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Google Maps rolls out bike routes in six European countries

Adding Germany, France, Poland, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein to the mix, the Web giant boosts mapping data for cyclists.

Google Maps highlights in green the best roads for riding a bike in Dublin, Ireland. Google

Google announced Monday that it is rolling out extensive bike directions on Google Maps in several European countries, including Germany, France, Poland, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein.

If only this had existed six years ago, I could have avoided my best friend wanting to wring my neck.

When we decided to ride our bikes on a 500-mile tour around the south of France in 2007, my one job was to map our route. I got a paper map, highlighted a loop adjoining several country roads, and off we went. Easy.

Actually, not so much.

While our ride started out pleasant, we shortly got entangled on traffic-heavy highways, lost on city streets, and stuck climbing insanely steep hills. After a week, my friend was ready to kill me. I may have mapped out a good route for a car road trip, but not for a bike tour.

It appears that Google is trying to solve situations like these.

"Back in 2012, we added biking directions to our maps for a number of countries in Europe. It proved to be a popular feature among cycling amateurs and enthusiasts," Google product manager Kai Hansen wrote in a blog post Monday. "Like in other countries, we've added information about bike trails, lanes and recommended roads directly to the map."

Google has worked with partner organizations to map out the best and up-to-date bike routes and has added hundreds of miles of bike paths through Google Mapmaker.

When users plug in A to B routes, the mapping program will show directions that avoid busy streets and makes the most of available bike paths. Google Maps also gives turn-by-turn navigation and shows the type of road surface, elevation, and auto traffic on its biking directions legend.

Google Maps debuted bike directions for much of the U.S. and Canada in 2010. It has since added in other countries around the world, including Austria, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.

Maybe now I can convince my friend to embark on another bike tour with me in one of these other countries?