More people are discovering what they can do with a bicycle as the transportation picture shifts during the coronavirus pandemic. Google Maps reported a 69% increase in requests for bicycling directions since February and is handling record high demand. So, in response to this demand, it is patching up a hole in its offerings by introducing biking directions centered on journeys with docked bikeshare systems.
Google is working with transport data platform Ito World as well as bikeshare operators and governments to offer real-time navigation data at docking locations which users will see when they ask for directions. They will also get any first- and last-mile walking orders and, in some cities, a direct link to their local bikeshare app.
Ten systems come online in the next few weeks:
- Chicago - Divvy
- New York City - Citi Bike
- San Francisco Bay Area - Bay Wheels
- Washington - Capital Bikeshare
- London - Santander Cycles
- Mexico City - Ecobici
- Montreal - BIXI
- Rio De Janeiro - Bike Itaú
- São Paulo - Bike Itaú
- Metro Taipei - YouBike
More will join the list soon. We don't know if the app will push an alert if the destination station's docks fill up.
Maps integrated live docked bikeshare station data last year, but availability numbers were never seen in directions prior to this announcement. It's a small improvement that saves users from a whole bunch of scrolls and taps.
Google is also handling a surge in new bike path data from local governments partaking in stimulus infrastructure spending. If you spot a spiffy new lane that's not yet seen in Maps, you can point your town hall toward the Geo Data Upload tool to fix that.