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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 07-13-12, 06:39 AM   #1
treebound 
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How accurate is GoogleMaps for your commute

Just curious, if you go to maps.google.com and get directions for your bike commute, how accurate is the elapsed time that google estimates for the trip versus your actual time? You can pull the suggested route around to follow your actual route, you might have to turn on the bike route options for the map overlays.

For one route I'm looking at, google maps is saying 14.6 miles and 1:25 for the time, which is somewhere around 10-11mph average allowing for stop signs/lights. Seems low, but maybe not. I guess I should go check out the "how fast" threads, but I was just curious specifically about the Google Maps bike routing function. Granted it is all relative, and different people ride at different speeds, and I don't know if the utility calculates in hills and such.

I was going to try using the Poll option, but can't get it to work on this computer. So how about giving your actual time/distance and then what Google Maps comes up with. I'm going to try and get out for a non-commute ride this weekend and see how close it is.
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Old 07-13-12, 06:50 AM   #2
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The google maps times seem to be set based on the more casual recreational or commuting cyclist. Mine says it would take 1 hour, 48 minutes, covering 18.9 miles. My actual distance this morning was 18.97 which I covered in under 73 minutes. My norm is closer to 83 minute for that distance, but still far shy of the 108 minutes Google wants it to take me.

I pass plenty of folks for whom those estimates would be accurate. And plenty pass me who would scoff if I posted my estimated times. Unlike cars which, regardless of their performance potential, all go pretty much the same speed because of road conditions, bike speeds are determined far more by their rider. The google times may be accurate for you, or may not.
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Old 07-13-12, 07:28 AM   #3
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Google maps probably has intentionally slow estimates so that people plotting a trip for the first time needing to get somewhere on time don't underestimate the time it will take, which is probably a wise move. This site probably has better specific estimates since you can set estimated flat and climbing speeds, among other things: http://www.bikeroutetoaster.com/
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Old 07-13-12, 07:43 AM   #4
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In my experience, I take the Googl Maps Bike times & figure my time will be around 2/3 of whatever they post. It has always been pretty accurate.

Last edited by MK313; 07-13-12 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 07-13-12, 07:48 AM   #5
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Unless you are familiar with the route google.maps is suggesting, I suggest doing an actual ride. Google.maps is famous for inventing roads. The last time that I used it on my phone for navigation, it tried to send me down a private road that was closed to public traffic, and I wound up having to circumnavigate through the bad part of da hood. Not fun.

Time wise? It's actually fairly accurate for some routes I know are correctly mapped. The number of major intersections that need to be crossed and traffic lights and traffic on narrow roads tends to limit my speed.
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Old 07-13-12, 07:59 AM   #6
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Google maps tells me my commute should be 2 hours and 5 minutes. I did it this morning in 1 hour and 21 minutes. My slowest time for the commute (bad weather, headwinds etc.) has never been as slow as 2 hours and 5 minutes.
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Old 07-13-12, 09:25 AM   #7
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Interesting, thanks, and it looks so far like 2/3rds of Google time might be a good adjusted guesstimate.

I'll check out the toaster site and see what it shows. Thanks for the link.
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Old 07-13-12, 09:41 AM   #8
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Never use google maps for times. Instead I use it to scout potential routes and distances. Just looked and it gives a longer time than my computer says. But my computer doesn't account for time at the lights.
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Old 07-13-12, 12:39 PM   #9
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Eh, it's always slow for me, I bike between 15-20mph based on weather, google maps estimates 11ish. But my real issue with it is the bike 'safe' routes it picks for me. I normally end up doing a car route, but turning on the 'no highways' option, otherwise it'll add 20/30% extra distance while it tries to route me around 'unsafe' roads or over to out of the way bike paths.
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Old 07-13-12, 01:02 PM   #10
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I checked google maps against my daily commute. Once I dragged the map line to the streets I actually take (I ride an extra half mile to get a wider street with less turning traffic conflicts), the distance and time were very accurate. My bike computer tells me I average 11.0 to 11.5 mph for most of my commutes, and that is rolling speed (not including time stopped), so when I add in a couple of minutes at some of the 10 traffic lights I ride through, the google time estimate is pretty accurate for me. Higher speed riders will get there earlier, obviously.

Just be sure to take the suggested route as a starting point and look for safer nearby alternate streets as alternates.
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Old 07-13-12, 01:28 PM   #11
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I find that Google maps estimates it time based on a casual riding pace. It recently took me 3 hours and 19 minutes to make a commute that Google estimate to be 3 hours and 31 minutes. In no way was I going at any sort of race pace. This route consisted of rolling hills.
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Old 07-13-12, 02:00 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cycronin View Post
Google maps probably has intentionally slow estimates so that people plotting a trip for the first time needing to get somewhere on time don't underestimate the time it will take, which is probably a wise move. This site probably has better specific estimates since you can set estimated flat and climbing speeds, among other things: http://www.bikeroutetoaster.com/
Thanks for the link to the bikeroutetoaster site, I really like it. Very useful for scouting routes using both street maps and aerial photo maps, and for getting elevation information on the route I usually take. I hadn't seen that site before; it is a new favorite. Thanks!
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Old 07-13-12, 02:06 PM   #13
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On my short commute, it's actually pretty close, and it must have something in the routine to take hills into account, because when I hit the 'reverse route', the time drops by 3 mins (downhill). The predicted time is close, but most of the delays I hit seem to be lights along the way. Also, my downhill speed is much better than it predicts, maybe because I'm commuting on a recumbent.
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Old 07-13-12, 03:22 PM   #14
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Mine is pretty close. It is more governed by stoplights than ride time.
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Old 07-13-12, 04:36 PM   #15
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Wildly inaccurate, but it really depends on the nature of the roads.

The route I rode today went through a lot of suburban residental neighborhoods with many stops signs and traffic signals (15-20 stops over 10 miles). Google maps estimated it at 53 minutes. I did it in 40 minutes, plus however long I was stopped, which I'd guess at 5 minutes. So that's within about 15%.

The route I rode yesterday went along mostly rural roads with little traffic and just a few stops. Google maps estimated it at 68 minutes. I did it in 42 minutes, plus however long I was stopped, which I'd say was less than 3 minutes. So that's right on the earlier quoted 2/3 error.

It also depends on wind and how much effort I put into the ride.
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Old 07-13-12, 04:51 PM   #16
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Wow their estimate is about 130% of my typical time for the route they suggested.
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Old 07-13-12, 05:04 PM   #17
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Clearly, this thread is biased because the typical hardcore bikeforums member rides much more often, and thus faster, than the typical overweight American.

FWIW, google maps says my route is 15.6 miles/1hr 20min, while my cyclocomputer says 16.0 miles/~55min.
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Old 07-13-12, 07:16 PM   #18
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We all have a sense of how long our commutes should take after we do them a couple times, even if we choose to take a new detour; time estimates are of limited use to us. I think google maps might be tuned to give estimates for bike tourers because it is probably a lot more important to them. You're far more likely to do only 10-12 mph on a loaded touring bike and doing day after day of 50-150 miles.
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Old 07-13-12, 08:38 PM   #19
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Works out very close for me.
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