Map Spring Rides on Google

Google Maps announced today that it has added support for generating bicycle directions. See the video above for an intro. This is listed as a beta feature and is apparently only available in 150 or cities. Albany happens to be one, so I gave it a go by typing in a few common destinations.

The routes appear mostly workable though far from ideal. They thankfully avoid busy, highly trafficked roads and give some preference to flatter routes. What few biking infrastructure amenities Albany possesses don’t seem to be part of the Google database. My usual route from Albany to Troy utilizes the Hudson River hike and bike trail for most of the distance, while the Google generated route substituted a long stretch on a two-lane road with an average speed limit of 45 miles per hour–not my first choice.

It will be interesting to watch this service develop. I certainly plan on using it but will likely do so in conjunction with other route-finding services (where they exist).

Portland Bicycling Spins Business Spin

More bicycling goodness from the New York Times. Apparently, creating a friendly bicycle culture is good for the bicycling business–just look at Portland. The punch line here goes something like “we went for sustainability and got a better economy, too.” No surprise there except that the business activity was noticed at all. After all, bottom line contributions from bike culture industries must be a fraction of other cultural institutions, even in a city like Portland. Not to poo-poo the article, but isn’t part of bicycle culture envisioning a smaller, more local, more easily customized economic reality?  Its a vision that works great at the Better Business Bureau but that may not have such long legs at City Hall. Regardless…bully for Portland.

Oh, did I mention how nice it was to notice great bicycle commuting infrastructure in the Bay Area during my recent visit?