Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
City bike routes going on Google next week
The snow and ice suggest otherwise, but life for the Winnipeg cyclist just became a little easier.
In an announcement at the Sustainable Mobility Conference in Ottawa Monday, Internet search engine giant Google has added Winnipeg to its list of Canadian cities that will have bike routes available online for those looking for the best path to take on two wheels.
With Google Bike Directions, scheduled to be added to Google Maps during the next week, users can pore over city-fed bike maps using the popular web atlas to chart a course for their daily commute.
Comprehensive maps of various bike routes and paths are already available on the city's website, but Winnipeg Trails Association director Janice Lukes was thrilled to find out Google has added the city to its new mapping feature.
"We have all this new infrastructure and many people don't know where it is," she said. "This will encourage those who are looking to get out on the weekends or do a little riding after work."
What has the cycling community excited about the Google Maps addition is the reach it will have to those contemplating ditching their vehicle for a bike.
Jeff Martin, owner of Alter Ego Sports, feels the undecided might finally decide to switch to a two-wheeler permanently, thanks to Google Maps. Not every trail or dedicated bike lane is visible from behind the wheel, he notes, so not everyone is up to speed with the layout of the city's active transportation framework.
"For the serious cyclist, they're going to ride their bikes regardless," he said. "But for the inexperienced rider, this will show them they can get from point A to point B in a safe way, especially for winter riding."
Google Bike Directions works like this: A click on the bicycle icon shows a dark green line indicating a bike-only path. A lighter green line signals a dedicated bike lane and a dotted line shows a city street that doesn't have a dedicated bike lane, but could still be suitable for riding.
The city planned to spend $20.4 million dollars on 36 bike-and-pedestrian projects under a federal stimulus program this year. Cold weather cut six of those projects short, with completion scheduled for 2011.
Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, Calgary, Gatineau and Waterloo are the other Canadian cities involved in Google's announcement. Bike-trail data for U.S. markets was added to Google Maps earlier this year.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 23, 2010 A5