Canterbury cyclists have welcomed the addition of a cycling-specific route planner to Google Maps.
Google yesterday launched two map features in New Zealand - Cycling Directions and Google Map Maker.
Cyclists' routes would automatically make the best use of bike lanes, avoid hills and stay off roads as much as possible, Google said. The map maker allowed the public to add information on road conditions (good or bad), surface type (a choice of eight) and construction status (closed or disturbed by maintenance).
All user-added content would be verified by Google and added within 24 hours, but "approved users" would have their content updated within 15 minutes.
There were also benefits for motorists. "It will know automatically which roads are bad and to avoid those," Google Map park manager Nabil Naghdy said.
Clare Simpson, Canterbury cyclists' association Spokes chairwoman, gave the launch the "thumbs-up".
"I can see this being totally useful, especially for commuters," she said.
"One of the biggest problems we've had - drivers find this as well - is you go to go to work and you're on your way and all of a sudden your route isn't there any more."
Simpson saw the potential to link the new map-maker features to YouTube and council alerts, particularly over road hazards.
"The landscape is moving so quickly. If you were in a stable environment, it wouldn't matter so much.
"Here, it might change one day and the next day it might be different," she said.
Naghdy said people could add or edit information on landmarks such as cafes or sports facilities. This was particularly relevant in Christchurch, where many businesses had moved or buildings no longer existed.
Naghdy said councils had been encouraged to use the map maker while road maintenance programmes were carried out as road information traditionally took a month to be added to Google Maps, by which time it could be outdated.
ACC figures show the number of cyclists injured in the city because of earthquake-damaged roads has increased, with 25 injured because of the surface they were riding on in the first half of this year. There were 23 injured in the whole of 2010.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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