Google Maps’ Bike Lane Feature: A Comprehensive Guide for Safe and Convenient Cycling Experience

by Ruaan Nelson 

November 2, 2023

Cycling has witnessed a significant surge in popularity, not only among fitness enthusiasts but also among regular commuters. As the demand for safer and more convenient cycling options continues to rise, Google Maps has stepped in to make navigation easier for cyclists, helping them effortlessly maneuver through bustling cities and discover new areas. One of the most invaluable tools provided by Google Maps is its bike lane feature. In this post, we will delve into the finer details of this feature and explore how it can be effectively utilized to plan your next cycling adventure.


The availability of dedicated bike lanes, well-maintained paths, and scenic trails is paramount for any cyclist who values safety and convenience. While sharing the road with motor vehicles can pose various risks, ranging from distracted drivers to uneven pavements, planning your route using bike lanes can help mitigate these hazards and ensure a smooth and enjoyable ride. Google Maps' bike lane feature is purposefully designed to aid cyclists in finding the optimal bike path for their intended journey, truly enhancing the overall cycling experience.

Types of Bike Paths on Google Maps: A Comprehensive Overview

Google Maps' bike lane feature offers cyclists four distinct types of paths, each denoted by a specific color: dark green, green, dotted green line, and brown. The dark green path represents a dedicated bike path, exclusively catering to cyclists. On the other hand, the green path indicates separate bike lanes integrated into the road infrastructure. The dotted green line signifies roads that are bike-friendly, designed to facilitate safe cycling alongside vehicular traffic. Lastly, the brown path designates parks and recreational areas that boast well-marked bike trails. By having access to this diverse range of paths, you can effortlessly assess and determine the most suitable route for your cycling needs. However, it's important to note that certain bike paths may deviate from the most direct route to your destination.


Complementary Tools for Optimal Route Planning

While Google Maps serves as an exceptional tool for finding the ideal bike route, there are other popular applications that can further enhance your cycling experience. Two noteworthy examples are Bikemap and Strava, both offering unique features to assist cyclists in their journey. Bikemap provides a "Heatmap" feature that displays the most frequently used bike routes by fellow cyclists, offering valuable insights into preferred paths. Meanwhile, Strava offers a "Route Builder" feature that empowers cyclists to customize their route, avoiding congested or unsafe areas. Both Bikemap and Strava offer free and premium versions, with premium subscriptions providing additional features such as offline maps and customized voice directions.

Check our video on YouTube made by Ruaan Nelson

The Significance of Adjusting Google Maps' Standard Cycling Speed Assumption

When determining journey times and recommending routes, Google Maps assumes a standard cycling speed. However, it's important to acknowledge that every cyclist possesses unique abilities and preferences, leading to variations in cycling speed. Some individuals may cycle faster than the standard speed utilized by Google Maps, while others may opt for a more leisurely pace. To ensure more accurate journey times and route suggestions, it is crucial to customize your cycling speed assumption within the "Vehicle Settings" option offered by Google Maps' menu.


A Final Note: Crafting a Tailored Cycling Journey

In conclusion, access to bike lanes, combined with the utilization of available tools, is pivotal for any cyclist seeking a safe and enjoyable cycling experience. Google Maps' bike lane feature, along with the assistance of Bikemap and Strava, stands out as a formidable combination when planning your next cycling adventure. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of the various types of bike paths displayed on Google Maps, leveraging additional tools to personalize your route, and fine-tuning the standard cycling speed assumption, you can curate a journey that caters precisely to your needs and preferences. So, grab your two wheels and embark on a thrilling exploration!


Ruaan is an electrical engineer born in South Africa and currently working in Oslo, Norway. He loves tech and gadgets and owns an electric car (Tesla) as well a front-wheel-drive electric bike. He rides his bike all year, even through snow and ice covered roads in the cold winter.

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