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Old 03-10-10, 09:13 AM   #1
Dan The Man
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Google Maps Has Biking Directions (for US)

Check it out: maps.google.com

I wasn't too impressed with their West coast route though. After playing around with it a bit, you definitely would not want to use these directions for touring. NY to LA with with 1700 turns.

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Old 03-10-10, 09:37 AM   #2
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It's fun to play with, but doesn't really pick the best routes. Surprisingly, it does find some bike paths. The directions may say simply "Turn right" because it has no name for the bike path. Be warned that it does pick dirt roads where available. And it still may pick a major road when a good smaller road parallels it.
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Old 03-10-10, 10:07 AM   #3
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It's an interesting step in the right direction....at least they are considering cycling as transportation now.
That being said, I've found that Google, mapquest, etc. don't give the best routes for driving my car. Don't know how much I would trust the routing for cycling.
At least it can give an initial suggestion and you can use the Street View (drag the little guy feature) and get ideas about the state of the road.
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Old 03-10-10, 10:08 AM   #4
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They also have a "gadget" that you can put on a website page that lets people put in a start and ending point and get bicycling directions. More info here.

I thought about putting it on my site but saw that the directions it suggests aren't the routes I would ride and when it is used, it balloons up to quite large and kind of takes over the page. So, I decided against it.
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Old 03-10-10, 10:13 AM   #5
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I played with it a bit and found it a big improvement over walking directions. I needed to drag it a good bit, but was able to fairly quickly get an approximation of the soon to be released AC Sierra Cascades route.

Would I expect to type in an east coast and west coast point and start riding, no. Is it useful, yes.

It when projecting how long it will take seems to assume you will ride 24/7 and average about 9.5 mph, but I don't find that to be a huge issue.

I am actually pretty impressed.
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Old 03-10-10, 10:52 AM   #6
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It's actually pretty nicely done, in town. Phoenix, for instance, has a series of canal paths and off-the-beaten-path bike roads. This mapping feature actually makes use of them, which is nice for people who aren't so locally in tune. That said, it's a bit ridiculous as well (as stated above, with the countless turns to go short distances).

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Old 03-10-10, 01:57 PM   #7
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I wasn't overly impressed with the routes either, but there was an option to email them with more appropriate routes. Perhaps it will be better in the future.
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Old 03-10-10, 02:14 PM   #8
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I think folks are expecting a bit much here. There is really no way it can pick an ideal route right off if for no other reason than that we all have different ideas about what an ideal route is. I might complain because I like to avoid bike paths and it picked some and someone else will say it misses using all of the possible bike paths. similarly it might pick larger or smaller roads than you prefer.

It seems reasonable to me to expect to have to drag the route here and there to suit your preferences. The thing is that doing that seems to yield a rideable route more easily than the walking or car modes.

The fact is that it already seems to do a better job than either the car route or the walking route and it will probably get better with time.
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Old 03-10-10, 03:27 PM   #9
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You may also want to have a look at cloudmade.com. Cloudmade uses OpenStreetMap data, which means you can add your own local bike paths that you know about. I find the routing a little underwhelming, as it frequently leaves then rejoins a bike path if it saves a few metres.

CloudMade works anywhere, but the OSM data is best in Western Europe, I believe. Pretty good in big Australian cities too.
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Old 03-10-10, 06:54 PM   #10
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At least you can use the street-view on certain long sections of roads to see if there is a shoulder and traffic conditions...

Maybe it is a somewhere to start for planning a tour..
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Old 03-10-10, 09:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I think folks are expecting a bit much here. There is really no way it can pick an ideal route right off if for no other reason than that we all have different ideas about what an ideal route is. .
Agreed.

Scince Google is making alot of turns, it makes sense if it could download these routes to a GPS. Since most GPS units cannot store 1700 Way Points in a route, Google should make it so you can cut this number down into many files.
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Old 03-10-10, 11:12 PM   #12
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>Scince Google is making alot of turns, it makes sense if it could download these routes to a GPS. Since most GPS units cannot store 1700 Way Points in a route, Google should make it so you can cut this number down into many files.

In my experience, it actually works better to download it as a track, rather than a route. You don't get the "turn right here" instructions, but at least you know you'll be following exactly the route you planned, and won't be affected by differences between the GPS maps and Google maps - most GPS maps don't have bike paths, for instance.

Incidentally, I've printed out Google routing instructions and used them on a handlebar bag-mounted map holder before - works pretty well. That was only about 30-40 turns, but I wasn't riding across the USA either. The "1700 turns" problem is obviously an extreme case.
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Old 03-11-10, 01:11 AM   #13
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I tried having it generate my former commute (20 miles in central NJ) and it gave me a pretty good approximation of my tried-and-true route. It remains to be seen how good it'll be for touring.
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Old 03-11-10, 01:27 AM   #14
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hmmm,

I just used google walking directions to help plan a tour i came back from yesterday (boston-new york city)

the walking directions had about 109 steps(which even took me on a bike path in providence), while the cycling directions has 194 steps(and skips that bike path)


I am not sad I didn't use the cycling directions.

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Old 03-11-10, 05:52 AM   #15
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I have also played with it. Seems pretty decent but needs work. If you are new to an area it is probably better than nothing. I heard that the League of American Bicyclist had a hand in it. It will only improve with time. It did however send me up MLK blvd as a way through Baltimore. Not a good option IMHO.
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Old 03-11-10, 06:02 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by stevage View Post
The "1700 turns" problem is obviously an extreme case.
I don't know, is it really? 1700 turns doesn't seem like much for a coast to coast trip. I would have guessed that the TA or NT probably has something in that range, I may be way off there though. Yes you may go hundreds of miles on the same route and there may be few turns out in the unpopulated areas, but going through towns there are often quite a few turns just to stay on the same route.
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Old 03-12-10, 05:17 AM   #17
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I appreciate Google's effort and have confidence the'll work out the kinks. That said, when I plotted a course from Woodstock to Victor NY, it gave me two choices. One, though with way too many turns measured in feet or tenths-mile, wasn't bad, but the other "Scenic Catskills route" dumped me onto a steep, 6-mile hiking trail ten miles out of Woodstock. Think I'll wait for V2.0.
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Old 03-12-10, 05:58 AM   #18
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Maybe it is a somewhere to start for planning a tour..
That is how I will be using it, and paper maps will be carried on the trip.
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