Thursday 15 January 2015

Web and Phone App: Google Maps

Overall, Google Maps is by far the most comprehensive, useful and efficient mapping app for cyclists in any location. If riding somewhere new the first thing you should do is look it up in Google Maps and turn on the Bicycling layer. While the recommended routes in Biking Directions are generally not optimal they are a starting point and provide useful elevation profile comparisons. Street View offers an excellent heads up on actual route conditions. Turning on the Terrain layer tells you where the biggest hills are in your area. Saving destinations as Favourites allows you to easily look up routes from your smartphone or get directions between your Home/Work (favourites) and the destination. Using GPS, it can also provide Turn by Turn voice and visual directions on your smartphone (which you can attach to your handlebar with a Finn).

Google Maps is not perfect though. Open Street Maps typically has much more accurate cycling infrastructure (Google Maps often marks non-existent bike lanes). Ride With GPS is more useful for plotting routes in hilly areas as it shows gradients in addition to elevation - gradients are more critical to plotting an easier route. The Strava Labs heatmap can show you which routes most cyclists currently take (though it combines transport and recreational). For Melbourne, my Melbourne Grid Map provides a connected, non-redundant grid of recommended routes. Similar, "subjective grids" are worthwhile finding for your city.

> Google Maps web app
> Google Maps for Mobile

Related BetterByBicycle Posts:
> See the routes and maps category.

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