(Pocket-lint) - Google is updating Google Maps so that it's a bit more environmentally (and pandemic?) friendly. It can now show you directions for docked rental bikes.
It works with ride-sharing rental bikes such as Citi Bike in New York City or Santander Cycles in London. It basically first gives you walking directions to get to a bike that's nearby and docked, and then it gives you cycling directions between various docks. It also shows you walking directions from your last dock to your destination. It's very similar to another feature it offers for scooters and bikes that don't need to be docked.
Google Maps has also long offered navigation for traditional bikes, but here's how Google describes its newest biking feature in a blog post:
"To give you the most up-to-date bike route, we use a combination of machine learning, complex algorithms, and our understanding of real-world conditions based on imagery and data from government authorities and community contributions. We also consider various forms of bike lanes and nearby streets that might be less friendly for your two wheels (like tunnels, stairs and poor surface conditions) so you can have the best and smoothest biking route. You can also see how flat or steep your route will be, so you’ll know if you’re in for an easy breezy ride or one that will really get the heart pumping.
Perhaps most interestingly, Google noted that, since the start of the pandemic in February, requests for cycling directions in Google Maps have jumped by 69 per cent. Google suggested people are using bikes to either stay in shape or to safely commute. "As biking habits change, especially as things evolve with COVID-19, we’re constantly updating this information to help you uncover the most reliable bike route," Google said.
Google Maps' new feature will roll out this summer to 10 cities: Chicago, New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington DC, London, Mexico City, Montreal, Rio De Janeiro, Sao Paulo, and Taipei and New Taipei City. Google said more cities be supported in the coming months.