Google Maps is a software tool used by millions all over the world. This software is arguably the best at navigating roads and showing people the quickest way of traveling from point A to point B. Cycling enthusiasts also use Google Maps as a mapping tool to help them get around.
During the early days, the cycling direction feature of Google Maps was only limited to Canada and the United States. Fast forward to the present, this bike service is now live in many European countries as well.
However, I’m not going to jump the gun and state that the feature is a finished product as there is still room for improvement.
Without beating about the bush any further, let’s get to the matter at hand!
How Quick Does Google Maps Assume You Road Bike?
This is a question trending in Google, but before we get to the nitty-gritty, let’s talk about how Google Maps calculate estimated travel time. To come up with a pretty reliable time estimate, there are various important aspects the software considers.
The software takes into consideration the official speed limit of a particular cycling route, accurate travel times from previous users, real-time traffic congestion, traffic lights, your average speed data from past sessions, and possible speeds achieved on specific road types.
The software is smart enough to consider the elevation gain of cycling routes too.
If there is an uphill in the route, it will consider a slower speed based on the distance and gradient. Likewise, downhills will facilitate a lesser estimated route travel time.
It then compiles the data from all the sources it has, uses the collated averages of speed limits in the monitored cycling directions, and comes up with a somewhat trustworthy prediction.
Now, to answer the question—Google assumes a baseline speed of around 10 miles per hour. That is how quick Google Maps presume you bike, irrespective of your cycling prowess.
In essence, the software paints everyone with the same brush.
Now, this average speed might seem ridiculously slow to a regular cyclist or too quick for a person who values safety over everything else. It all depends on which end of the spectrum you belong to.
For instance, if you are a fit cyclist, consider that you will reach your destination quicker than suggested by the software.
Why You Can’t Completely Rely on Google Maps?
There are several variables Google fails to consider when determining the estimated route time.
In addition to using a baseline speed of around 10 miles per hour for everyone, regardless of one’s biking expertise, the software also doesn’t presume that you’ll take a voluntary stop during your journey. The web mapping service doesn’t factor the breaks you take mid-rides and the time you spend navigating your map.
Additionally, Google also assumes that every cyclist is a law-abiding citizen who waits until the red lights go green, despite the coast being clear and safe to cross. The software fails to consider the weather and route surface conditions as well.
Moreover, the software is under the impression that you will reach your destination at the same time irrespective of the downpour, strong winds, heavy snowfall, and other ridiculous condition of the roads. More often than not, Google Maps regards off-road bike routes as the quicker alternative to on-road bike trails, when it is simply not the case.
Another drawback of the software is its inability to find the best route for you.
Designed to only display the quickest bike paths much like Waze, the software fails to take into account a cyclist’s preference. For instance, you may prefer a quieter or easier route over a quicker, noisier trail.
The web mapping service won’t be able to instinctively display suitable results for you. In such circumstances, you would have to search for a suitable one manually.
From what we’ve gathered, we now know that Google uses a baseline cycling speed of 10 miles per hour to calculate estimated travel time.
Now, the web mapping service has, by no means, reached its full potential yet.
Despite only being in its infancy, the software continues helping people travel all around the world. The map does an admirable job of displaying the quickest, best, and safest routes.
Although you may need to tinker around a bit or customize routes to get the most suitable route for you, Google Maps, do eventually help you find what you’re looking for and for that, the employees of the company must be applauded for their efforts.
Although we may find plenty of faults in the cycling feature of Google Maps, the software is still pretty darn handy and undoubtedly one of the best mapping services for discovering safe bike lanes.