10/04/09

Biking Walking & Blogging - Google Biking vs. CyclopathBiking Walking & Blogging - Google Biking vs. Cyclopath

Google Biking vs. Cyclopath
By Jamez Smith, Program Assistant


Like many, I recently heard that Google has added biking directions to Google Maps. This prompted me to wonder how Google Maps compares to local biking geowiki, Cyclopath.

To put the systems to the test, I typed in my work commute from 42nd Ave & Lake St. in Minneapolis to Selby & Dale in St. Paul. Comparisons being odious, I have to say, they're both pretty cool!
Google Biking has all the wonderful features we've come to expect from Google Maps: ease of use, satellite imagery, and speed.


The most glaring difference is that the Google suggestion would have me turning right off of Marshall onto Snelling. Snelling is otherwise known as Highway 51, a four-lane thoroughfare; with traffic easily going in excess of 40mph. Google then suggests turning left from Snelling onto Selby. Looks good on the screen, but Selby is also a fairly busy street, and the incline of the railroad overpass leading to Hamline is not readily apparent.

Rather than make that risky right turn onto Snelling, Cyclopath suggests staying on Marshall past Snelling into the more residential Lexington-Hamline neighborhood, turning right once reaching Syndicate, then making a final left on to Selby.

Again, with Selby being a fairly busy thoroughfare, this isn't necessarily ideal for all riders... but here is where Cyclopath stands out: it's completely interactive. With Cyclopath I can input alternative routes, suitable to my own tastes or comfort. Moreover, my updates remain on the site for the use of others.

Cyclopath also provides information reflecting degree of difficulty, inclines, unofficial paths/shortcuts, and construction activity.
With Google, routes can be updated via "click&drag," but any ‘permanent' suggestions must be submitted via an online form.

So, the comparison: Cyclopath is your home-grown, locally driven mapping source for biking and walking, whereas Google Biking is your world-wide option.