It’s pretty awesome.
Yesterday, Google debuted its new biking feature at the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C., and so far, it's rating highly with local cyclists. Tessa Greegor, spokeswoman for Cascade Bicycle Club, notes that the new feature, located in Google maps, edges out Ride the City—another popular bike-route mapping service—in several ways.
For example, Greegor lives in north Ballard, and “when I mapped my route to work, Google bikes used crossing the [Ballard] Locks as an option. Ride the City doesn’t give you that route as a choice, even though taking the Locks is the safest and most direct route over Ship Canal and into downtown Seattle.”
Like Ride the City, Google biking highlights the different causeways on the route (street, trail, dedicated bike lane), although unlike Ride the City, it also shows them through the Google mapping views: satellite, street, and standard map mode.
Google biking doesn’t have route options (Safe, Safer, and Direct Route) like Ride the City, which is an excellent feature for new riders who are relearning their city on bike. Nor does it give you elevation gains/losses for your ride. But it does color-code trails, dedicated bike lanes, and roads “without bike lanes but [that] are more appropriate for biking." The service also allows you to see traffic patterns at different times of day, which is great for commuters (you can even see predicted traffic patterns at specific days/times), and it has a topographic view mode (found under terrain view).
Overall, Google biking gives riders a good sense of what’s happening on the ground and what the quality of the ride will be, says Greegor. Google also partnered with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to map out 12,000 miles of bike trails across the nation. "Overall, it's a huge resource for new and experienced cyclists," Greegor says.