If you think about it, you couldn’t blame Cyclists for hoping that at least a few intriguing new technological developments might come out of a geek-powered event named the Sustainable Mobility Summit. Thankfully that’s exactly what happened this past week at the 2010 Summit held in Ottawa Ontario, where Google Maps announced that its new Bike Directions service, which had already launched in the United States this past March, is now also coming to eight Canadian cities as well. Conference-goers were the first to learn that Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton Calgary, Winnipeg, Gatineau, and Waterloo, and Vancouver, will all be getting mapped out with Google’s Bike Directions. Furthermore, as the host city for the Summit, Ottawa will have the distinct honour of being the first bike-friendly urban center to boast GoogleMap’s new Bike Directions features here in Canada!
What’s interesting though, isn’t just what this service offers us here in the Present, but what it can evolve into in the very near Future…
The most obvious feature of this service are the colour-codes on various to show their suitability for biking. Dark green lines to indicate dedicated bike-only trails; lighter green is for dedicated bike lanes along roads, and dotted green lines are for roads that don’t have bike lanes but would at least be suitable for biking.
The new Bike Directions are directly integrated into Google Maps, so just as you can currently click for transit, walking, or driving directions, you’ll soon be able to also plan your bike route as well with a single click. Perhaps it won’t be too long at all before we see Transit and Bike routes being integrated for maximum hybridized effect, and we can finally start seeing much more use being made of those mostly empty and much maligned TTC bike-racks!
For now the feedback loop for creating future benefits is already expected to be quite good, since bike riders can already use the reporting tool on GoogleMaps to send in information and feedback on routes…Thus incrementally making the service better for everyone over time, and possibly creating the basis for a new way to report on traffic and even road surface hazards that could seriously injure Cyclists…Could the City be far behind in making use of this service in their own reporting procedures?
How about the collective design of “Collaborative Bike Routes” ?
At least for now…
We can still count on
Rogue Road Warriors to mark out some of the pitfalls !