Google Maps is making it easier for bikeshare users to navigate their city with an update to Maps now rolling out across 10 major markets. Already, Google Maps could point users to bikesharing locations and it has long since offered cycling directions between any two points. The new update, however, will combine both walking and biking directions in order to provide end-to-end navigation between docked bikeshare locations.
That is, Google Maps will first provide detailed walking directions to your nearest bikeshare location before providing turn-by-turn directions to the bikeshare closest to your destination. It then offers the final leg of the trip between the bikeshare drop-off and your destination as walking directions.
Before, users planning to use a bikeshare would have to create three separate trips -- one to the first bikeshare to pick up a bike, the second to the bikeshare drop-off point and then walking directions to their final destination. Now, you can plan this outing as one single trip in Google Maps in the supported markets.
In addition to the new end-to-end navigation, Google Maps in some cities will also display links that allow you to open the relevant bikeshare mobile app in order to book and unlock the bike.
The feature is rolling out over the weeks ahead in 10 cities, in partnership with transportation information company Ito World and supported bikeshare partners. These include the following markets:
- Chicago, U.S. (Divvy/Lyft)
- New York City, U.S. (Citi Bike/Lyft)
- San Francisco Bay Area, U.S. (Bay Wheels/Lyft)
- Washington, DC, U.S. (Capital Bikeshare/Lyft)
- London, England (Santander Cycles/TfL)
- Mexico City, Mexico (Ecobici)
- Montreal, Canada (BIXI/Lyft)
- Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (Bike Itaú)
- São Paulo, Brazil (Bike Itaú)
- Taipei and New Taipei City, Taiwan (YouBike)
Google says it's actively working to add more partners to bring the functionality to more cities in the months ahead.
The launch of the new feature again one-ups Apple Maps, which recently announced it was catching up with Google Maps by adding a dedicated cycling option within Apple Maps that will optimize routes for cyclists. Apple's new biking directions can even show if a route includes challenging hills or there's a bike repair shop nearby, if desired.
Ito World also noted in March it had partnered with Apple to integrate bikeshare data into Apple Maps, allowing iPhone owners to find bikeshare locations across 179 cities.
But Google continues to offer more detailed bikeshare information in its Google Maps product, having over the years launched features like dockless bike and scooter integration with Lime in more than 100 cities and real-time docked bikeshare information in select cities to show availability of bikes for rent.
Offering better biking directions has become even more of a competitive product in recent months for mapping providers, due to the coronavirus outbreak's impact on travel and transportation. Some commuters, for example, have shifted to using bikes for their trips instead of relying on public transportation, like buses and subways. Google notes this impact has also been reflected in growing worldwide search interest for phrases like "bike repair shop near me," which hit an all-time high in July -- more than double what it was last year.
The updated bikeshare navigation is rolling out in the coming weeks, says Google.