Google Bike Maps? Fuhgeddaboudit

New search service sends New York cyclists into prohibited lanes and onto streets filled with careening trucks and crazed cabbies.

Paul McDougall, Editor At Large, InformationWeek

March 11, 2010

2 Min Read

Google's new mapping service for bike riders is drawing gufffaws and worse from New Yorkers who liken the California-based search giant to a clueless tourist who thinks the Battery's up and The Bronx is down.

"A helmet may not be enough to protect cyclists from Google Maps' latest feature," declared the New York Post, in a story published Thursday.

Google's bike maps are "filled with potentially fatal flaws, including routes that cut across Central Park's treacherous transverse roads and steer cyclists through truck-riddled thoroughfares," the Post said.

Post reporters who tried out the service noted several instances where Google either sent them on the wrong route or put them in harm's way from careening yellow cabs or multi-ton delivery vehicles even though safer routes were available.

Among the problems uncovered by the Post were directions that put cyclists onto stretches of Central Park off limits to two-wheelers, across the wrong side of the George Washington Bridge, and also onto a number of streets and avenues filled with dangerous traffic.

A Google spokesperson acknowledged to the newspaper that the maps are imperfect and said the company, which operates from a leafy campus in Mountain View, Calif., is working to improve its knowledge of Gotham.

Google introduced the new service, an add-on to Google Maps, with a blog post Wednesday from product manager Shannon Guymon. Without a hint of irony, Guymon said Google didn't want to roll out the service until it was perfect.

"My team has been keeping close tabs on all the public support for biking directions that's been steadily coming in," Guymon wrote. "But we knew that when we added the feature, we wanted to do it right," said Guymon.

Guymon's team, apparently, needs to learn more about what it takes to get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice.

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About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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