Google is finally introducing bike maps and directions in the UK. US users have long been able to get directions for bike travels as Google has data for bike trails, bike-friendly roads and so on. No such data was available in the UK, until today.
Thanks to a boatload of mapping data from Sustrans, a British organization that encourages biking as a sustainable mode of transportation, the bike directions feature works in the UK as well.
And, because both the web version of Google Maps and the app versions already had support for the feature, UK users don't really have to do anything to get the new stuff, just wait for the map data to go live.
"In a ground-breaking move for cyclists and would-be cyclists, National Cycle Network routes across the UK can now be navigated online using a new bicycle symbol on Google Maps, alongside the options of driving, public transport and walking," Sustrans announced.
"Safety is the number one concern for people who want to ride their bikes and now it's easier than ever to find the safest way to get from a to b on two wheels," Sustrans' Chief Executive, Malcolm Shepherd, said.
"Google has given cycling equal status to driving and using public transport – we need our politicians and local councils to do the same," he added.
Biking directions has been one of the most requested features in the UK, and elsewhere, so it's nice to see Google finally making it possible there, even if it wasn't able to do it on its own.
It's interesting to note though that the map data didn't come from some governmental agency or from some company, it came from a nonprofit promoting alternative transportation methods. Unlike many nonprofits out there, this one went beyond "raising awareness" and actually did something to make it easier for people to use their bikes to travel.