More than 13,000 miles of British cycle lanes will appear on Google’s online mapping system for the first time from 5pm today, in an effort to encourage more people to travel by bike.
The Google Maps software will come in especially handy in London next month, with drivers and rail users being advised to seek alternative modes of transport during the Olympics. The largest online mapping system in the world has previously listed only journeys by road, public transport or foot in Britain. In the US and Canada, cycle routes have been available since 2010.
A “bicycling” option will appear in the “bird’s eye view” menu (alongside traffic, photos, weather, terrain), allowing users to see cycle routes in their area. These will be divided into bike trails (where there are no motor vehicles), streets with bike lanes and streets recommended for cyclists.Google has worked with Sustrans, the cycling charity, to plot most of Britain’s existing cycle lanes. City councils and government departments have also provided data.
Since February, The Times has been running a Cities fit for cycling campaign which calls on ministers, local councils and businesses to improve provision for cyclists. Kai Hansen, product manager for Google Maps Europe, said that one challenge had been to balance safety and speed when generating ideal cycle routes through urban areas. “If you’re in a car you have two things on your mind. The first is getting from A to B as quickly as possible. The second is: ‘I don’t want to sit in traffic’. With biking, there’s a bunch of other opportunities to use data. You don’t want to climb massive hills, you don’t want to go on the motorway but you probably also don’t want to go through the main thoroughfares. There are also trails that are specifically set up for bikes. We’ve tried to get our hands on as much data as possible in regards to where biking is actually possible. We’ve modified the algorithm that calculates the ideal route to take into account the conditions of cycling.”
Last month the Department for Transport pledged to use a map of cycling blackspots compiled by readers of The Times to direct £15 million of funding to improve dangerous road junctions. More than 10,000 people used the map to highlight the worst roads and to recommend improvements.
However, Nicky Stocks, from Sustrans, said that there was still not enough funding to provide the amount of
To read the whole story, visit here: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/cyclesafety/article3471805.ece
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