Tips to make the Google Maps bicycle directions more helpful to you.
1. Maps can’t find a bicycle route! San Francisco area cyclists are familiar with 4th and King (the location of the San Francisco Caltrain station) and 1 Market Street (Justin Herman Plaza, the starting point for the monthly Critical Mass ride). Google Maps can’t find the bike route from Caltrain to the CM start!
Solution: Click on the two headed curvy arrow to swap start and destination, and Google Maps is now a happy camper!
2. I cannot embed my bicycle directions into my web page or blog post! By default, Google Maps bicycle directions cannot be embedded into another web page. When you click the “Link” button in the map, you see the message “This map cannot be embedded“, along with a link to an irrelevant help page.
Solution: To enable embedding, turn off the “Bicycling” layer under the “More” button in the map.
After that, you can embed the Google Map by copying the embed code to get something like this (go ahead, click inside the box and move the map around):
View Larger Map
3. Google Maps sends me on a wonky, round the world journey when I just want to get to my destination! The bicycle directions puts a strong preference on bicycle facilities over on street routes (where bike route information is available), and also will route cyclists around hills instead of over them. The directions from Cupertino, CA to the VA Health Center in Palo Alto, for example, sends you a mile out of the way through local streets and bike paths in Los Altos.
You can modify your directions by grabbing a part of your bike route you don’t like and move it to the more direct route, such as to Foothill Expressway, which is a very popular road for cyclists. Conversely, you can also add bypasses or extra scenery by dragging your bike route around to other interesting roads and paths.
4. What are the green lines on the bicycle map?
The solid dark green line is an off street bike path or trail. The lighter solid green line shows an on street bike lane. Dashed green lines show preferred bike routes. In the image above from Santa Clara, CA, the San Tomas Aquino Bike Trail is a dark green line, Cabrillo Ave and Los Padres Blvd have bike lanes, and San Tomas Expressway is a preferred bike route.
The bike facility information is available in 150 US cities at the launch of this service.
What are your tips and tricks to make the bicycle directions more useful to you?