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Better than a dedicated GPS unit? Or do the directions still have a way to go?

Google Maps rolled out cycling directions earlier this year in the UK, having been available in the USA for a couple of years, and now the internet giant has added including voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation, right from your Android handset.

It's worth noting that the cycle directions are still in beta, which is just as well, as we've found some of the routes to be, er, interesting.

Sometimes it works; for example asking for a route between our Bath HQ and Bristol Temple Meads station takes you along the Bath-Bristol cycle path rather than the misery of the A4. That's thanks to Sustrans' involvement, informing Google of the location of the National Cycle Network.

Google Maps bike navigation also tries to route you around big hills, which might be a good thing, depending on how much of a masochist you are.

But many users have noted that the service gives poorer results than CycleStreets, the established route planner that gives a selection of routes with options for lower traffic or faster routes.

Anyway, back to the voice navigation. Smart phones often use wifi to triangulate position more accurately than by satellite alone, so some people may find it more accurate than a GPS system.

Have you used voice navigation on your smart phone? Let us know how you got on in the comments below.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

5 comments

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nowasps [429 posts] 3 years ago
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My problem with the cycle-friendly routes, is that it can't distinguish quiet lanes from MTB-only tracks.

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steff [81 posts] 3 years ago
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Aye, that's happened to me. Also, it doesn't yet know that some roads, while legal to cycle on, aren't a great plan. Thus it will cheerfully send you up a dual carriageway with 70mph traffic rather than the adjacent B-road, which almost certainly not what you want unless you're a very brave time triallist.

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nowasps [429 posts] 3 years ago
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Not forgetting directing you the wrong way along one-way streets.

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Carlton Reid [132 posts] 3 years ago
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Good to see Google trying to catch up with the Bike Hub iPhone/Android app which has has had satnav-style voice navigation from the start.

But Google Maps does not yet have the richness of bike route data that OpenStreetMap has.

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lushmiester [187 posts] 3 years ago
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Google definitely in catch up mode. They need to tap into local knowledge more and link that up with their partners Sustrans to make more practical routes for long distance cyclist or those who like to travel out of area from time to time. City guides from what I hear also need some work. Having said that it is a good start and I am sure it will improve with time, this will be quicker if users make comments on the routes maps suggest.