Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Most Mapping Products Are Insufficient for Cyclists

Tom MacWright:

This might be because HERE, the number two provider of map technologies, was bought by a bunch of car companies. Or because Google is headquartered in the suburbs. Or that the financial world is fixated on opening the pandora’s box of self-driving cars.

But the end result is the same: bicycle and multimodal routing continues to be a toy, and driving directions keep getting better. We have nearly real-time reports of car crashes so that drivers can shave a few minutes off their commute. Blocked bike lanes are invisible to the system. Even lanes that are redirected into street traffic because of construction that lasts for months – they’re all the same. Google Maps lets you avoid tolls and highways in your car. It sees no difference between a sharrow, a protected bicycle lane, or a so-called bicycle-friendly road.

It could be worse — Apple doesn’t display cycling routes in their Maps app, and there are no options for mixed-mode transportation.

It’s telling of the differences in real-world priorities that cycling is among the most popular modes of transportation in much of the world, yet tech companies treat it as a niche issue for a handful of customers.