Google unveiled a new “bicycling” layer and bike directions, today, for their Google Maps product. The new layer shows bike lanes and trails in over 150 cities across the US.
Google’s foray into the bicycling world, however, gives a big public face to the inaccuracies in the official Bike St. Louis map. The Bike St. Louis website shows a lack of updates to since May 2008. Even the Google Maps version of the Bike St. Louis map, which should be simple to update, is out of date. Meanwhile, a number of changes have been made to the bike system since then. Some of the updates the Bike St. Louis map needs include:
- Euclid Ave in the Central West End has a shared bike lane, not a dedicated bike lane.
- Wydown Blvd was upgraded to dedicated bike lanes last year.
- The trail through the Triple A Golf Course in Forest Park was removed last year.
- A new trail underneath I-64 near the Science Center was completed last year.
- Grand Blvd near Tower Grove Park has dedicated bike lanes, not shared bike lanes.
Regional bike map needed
What is really needed is a region wide bike map showing the bike lanes and trails from Franklin County to Madison County and everything in between. As it stands now, the Bike St. Louis map only shows trails in the City of St. Louis and its immediate vicinity, Madison County Transit maintains an updated website for the county’s system of trails, various park websites have maps of their own trails, and every other county lacks accessible information about existing bike infrastructure. St. Louis County, for example, has dedicated bike lanes on Olive Blvd an Telegraph Rd outside of I-270, but you wouldn’t know it unless you drove those roads.
Perhaps the best option, then, would be to completely replace the various area bike and trail maps with the new bike layer in Google Maps. A replacement option would bring a disparate group of maps and data into a cohesive whole. Such a move would not be unprecedented. Metro, for example, is phasing out Trip Finder for transit directions in favor of Google Maps. Responsible agencies would just have to make sure the information Google has is correct and update them of any changes.
Of course, Google being Google, their new bike layer may have replaced the Bike St. Louis map already.