists, areas such as San Francisco and Los Angeles will both likely benefit from and pioneer the new mapping service on their trails.
So far Google has mapped out 12,000 miles of biking trails with more work underway. The system plots routes based on riders’ locations and desired destinations using a coding system. Google categorizes trails as for bikes only, on-road, dedicated bike lanes or bike-friendly with no lane dedication.
The system’s biking directions take into account efficiency, hills and safety, meaning busy intersections and roads are avoided in the given routes. Cyclists are not only provided directions but can also learn about the trails beforehand and personalize their routes.
Bike riding intimidates many people, especially in areas like L.A. and San Francisco where traffic is crazy. But California also has some of the most beautiful landscapes and weather a biker could ask for. The hope is that Google Maps’ new addition will give more people the confidence to hop on a bike and hit the trails, even in more daunting cities.
Riding confidence is not the only benefit Google wants to provide bicyclists. By taking busy roads and intersections into account, Google hopes to improve biker safety by keeping riders on safer trails where fewer bike accidents statistically take place.
Like with any new service and technology, the bike trail routing system could also bring up potential risks. As usual, bikers must always wield the utmost responsibility and sound judgment when riding in order to avoid bicycle accidents. If Google suggests a trail that seems unsafe or incorrect, trust your evaluation and ride safely elsewhere.
Rider awareness is the most reliable source of bicycle safety and bike accident prevention.
Google’s new system is in its early stages and inevitably will have kinks to be fixed and best practices to be determined. In order for the service to work most effectively and best benefit its users, Google urges bicyclists to provide them with feedback, concerns and suggestions regarding the new bike trail routing system.