By Sandy Bauers
This morning, Google announced that it has added bicycle maps for 149 cities in the U.S. -- including Philadelphia -- to its mapping function. Cycling advocates had been asking for this, and Google delivered.
You can see more about, including a tutorial on how to use it, at this official Google blog.
I just tried a Philadelphia Route, asking it to take me from Manayunk to the Inquirer building at 400 N. Broad, and sure enough, the route took me down the Schuylkill River Trail, as expected. Then it had me turn left at Art Museum Drive, right at Pennsylvania Avenue, left at Spring Garden and right at North Broad. You can see the route here.
What it didn't tell me in the printed directions was whether there are bike lanes along any of those roads, or whether I'm on my own in the car lanes. I would think that would be important information.
Google says that the bike routes are indicated on the map itself by green lines (dark green for a bike-only trail, light green for a designated bike lane on a road and dashed green for roads preferred for cycling, but without dedicated lanes). But I found this confusing, the blue line showing the route to take obscured the green lines. It almost looked like Spring Garden was a bike-only route and the bike-only route along the Schuylkill was shared with cars. Zooming in on the map, I saw a dotted line for Chestnut street, but no notation for the new bike lanes on Spruce and Pine. Guess it's all still developing.
Several maps showing city and regional routes are on the website of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.