The “Autopia” blog at Wired has an article summarizing some feedback they have collected on the new “bike route” function in Google Maps. Most of the reaction seems to be pretty consistent with my initial, quick check: on the whole, the system does a pretty good job of finding routes, but sometimes is tripped up by lack of specific local information. For example, the article cites one Washington DC cyclist who was given a route through the security area between the White House and the Treasury Department. In general, the system has better “knowledge” of bike trails and other specifically designated bike routes (e.g., bike lanes on streets) than it does of good or bad cycling conditions on roads in general.
The service is still in its early stages, so some problems like this are to be expected. On the whole, the users interviewed seemed fairly satisfied. Google does include a “Report a Problem” link on the map pages, and apparently is fairly responsive to suggestions for better routes:
The bottom line is Google Maps for bikes shows great promise. Yeah, it’s a bit rough and there are some bugs, but as Shad Holland of Minnesota noted, “What does ‘beta’ mean? Duh!”
Google sent Holland down a road he didn’t find particularly bike-friendly, so he let them know. The same went for John Kittell, who said he reported a problem and Google fixed it within a couple of days.
As I’ve said before, I am pleased to see Google offer this service. If you do try it, and find places where it needs improvement, please do take the time to help all of us by suggesting improvements.