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5 responses to “Google’s ‘Bike There’: The dark side”

  1. Adam Bejan Parast

    As someone that is working extensively with both Portland and Seattle’s bicycle facility GIS data I would point out that most if not all of these irregularities are a result incomplete GIS data that the cities have. I completely agree that google should make an effort to “clean up” the data but from my perspective the cities are the ones that really need to lead that effort. In the end the cities are the ones that are and should be ultimately responsible for having good data for use both internally, for private companies or in my case research. If private companies do this it will be much harder to share as well as verify that it is accurate.

    I’m from Seattle and I have played around with the feature for Seattle and found problems but in general it is mostly correct. The places that I did find errors, I know were caused by lack or incorrect data because I have experienced the same problems in my project.

  2. RJ

    You were thinking 5 months is a long time? That’s funny! I was guessing that Google probably spent years, not months on it! But I have no real knowledge from which to judge whether it should have been “easy” or “hard” to get it done. I assumed that it would take a long time to get all that data. However long it took– it doesn’t affect my experience of using Google Maps “bike there,” unless they didn’t spend ENOUGH time on it! 🙂

    Sure, would have been nice for every conceivable route to be ridden by a bicyclist– but that would take a very, very long time and cost quite a lot of money. Yes, I know, “deep pockets,” but it’s a business and cost vs. profit/benefit must be weighed. But hey, we got “Bike There” sooner, it IS in BETA form (which I think nullifies criticism anyhow, since this is not the finished product) and cyclists are typically eager to share information about where to ride (as opposed to drivers). I’ve seen so many blog posts now about “well.. Google sent me THIS way, but *I* ride my bike this way and blah blah” whatever.

    So.. I guess I just don’t have the qualms that you do! I know that it’s in Beta and I know that it’ll get better.

    Just a different view.

  3. Mark K

    Despite my quibbles with “Bike There”, I do appreciate that it’s been released.

    I am one of the West Seattle cyclists who would be shunted off onto the West Seattle Bridge to get downtown, if I didn’t know better (and didn’t see that bike path running under the W. Seattle Viaduct on GOOGLE’S OWN MAPS!) Eastbound routing from West Seattle is faulty on the maps (and yes, I’ve already relayed this to Google). If you are coming from Alki, it takes you off the path well before the West Seattle Viaduct and onto the road. If you manage to drag the route to the bike path, it will let you get as far as the Chelan Cafe, then it routes you back and onto the West Seattle Bridge to get to downtown, or through a maze of surface streets to get to the Duwamish Bikeway (instead of the reasonably well marked street crossings to continue the bike routes to either).

    Given Google’s history with releasing a product tagged as beta for seven years (hello, Gmail), I can’t really give them too much of a pass on the beta status. It’s more a way for the folks at the big G to keep monkeying with things with little ownership of the problems they may cause. How many times has a software company disclaimed responsibility for problems caused by beta software?

    I do appreciate the start, and look forward to seeing it improved. The quibble with the area around the West Seattle Viaduct aside, the route it gives me to work in Tukwila is very similar to what I’ve seen in several route books/sites/lists for the same trip. Not a bad start, all in all.

  4. Tim

    I share Paul’s concerns. I did a couple tests with destinations I’m familiar with here in Austin. I found Google’s suggestions wanting in several ways. Remember, that I’m an experienced cyclist. What would a novice do?


    It’s a good start but User Beware!

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