- Google Maps directions received a significant update that caters to people who don’t want to drive or use public transportation for their commutes.
- The feature comes in handy during the coronavirus pandemic, as some people may be actively avoiding crowded means of transportation.
- The new direction feature targets cyclists, as Google Maps directions now support docked bike-sharing services. The navigation experience will include walking information to and from the closest bike-sharing station.
Google Maps is one of the best navigation and direction apps on mobile devices. No matter how you travel from point A to point B, Google Maps will get you there. Driving, public transit, biking, and walking, as well as a combination thereof, will help you reach your destination. Google has updated the app through the coronavirus lockdowns with features meant to help you better navigate the pandemic, and the company just released a brand new feature that fits great with the current state of the health crisis.
The feature was teased in recent leaks, and it isn’t about driving your car or planning your commute via public transit. It’s about turning bikes into an even more efficient way of getting to your destination.
Google explains in a new announcement that requests for cycling directions in Google Maps increased by 69% since February, hitting an all-time high last month. On top of that, Google says that worldwide search interest for “bike repair near me” hit an all-time high this month, more than double what it was last year.
It’s not just that summer arrived, or that biking is an excellent way of taking advantage of the weather (especially if you’ve been stuck indoors for the past few months) — riding a bike can also be faster than driving a car and safer than sharing public transit with other people right now.
With that in mind, Google is delivering an important update to cycling navigation in Maps, which significantly improves the experience for cyclists who don’t have their own bikes but instead use the various bike-sharing services — like Citi Bike — available in their cities to commute to work.
Going forward, Google will offer docked bike-share directions in 10 cities, and the feature will likely be expanded to more regions in the future. What that means is that you can select a starting point and a destination in Maps, and Google will tell you exactly how long you have to walk to the closest bike-sharing station with bikes available. It will then provide turn-by-turn directions to the bike-share station closest to your destination, as well as walking directions from the station where you drop off your rental bike to your destination.
It might not seem like a big deal, but the feature offers a smarter, faster way to navigate the city with bike-sharing services. You’ll know exactly where you can find a bike and where you’ll drop it off respective to your departure and arrival points, and you’ll have a general idea of how long the trip will take from start to finish.
Google will work with Ito World and bike-share partners around the world to bring the feature to Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Washington, London, Mexico City, Montreal, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo, Taipei, and New Taipei City. Other locations will be supported in the future.