'Bike there' directions coming to Google Maps

Google is adding bike paths to its online mapping tool, and expects to make biking directions available "soon."

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    An official Google blog post seems to point to "bike there" directions for Google Maps in the near future.
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From the "Segways not included" department.

Is Google Maps getting bicycle directions? Buried in a post about new datasets on the Lat/Long blog last week was a little tidbit that's raising eyebrows with the pedal power set.

Google's Andrew Lookingbill writes:

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The best part about this new dataset is that we've been able to add a lot of new, detailed information to Google Maps - information that helps people better explore and get around the real world. For example, college students will be pleased to see maps of many campuses; and cyclists will now find many more trails and paths to explore. Soon we even plan on providing you with biking directions to take advantage of this new data. Of course, in the true Google spirit of "launch and iterate," we plan to work with more data sources to add new features in the map.

The push for a Google Maps "bike there" feature has many supporters – 50,000 on one site alone. When Google Maps first launched, it just included driving directions. Walking directions launched in June of last year, and public transportation integration has been trickling out for major cities along the way.

Those who can't wait for the official Google Maps "bike there" tool can use a number of third-party sites that piggyback on Google's offering. One, Bike Route Toaster, lets users map out their routes (provided they know where they want to go) and upload them to certain Garmin GPS units (including the Nüviphone we reviewed last month).

A look back at Google Maps shows a history of innovation – and controversy. There's Google Street view, which imposes street-level pictures on places. It was praised, then protested, used for artistic inspiration, and even targeted by legislation for privacy and terrorism concerns.

Bicycles hold a special place in the hearts of Innovation bloggers. Recently we've told you about a Cannondale commuter that looks like someone's cut off the rear triangle, an innovative bike sharing concept that generates energy and gives it back to the grid, and the arrival of electric bikes at Best Buy. And of course, for that Google-Mapped bike commute, there's our round-up of gadgets for the bike commuter.

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