Google have just launched bike routing in various cities around the United States, after involving the cycling community there. A few people have asked us (and our US-based equivalent, Ride The City) what we think.
The simple answer is that more availability of bike routing is a good thing.
There is undoubtedly space for CycleStreets, Google and others to co-exist: each will have their own benefits and niches, and competition means that everyone ends up with a better product.
Google’s US bike routing sends an even clearer message that cycling is a normal and realistic form of transport, something which we as campaigners have argued for years. It also increases the use-case justification for online cycle routing being part of the interventions needed to help get more people cycling as part of their everyday lives.
In other words: systems like CycleStreets and whatever Google may come up with in the future in the UK are good for promoting cycling, which is the only reason CycleStreets exists.
If anything, when Google decide to do UK cycle routing, we think it will be more of a threat to the Government’s Transport Direct portal, who will find it increasing difficult to justify spending public money on a closed system while commercial and community enterprises are doing the same thing better and more innovatively – in ways which involve the cycling community.