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Did you know that Google Maps’ most-requested feature addition is biking directions, in large part due to a vocal 50,000-signature-strong group of “Bike There” petitioners? I wouldn’t have guessed it! The petitioners’ wish is being granted tonight, with bike directions for 150 U.S. cities and 12,000 miles of Rails to Trails Conservancy data going live. Product manager Shannon Guymon will announce the product tomorrow in Washington, D.C., in an eagerly anticipated talk at the National Bike Summit.
Google’s biking directions will route users around freeways and busy streets, minimize hills and recommend wide and dedicated bike lanes. They are built using Google’s newly expanded base map dataset from last October, and will as much as possible be accompanied by Street View and Trail View imagery captured by Google cars and trikes. Guymon told us that about 10 percent of Maps usage today is for walking directions, with public transit on the rise and driving directions still owning the majority. Personally, while I love mountain biking, I’m kind of a wuss about urban riding — but maybe Google will find a way to route me around my fears.