Some of us still remember a time before smartphones and Google Maps, when you had to rely on conventional maps and meticulously plan your itinerary beforehand - unless you were the adventurous type. But then came Google Maps, and everything changed. The most comprehensive navigation app has been embraced by everyone, as it constantly added new features that make life easier for travellers. For all travellers? Not quite. Features that are focused on how cyclists experience a city have only been added recently and they still much to be desired.

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Google Maps Has Included Cyclists...

Google Maps has decided to incorporate a specialized tool that allows cyclists to plan a route specifically designed for bicycles, just as a car driver or a pedestrian would do. But it has also included specialized map services that are geared towards people commuting by bicycle. By turning the specialized maps on, the maps will show you features that are otherwise invisible, by highlighting bicycle lanes and paths, as well as train tracks. The specialized option can be turned on through the Google Maps menu and is a crucial tool, especially when navigating an unknown area.

(Photo : Pixabay) Pixabay

Yet, not everything is great with the new service - and it seems like Google Maps has still got a lot to cover. For starters, its information on bike sharing stations is still limited and focused on big cities like New York - but let's hope that competition will force Google to improve, since Apple Maps is already offering bike-sharing data in over 175 cities across 36 countries. Yet, the biggest problem is the quality of the routes suggested by Google Maps for people who want to ride a bike to get to their destination. Despite the feature being on the service since 2010 in North America and since 2012 in Europe, the service is still not great when it comes to recommending a route.

...But We Still Have a Long Way to Go

This is because Google Maps often has the wrong priorities. In most cases, it tends to value faster or most common itineraries over safer or quieter routes, which are a priority for many cyclists. Most of the journeys it suggests end up on main roads, which in busy and crowded cities are a true hazard for inexperienced bikers. Many cyclists also complain about outdated information on the app that ends up feeding them false information - which means it suggests moves that would violate the law, like turning on a one-way street the wrong way.


Source: Pixabay

Safety for cyclists is the first issue that should be fixed on the service, as cyclists are particularly vulnerable in traffic. Furthermore, for many bikers, being allowed to tailor their own options to factor in when suggesting a route is important. Some people prefer comfort over speed and others the other way around - and Google Maps may choose the wrong one for you. For many cyclists, the estimated average speed that the app calculates is wrong based on personal performance. Add to the mix that Google Maps won't provide any information on where you can park your bike and it isn't able to tell you which public transport routes allow you to take your bike with you, and you will understand the frustration of many cyclists.

It is great to see bikers included in one of the most important and best mapping apps out there - but there are a lot of features yet to be incorporated in order to make it a great service.