New updates to cycling navigation in Google Maps are set to benefit millions of Londoners as the app now takes account of traffic conditions and the availability of high-quality cycling infrastructure.
Informed by Transport for London (TfL) insights – Google has updated its algorithms to prioritise cycling on safer, quieter roads or routes with dedicated cycling infrastructure.
In total, these changes on Google Maps can improve more than 60 million cycling journeys across London and the rest of the world every month.
James Cleeton, London Director of Sustrans, a charity that works to get more people walking, wheeling and cycling, said the updates were “vital to encouraging more people to travel actively.
“TfL teaming up with Google Maps provides people who get around on cycles with a great tool that will help them make an informed choice about which route is safest for them to take.”
During a TfL innovation summit in 2022, it was uncovered that one of the key barriers to cycling is the need for travel planning tools that include up-to-date data.
TfL and the boroughs have delivered more than 340 kilometres of cycle routes in London but existing digital journey planners do not always take these into account and so do not always provide the best route for cycling.
The Maps algorithms will now prioritise cycling on safer roads and make them easier to discover.
The feature gives detailed information on the type of road, junction, cycling infrastructure, and even an immersive view for cycle routes which will roll out later this year.
Users can send feedback directly through the app if they spot routes with better alternatives. These changes have already begun and it is anticipated that most London users will have access by the end of the year.
Hannah Fallows, Open Innovation Partnerships Manager at TfL, said: “Our collaboration with Google is a fantastic way of using our shared expertise to make active journeys easier for everyone. The improvements to digital wayfinding through navigation apps like Google Maps give cyclists confidence about the journey they are about to undertake, especially if it’s not a regular route.”
The capital continues to enhance its cycling network. Nearly 50 kilometres of new or upgraded cycle routes have been delivered since April 2022, with plans to open another 12.3 kilometres by March 2024.