Google Maps to add bike maps, directions

Cyclists will be able to use Google Maps to plot directions around 150 U.S. cities when bike directions go live on Google later on Tuesday.

Google Maps is set to provide a new option for getting around town: biking directions.

The company plans to unveil what it called "the most requested addition to Google Maps" during the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. Google Maps users looking for directions between two points will now have the option of selecting "bicycling" from the current drop-down menu that lets you customize a journey with walking, driving, or public transportation options.

Anyone who has ever tried to bike across San Francisco knows the value of a good bike map in helping to avoid 200-foot hills and city streets that behave more like freeways. Google Maps users have created their own bike maps for cities like New York and Minneapolis, but Google itself hadn't taken that step until now.

Google obtained much of its data from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy in putting together the maps, and will have detailed information on bike routes in 150 U.S. cities as of Tuesday night's launch, said Shannon Guymon, Google Maps product manager.

Bikers will be able to find bike-only paths, bike lanes on city streets, and bike-friendly streets when searching for directions using the tool. Google will also include an estimated travel time alongside the results that factor in hills and fatigue.

What's the second-most requested feature for Google Maps? Hiking trails, Guymon said.

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