Google Maps Adds Walking Directions

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John Leschinski avatarGoogle Maps LogoGoogle Maps today released a new feature for those wanting to find directions for walking. The new feature ignores the direction of one-way streets, uses pedestrian-only paths, and tires to avoid hills.

If your trip is under 10 km you’ll be presented with a link for step by step walking directions. If public transit data is available, and it is not in London, it will give you improved directions for the nearest transit station. Google notes that the service is in beta however, and is not fully aware of every pedestrian pathway, special pedestrian bridges, or if sidewalks exists on the route.

Directions from my apartment to Richmond and Dundas by car differ slightly from the walking directions. Trips seems to be on average nine to ten times longer by foot, the driving directions taking 9 minuets and the walking directions take an hour. On a longer trip past the 401 the walking directions shys from major roads and finds a route under the highway, where as the driving directions are much more direct.

Walking is a great way to get around if you don’t have a car and want to take in the city. Take advantage of the new feature and see if your more frequent routes have a better path.

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4 Responses to “Google Maps Adds Walking Directions”

  1. Kevin Says:

    We are big on GIS (which google maps is the simplest form of) and the issue of walk ability in my workplace, these two things form the body of our research. When I got notice that this was up and running on google maps now I was all excited. I quickly checked them out for London and my excited then went away.

    Sure these walking directions take into consideration one way streets that pedestrians can walk against and a couple of other road types, but for the case of London thats it.

    It doesnt look at pathways, pedestrian walkways or other things of the like. Disappointed to say the least.

    And yes I know that London isnt a major city and it took us long enough to get aerial photography for our city (old photography at that) and that we arent a priority like Toronto, New York or the like. Yes I know that this feature is currently in “Beta” use, and wont be fully operational for some time, years perhaps. (Beta: a word that is synonymous with anything that Google offers)

    So my beef is this: why offer something up for a city when its pretty much useless. Wait to offer it to London when you have all the data you need and can offer a product that will actually help some people out.

    Google, I like and use your product probably more than the next person, but as usual you have overlooked the simple things and rushed something out the door before it should have been.

  2. John Leschinski Says:

    From what I’ve heard it’s up to municipalities to provide Google with information like public transit options, and I would assume it to be the case with pedestrian pathways. If a reliable source sent them the data in a format they could use I’m sure they’d be willing to update the maps.

    Personally, I’ve never found any of the pedestrian pathways to be any help in getting somewhere in London, unless I want to double the time it takes, and I’d probably rather walk on a sidewalk then a pathway after 6.

  3. fowgre Says:

    I’m making a note to myself to send an inquiry about this to Google. I’d hate to have to rely on our city to provide such data, given it’s lack of respect for pedestrians.

    As for help in getting places, you must simply not have to go the same places that I do. Because of the way that developers have been allowed to configure neighbourhoods in a non-grid fashion, there are many examples where pedestrian travel would be greatly lengthened if not for the presence of a walkway. They don’t double the time that it takes, they shorten it.

    Your comment about after-6 safety is valid, but that’s not because walkways are inherently unsafe of themselves. It’s simply the consequence of this city not spending the money to light walkways, and the failure to factor pedestrian safety into the planning process. Maybe that will change if I’m successful in getting appointed to TAC and CSCPAC. Maybe that’s why it’s taking them so long to decide whether to appoint me 😉

  4. John Leschinski Says:

    I live in the grid, and I mostly go downtown or to Masonville, so most of the pedestrian and cycle ways here are the long way around.

    Any sort of pathway 50-100 yards away from buildings or streets, regardless of lights, would be intimidating for most.

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