Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Building and sharing Google bike (and other) route maps using waypoint defined computed routes

I used to do bicycle maps using Google’s Map Creator / “My Maps” tools, but for me it was a frustrating process. I never quite got the hang of the building, and sharing never seemed to work well.

Now I create bike route maps by entering sequential waypoints, and letting Google handle the routing between them. It takes only a few minutes and I can share the results as a short Google URL. I can send the maps to Google on my iPhone, put them in a blog, create a document of my routes, save them as bookmarks, etc.

Here’s a sample of the process, with a map that starts at locally famous bike spot - Angry Catfish Bicycle and Coffee Bar. (You should figure out your general route before you do this process).

1. Search for your starting point, then use the “three line” Google menu to turn on Bicycling. (you may need to turn it on more than once)

 Screen Shot 2015 07 22 at 9 47 00 PM

2. Click Directions and put it into bicycle mode. Notice the choose destination field. Click in that field to be sure Google is in the right mode, now click on your next waypoint.

Screen Shot 2015 07 22 at 9 51 36 PM

Screen Shot 2015 07 22 at 9 52 39 PM

Notice you’ve go two map destinations and that Google has figured out a route using the bike trail.

3. Keep building your route by adding way points. You do have to click back into the ‘choose destination’ field so Google understands the context. Once you click a point then hold (don’t release) you can drag the waypoint and watch Google add your route. Release when you get to a key turning point or point of interest. For example:

Screen Shot 2015 07 22 at 9 58 23 PM

4. Here’s the complete loop (1h, 6min). It has a wiggle in the top right I don’t like, I’d rather stay on the trail. I could have redone the route by adding a waypoint on the trail, that would prevent the diversion. Or I could just do a custom route by clicking on handles and moving them as below:

Screen Shot 2015 07 22 at 10 02 13 PM

Screen Shot 2015 07 22 at 10 04 21 PM

5. It really only takes a few minutes to get to this point. Now tap Google’s 3 bar (hamburger?) menu and choose share. The URL looks like this:,+4208+S+28th+Ave,+Minneapolis,+MN+55406/Minnehaha+Creek/44.9240882,-93.1976693/44.9417637,-93.198409/44.9504289,-93.2486649/44.9318804,-93.2501599/44.9271569,-93.2322561/@44.9285992,-93.2165955,14z/data=!4m24!4m23!1m5!1m1!1s0x87f62844b2ef9ac1:0x238cfef7316e9d8b!2m2!1d-93.2325294!2d44.92653!1m5!1m1!1s0x0:0x2d1439632b6ee239!2m2!1d-93.2247432!2d44.9175766!1m0!1m5!3m4!1m2!1d-93.1994777!2d44.9467264!3s0x87f629dd3802980d:0xad4046ce8178a45c!1m0!1m0!1m0!3e1

but it also offers a short form:

Sure beats using Map Creator. 

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