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Old 03-23-10, 07:30 AM   #1
pfp1954
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google maps question

While using google maps to get directions for a car trip to a distant location I noticed that a function therein exists to map directions for bicycle travel. I played around with it and was somewhat intrigued by the possibilities. My question, for anyone out there, is: Have you ever used these bicycle directions for local rides or even touring applications? And, what has been your experience? I am sometimes frustrated in seeking new cycling routes and wonder if following the google directions is a good idea. Thanks for any input.
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Old 03-23-10, 07:39 AM   #2
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Google Maps came out recently. I have not used it but did plot two of my long rides ( 125+ miles) to my parents home and our family cabin that I have established routes. I noticed that the Google route would take me on busy roads and around some short steep hills. The "around the hill routes" would add several miles to the ride each time. Maybe Google will develop some options to select based on the rider/ability that will fine tune the route. I have used Map My Ride, Ride With GPS and Bikely with success.
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Old 03-23-10, 07:47 AM   #3
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They can't guess the best route, they mostly avoid highways and include bike paths. Still, they often choose the same route I would pick.

I use it for testing new routes--it's fast to drag the route onto a different street. Then I get the distance calculated immediately.

Try ridewithgps.com and click Search. You can enter a city or zipcode and see the posted routes near there. And try http://www.mapmyride.com/search.

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Old 03-23-10, 08:48 AM   #4
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The bicycle routes option on Google Maps is too new for me to have used it very much, but it is a tool I will use in the future. I'm sure there will be many times that there is a better option than what it suggests, but I have already seen some suggested routes that look like they may be better than what I have been doing. Assuming it works like regular Google Maps, you can make changes by dragging points to different roads and it will reroute to compensate.
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Old 03-23-10, 08:52 AM   #5
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I used google maps to plan my commute. it was useful to zoom in and tweak the route for the shortest distance. initially it guided me as I were a car and so there was a lot of tweaking.

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Old 03-23-10, 09:33 AM   #6
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It's Beta right now. So, it works but not very well in some cases.
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Old 03-23-10, 11:02 AM   #7
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I have used it a bit; it's very interesting.

- Does a great job showing local bike paths and bike lanes, which previously were not integrated into Google maps
- Seems to have a high preference to *avoid* steep hills. So if you like riding longer distances to avoid hills, it's good.
- In rural areas, it seems to have a high preference for unpaved roads. If you are using it to plot a long ride in the Midwest, for example, it seems to want to take you down dirt/sand roads, instead of sticking to paved highways. This is neither good nor bad -- I think it's *very* interesting as previously none of the online mapping tools that I have seen would take you down dirt roads without a lot of manual work on the user's part. On the other hand, I think most touring cyclists would prefer to stick to paved roads. It will still do that, but you have to tell it you're traveling by car.
- I noticed that in some areas in our region it guided me down some forest service roads that I know are closed to any kind of traffic.

It's a great tool, and will get better over time, I'm sure.
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Old 03-23-10, 02:36 PM   #8
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I tried the Google Maps Bicycling option on some city, suburban and rural routes. There are still quirks in both the maps and the algorithm. I imagine some of the issues will be fixed in future releases.

In rural areas it frequently uses gravel roads rather than using low traffic state routes. This is especially true of long distance routes, such as Chicago to Omaha. Over long distances, the routes suggested with the Bicycling option are often the same as one gets when using the Walking option.

Then, oddly, it uses some very high traffic volume streets passing through some towns.

On the plus side, it frequently offers several routes to pick from, one of which is likely to be reasonable. And it is easy to recalculate a new route by dragging and dropping some points from the initially calculated route.

It was helpful in cutting 10 miles off of a 50 mile trip from Homewood, IL to the Indiana Dunes SP, but it took a lot of manual tweaking to get there.

Bike routing around Chicago looked pretty good. In both city and suburban areas, there were several odd cases where, when roads intersected, it avoided the intersection by zigzagging thru residential areas a few blocks from the intersection. It appeared to not like to route thru the stop light. In both the city and burbs routes sometimes zigzagged on and off of a perfectly good street, including some streets with bike lanes.

It doesn't know about a number of good county bike paths. And it is currently missing two of the longest bike paths in the state of IL ... the I&M Canal from Joliet to LaSalle (approx 60 mi) and the Hennepin Canal from Bureau Junction to Moline (also approx 60 mi) I presume these oversights will be corrected with time.

The most important ( to me ) features of google maps for bicycle route planning are available regardless of which routing option is selected, walking, driving (no highways), or bicycling.

First, a route can be displayed along with selected points of interest. For example, the location of campgrounds, or convenience stores, or restaurants, or motels, or whatever services are of interest, can be displayed on any route you select. You manually tweak the route to take advantage of them. That is extremely helpful in planing a long distance tour.

Second, the mapping options produce a cue sheet.

And third, street view is often available along the route, so you can get some idea as to whether or not you really want to bicycle on a particular road or over a particular bridge.

The Google Maps bicycling and driving (no highways) features strike me as useful tools for initial route planning used in conjunction with, but not instead of, state and city bike route maps. And I would still bring maps and/or GPS on a tour.

Last edited by Recycle; 03-23-10 at 03:23 PM.
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Old 03-23-10, 04:26 PM   #9
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I played with it some - it looks like it has possibilities. Right now I am not out of routes to ride so I don't need it - but by mid season I will probably use it.
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Old 03-23-10, 05:40 PM   #10
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What Recycle said above.

Like others, I found no familiar routes to be either completely wrong or optimal. There is no good substitute for local knowledge.
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Old 03-24-10, 04:51 AM   #11
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My first Google Bicycle map

Directions
Link: <http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=30.11625,-95.27009&daddr=Firetower+Rd+to:Firetower+Rd+to:Farm+to+Market+2090+to:TX-105+E+to:Fostoria+Tram+Rd+to:Farm+to+Market+Rd+2025+N+to:coldspring+tx+to:Farm+to+Market+Rd+3128+to: Farm+to+Market+Rd+222+to:Farm+to+Market+Rd+222+to:Farm+to+Market+Rd+222%2FSpring+St+to:Shepherd+tx+t o:Unknown+road+to:Unknown+road+to:US-59+S+to:Unknown+road+to:US-59+S+to:Frontage+Rd+U.S.+59+to:Frontage+Rd+U.S.+59+to:Comer+Reinhart+Rd+to:Eastex+Freeway+Service+Rd +to:Farm+to+Market+1314+N&geocode=%3BFTskzQEdam5S-g%3BFcAqzQEdYlFS-g%3BFXqxzQEdRpBS-g%3BFYuozgEd2tdT-g%3BFQzRzwEdw9xT-g%3BFb9k0AEdL5ZU-g%3BFaXN0gEd2nBU-inTgXxVZ2NHhjFHR1-J3OpXpA%3BFaQ70wEdxLBU-g%3BFbTv0gEdMHlV-g%3BFQTr0gEddoVV-g%3BFTBk0QEdBmZW-g%3BFb1c0QEdiHdW-ikvkmgLA5w4hjG4ENl3BqcW4w%3BFaZlzwEd5kJV-g%3BFRbszgEdhuRU-g%3BFefHzgEdk-VU-g%3BFaq6zgEdbd9U-g%3BFW2YzgEdpNFU-g%3BFYhwzQEdL_VT-g%3BFVskzQEdCMxT-g%3BFSdSzAEdTERT-g%3BFdsXzAEdShhT-g%3BFTdcywEdF6hS-g&hl=en&mra=dme&mrcr=0&mrsp=0&sz=14&via=1,2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,13,14,15,16,18,19,20,21&dirflg=d&sll=3 0.113726,-95.26082&sspn=0.031035,0.057764&ie=UTF8&z=14&lci=bike>
Start address: Farm to Market 1314 N
End address: Farm to Market 1314 N
Start at: Farm to Market 1314 N
1. Head northwest on Farm to Market 1314 N toward Sandy Ln - 4.8 mi
2. Turn right at Old Houston Rd - 3.2 mi
3. Turn right at TX-242 E - 2.8 mi
4. Turn left at Firetower Rd - 3.1 mi
5. Turn right at Farm to Market 2090 - 2.0 mi
6. Turn left at Daw Collins Rd/Farm to Market 105 - 3.8 mi
7. Turn right at Old Hwy 105 E - 2.3 mi
8. Turn right at TX-105 E - 1.8 mi
9. Slight left at Fostoria Rd - 0.4 mi
10. Turn right at Forest Service Rd 274/N Fostoria Rd - 1.4 mi
11. Continue onto Fostoria Tram Rd - 3.6 mi
12. Continue onto Shell Oil Rd - 2.3 mi
13. Turn right at Farm-To-Market Rd 945 - 2.0 mi
14. Turn left at Farm to Market Rd 2025 N - 10.4 mi
15. Slight right at TX-150 E - 1.9 mi
16. Turn right at Church St - 49 ft
Arrive at: Coldspring, TX
17. Head north on Church St toward Byrd Ave/Farm to Market Rd 1514 - 49 ft
18. Turn right at Byrd Ave/Farm to Market Rd 1514 Continue to follow Farm to Market Rd 1514 - 2.3 mi
19. Turn right at Farm to Market Rd 3128 - 3.6 mi
20. Turn left at Farm to Market Rd 222 - 0.3 mi
21. Farm to Market Rd 222 turns slightly right and becomes F-M 222 N - 115 ft
22. Continue onto Farm to Market Rd 222 - 8.3 mi
23. Turn left at Main St - 0.3 mi
24. Turn left at N Byrd Ave - 85 ft
Arrive at: Shepherd, TX
25. Head southwest on N Byrd Ave toward Main St - 1.7 mi
26. Take the ramp onto US-59 S - 7.8 mi
27. Turn right at Sylvester Rd - 75 ft
28. Turn left at Magruder Ave - 2.2 mi
29. Take the ramp on the left onto US-59 S - 0.8 mi
30. Take the exit toward TX-105/Conroe - 0.2 mi
31. Continue straight - 0.3 mi
32. Take the ramp on the left onto US-59 S - 0.4 mi
33. Take the exit toward TX-573/Washington Ave - 0.2 mi
34. Continue straight - 0.3 mi
35. Take the ramp onto US-59 S - 0.4 mi
Arrive at: US-59 S
36. Head southwest on US-59 S toward Gladstell Rd - 3.2 mi
37. Turn right at County Rd 375/Mandell Rd - 0.2 mi
38. Turn left at County Rd 3750S/Lena Dr Continue to follow Lena Dr - 0.5 mi
39. Slight left at Fostoria Rd - 89 ft
40. Turn right at Cole Dr - 0.9 mi
41. Turn left to stay on Cole Dr - 0.2 mi
42. Turn right at Frontage Rd U.S. 59 - 4.1 mi
43. Turn left at H L Patton - 495 ft
44. Turn right at 1st St - 0.3 mi
45. Continue onto Main - 0.2 mi
46. Turn right at Yates - 0.4 mi
47. Turn right at Main - 0.2 mi
48. Slight right to stay on Main - 0.6 mi
49. Turn left at Long St - 1.4 mi
50. Turn right at S Tram Rd - 0.2 mi
51. Continue onto Galaxy Blvd - 0.1 mi
52. Turn right at Roman Forest Blvd - 4.0 mi
53. Turn left at Comer Reinhart Rd - 0.6 mi
54. Turn right toward TX-494 Loop S - 203 ft
55. Turn left at TX-494 Loop S - 0.7 mi
56. Turn right at Farm-To-Market Rd 1485 - 0.3 mi
57. Turn left at Eastex Freeway Service Rd - 3.7 mi
58. Turn right at Farm to Market 1314 N - 0.6 mi
Arrive at: Farm to Market 1314 N
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