Considering a bike ride in the Boston area? Google Maps can help you pick a route.
Google unveiled the bicycling layer to its Google Maps feature at the National Bike Summit in Washington today, the company said in a news release.
When users select the bicycling option -- under the "More ... " link -- on a map of the Boston area, a web of green strings appears. The map uses color-coded lines to depict bike-only trails (dark green), roadside bike lanes (light green), and roads without bike lanes that are more suitable for biking, depending on terrain, traffic and intersections (dotted green), the company said.
If you click on the "Get Directions" link and select the biking option, it outlines the suggested route in blue.
Suggested routes steer clear of hilly terrain whenever possible. Route time estimates are calculated based on the route’s length, the terrain, fatigue over time, and more, the company said.
Shane Jordan, director of education and outreach for the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, said the new feature is an easy way to find routes.
“I was playing around with it this morning, and it’s pretty awesome,” Jordan said. “Tools like this make it easier for new riders. If you’ve been a rider for 50 years, you probably know the good routes. But it may be the first time you've ever wanted to ride [if you haven’t].”
Google teamed up with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a non-profit that turns former rail lines into networks of trails, to map bike trails, the company said.
The feature is in beta test mode. The Web site asks that bicyclists use caution and report unmapped routes, streets that should not be used, or other problems.
Jordan has noticed some hiccups in the routes, such as routes down streets he does not believe are good for bike riding, but “literally anyone can go onto the Web site and work on it with them,” he said.
On the beat
Columnist Adrian Walker says UMass Dartmouth is shaken after revelations that one of the Marathon bomb suspects was a student there. Read more