Bicycling enthusiasts in Europe (of which there are many) are getting a present from Google today with the addition of biking directions in Google Maps for six new countries. Cyclists in Germany, France, Poland, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Liechtenstein can now pull down routes that take into account the available biking trails, paths, and lanes. This applies to mobile and desktop apps.

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When biking directions are selected in Google Maps, it chooses routes that avoid busy streets, and sends riders down dedicated bike paths where available. Google worked with other organizations in a few countries to catalog all the bike paths, but several hundred kilometers of trails were added by users. If Google missed any, you can still have them added by reporting a problem.

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Turn-by-turn navigation for biking on Android works just like it does for a car, but the usual warnings about beta products and being aware of your surroundings still apply. The new rollout also includes the biking layer, which is enabled by default when you search for cycling directions. It can be toggled from the layers menu if you just want to see where nearby bike trails and bike-friendly roads are. Google's European biking data also includes some more scenic rides, like stages from the Tour de France.

These new countries join the likes of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK, which got biking data last year.

[Google Europe Blog]