Google Bike Routes — Almost Here?

ride_the_city.jpgNew Yorkers can use Ride the City to plan bike trips. Cyclists in most other American cities don't have the option.
The folks at Google Maps "Bike There" -- the blog dedicated to getting the world's foremost information cruncher to include bike directions in its trip planning tools -- noticed an encouraging development yesterday. On Google's LatLong blog, embedded in a post about a new layer of base data in Google Maps, we now have a pretty direct acknowledgment straight from the source: Bike directions are coming.

College students will be pleased to see maps of many campuses; and cyclists will now find many more trails and paths to explore. Soon we even plan on providing you with biking directions to take advantage of this new data.

The technical hurdles to creating online bike route planners are substantial. Right now, cyclists in only a handful of cities can take advantage of such tools. New Yorkers have Ride the City, as do residents of Chicago, Austin, Louisville, and San Diego. If you're in Portland, Oregon or Milwaukee, you can use Bycycle.org. As far as I know, that's about all we've got in the USA. Think there's an appetite for more? Peter Smith, the man behind the "Bike There" campaign, has collected 50,000 signatures asking Google to add bike trip tools. You can sign on here, just in case.