Tucson is one of the 150 cities who can now use Google Maps to “bike there.”
Over 51,000 cyclists signed an online petition to have Google add the feature to the site.
Rumors started swirling when Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org announced that an official from Google would be speaking at the 10th Annual National Bike Summit. Maus later confirmed that the announcement would indeed be the addition of bicycling directions to Google Maps.
The feature went live Wednesday evening.
Given how popular cycling is in Tucson, it makes sense that we were one of the 150 cities included in the initial launch.
I’m not sure how useful it will be to established Tucson riders, though. I suspect it will be most helpful to visitors and people who are considering riding somewhere for the first time.
It would be great if it became a tool to get new riders on the road by showing them there are facilities to get them from point A to point B.
I only experimented with it a little bit because I am working on another story this morning, but it looks like the default is to take you the most direct route rather than trying to keep you on less traveled streets.
I tried getting from the Campbell and Limberlost area to the UA using the bicycling directions. It had me take Mountain all the way down to the UA, which makes sense.
When I moved the start point closer to First Avenue, it took me down First Avenue rather than using Mountain again.
I tried to embed a map into the site to let you check it out, but for some reason you can’t embed the bike maps yet. Hopefully, that will change.
Instead, I recorded a quick screencast showing how it works:
Here are a few screen shots I took:
Check it out and let me know what you think in the comment section.
Update: Here is the link to Google’s own blog describing the feature. They say they weight bike trails heavily and try to route you on those, but I didn’t see that happening.
This link has the entire list of cities.