Google Maps has long offered “by car” directions, later added “walking,” and there are now a number of cities that have “by public transit.” The transit directions depend on some very complex databases created by transit agencies which include bus and light rail routes, stops, and times. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a “by bike” option? Of course you can get some information from the existing car directions, but it does not include routes that bikes can take but cars cannot, such as multi-use paths and passthroughs that connect neighborhoods for walkers and bikers. It also doesn’t take into account the quality of the route, such as the level of bicycle facility (bike lanes, shared lanes, narrow streets, traffic volume, number of turning vehicles) which all affect bicycling efficiency and safety.
There is an effort to encourage Google to add “by bike.” If you’d like to add your voice (or your click) to that effort, go to a petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/bikether/petition.html, or more directly, go tohttp://maps.google.com/support/bin/static.py?page=suggestions.cs and select “Add bike trail information and biking directions” in the Route Information section.
Several bicycle advocacy groups and transportation agencies have managed to create bicycle routing with Google Maps, but it has required a huge amount of programming on their part and is not as robust as it would be if it were an integrated service. The Google Maps version of the Carson City Bicycle Route Map that I created is static, and is also incomplete. It is a visual guide to the principal, alternate and multi-use trail routes, but it in no way helps you find directions from one place to another, which is the real potential of Google Maps and why it is so popular with people who want the “by car,” “by public transit,” and “walking” directions.