Google is reading my mind.
On Wednesday morning during rush hour I was driving down to Santa Clara from San Francisco. Faithfully following the directions of several online maps, I found myself on Highway 101 but wishing I was on the more scenic, less congested and slightly out-of-the-way Interstate 280, farther west. As I inched my way along the road, I ruminated on the mapping problem and imagined how I could have avoided the situation by somehow adjusting the route on the online map to set a preference for Interstate 280, even though it isn't the most direct route to my destination.
One day later, my daydream has become reality.
Google has added a new feature to its online map site that enables you to click on a point on the route highlighted by the driving directions and drag it to some other spot to change the route. The driving directions automatically adjust. For example, had this feature been publicly available just one day earlier, I would have been able to click on the blue highlighted route running from San Francisco to Santa Clara via Highway 101 and drag it over to Interstate 280.
The system definitely favors the shorter route. In a test on Thursday, I noticed that after I redirected the Google map route to 280, it snaked back over to 101 a short distance down the road and crossed back over to 101 via some smaller road, even though the real-time traffic indicator feature on the map showed that 101 was moving slower. I kept having to click and drag the highlighted line on 101 over to 280 at spots farther down the map. Eventually, at Cupertino the route made a sudden left turn onto Highway 237 and took me straight to the Santa Clara Convention Center at 5001 Great America Parkway.
This feature will be great for helping drivers avoid known obstacles like bad traffic and construction, and for me to be able to get to destinations in the South Bay without having to suffer through Highway 101's stop-and-go, billboard-polluted environment.
I'm off now to fantasize about a way that Google could help me get an iPhone for free.