A bike boulevard, Google bike directions, and an unnecessary detour

America’s first bicycle boulevard along Bryant Avenue in Palo Alto features a number of intersections that restrict motor vehicles but allow bicycles and pedestrians to pass through unhindered.

Major intersections, such as the one with Embarcadero, look like this, where cars and trucks must turn right, but bikes can continue through.

Ellen Fletcher Bike Boulevard

Here’s the Google Streetview at this intersection.

bryant-view

If you ask for Google bike directions, though, Google doesn’t seem to know how to deal with these bicycle-only exceptions. The simplest case is travel across a single block that crosses Embarcadero. Google tells me, as a cyclist, to detour away from the bike boulevard, up to Waverly and back south again to Bryant. I’ve highlighted the bike boulevard in yellow.

bryant-directions

I and several other people reported this problem to the Google Maps team. I just received a response from Google.

Thank you for reporting this problem. Unfortunately, for various reasons, the problem you reported isn’t easy for us to fix at this time.

We did want to let you know that we’ve escalated your report to the appropriate engineering team. Even though we don’t have an immediate fix to your problem, please be assured that we’re working hard for a resolution.

Given that similar road treatments are becoming more common, I hope Google does engineer a way to recognize bicycle exceptions like this.