Trying to find directions on your bicycle can be difficult. Even with GPS, we often miss our turns while we pay attention to the road, avoid cars dipping into the bike lane, pedestrians stepping off a curb prematurely, and doors that swing open toward us. If you are in a navigation app, this can be a nightmare as your GPS pauses to reroute, leaving you biking without knowing if you’re even actually in the right direction.
I, like many, have struggled to find workarounds no more elegant than gripping my phone in my hand on top of my bars. The best I could ever manage was to look up the route without starting it, rechecking the map periodically at stop lights to be sure I was at least headed in the right direction.
After noticing an incredible increase in cyclists using Google Maps though, Google set out to find a fix for this common problem. In the coming months, they will roll out Lite Navigation for cyclists.
Lite navigation gives you an overhead view of your entire route rather than turn-by-turn directions. With only a glance at a red light, you can be sure you are heading in the right direction and look at important turns coming up ahead. This allows you to keep track of your entire route, rather than needing to constantly consult or display your phone for one turn at a time. What’s more, you can share your route with a friend so they can know when to expect you, and that you are safe.
Lite Navigation will also display your updated ETA and the upcoming elevation, both uphill and downhill, that you will encounter on the way to your destination. Lite Navigation is one of three updates that Google Maps is releasing to better serve micro-mobility and environmentally friendly navigation.
Google Maps will also soon allow drivers to choose not only the fastest or shortest route, but the route that is most fuel-efficient. Interested drivers can even set this route preference as the default. And for users who don’t have their own bike or car, or just aren’t using them at the moment, in more than 300 cities around the world, Google Maps can show you nearby bike and scooter shares. And it’s not just their location. The app will show how many shares are available, and how many free spots a dock has when your ride is over. These updates should make not only navigating, but getting and returning your shares easier.
No matter your mode of travel, these updates allow users to travel more easily, safely, and efficiently. That’s an update we can get excited about.