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Google adds biking directions to Android's Google Maps

Any urbanite knows that directions aren't created equally, especially if you're a cyclist looking to keep your limbs intact while pedaling down dangerous, car-choked streets. Google's new mapping tools for bike-riders lends a hand to two-wheeled riders.

Any urbanite knows that directions aren't created equally. Pedestrians can usually go wherever their feet can take them, but road traffic has to contend with hated one-way streets. Don't even get us started on cyclists. Luckily for bike riders toting Android phones in their messenger bags, a few days after Google added directions specifically for cyclists, the Maps team rolled biking guidance into the Android app.

Google Maps for Android gets biking directions.
Will charting a cycle route keep down the number of bike accidents? We hope so. Google

Now cyclists who download the updated Google Maps 4.2 application from the Android Market can find optimal routes for their two-wheelers--both in the directions module and as a map layer that color codes different types of bike-friendly roads and paths.

Just be forewarned that the maps and directions are in beta mode, and that they're currently operational in the U.S. only, and only for phones running version 1.6 and above of the Android operating system.

In addition to bike-friendly mapping, a new shortcut handily puts Google Maps navigation on the home screen for drivers--the only mode of transport for which voice guidance is available--so you can pop open voice navigation without digging around your apps list.

Google's mobile maps team has also made it possible to share places with friends thanks to a sharing module that can link you to e-mail, text message, Facebook, and other social outlets.