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Google Maps Cycle Routes & How to Show Them

Google Maps Cycle Routes & How to Show Bike Lanes

Millions across the world use the Google Maps application each day to plan routes and journeys, using multiple methods of transport.

Google began adding cycling functionality to Maps in late 2010, and since then, Google Maps cycle routes have received multiple updates, from route elevation data to improved GPS tracking. 

Google Maps’ bike lane feature is a relatively recent addition, allowing users to “find cycle paths near me”. 

Whilst many cyclists use Google Maps for their day to day navigation, few of them understand how to show bike lanes on Google Maps. 

By learning how to utilise the Google Maps bike lane feature, you’ll be able to find the safest routes to take when cycling downtown and new trails to discover when you fancy some off-roading!

Sounds great, right? Now, no time to waste. Let’s learn how to show bike lanes on google maps!

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    Is Google Maps Good for Cyclists?

    As with every market, there’s fierce competition between several companies when it comes to tracking and providing routes for cyclists. 

    Google and Apple Maps have been competing to be the number one provider of trip information and directions for a long time now. Both companies offer reliable travel routes for journeys using multiple forms of transport.

    Several alternatives, such as Strava and BikeMap, which entered the market after the conception of Google Maps, take an exercise orientated approach and provide navigation and statistical tracking for cycling and running.

    Google Maps cycle route vs Apple Maps
    Google and Apple Maps both have their benefits, find out about the best alternatives for Google Maps below.

    Google Maps cycle routes and Apple Maps cycle routes both have their benefits.

    Below we’ll be learning about the cycle paths on Google Maps. Then towards the bottom of the article, I provide a detailed comparison of the best apps for cycling, take a look here if you’re interested. 

    Otherwise, I’ve personally found Google Map’s cycle routes to be very reliable. 

    Below I’ll show you exactly how to show bike lanes on Google Maps and then later in the guide I reveal a whole load of tips that you’ll find beneficial when using google maps as your cycling route planner/navigator.

    How to Show Bike Lanes on Google Maps

    As our roads become busier and more hazardous, many cyclists are left wondering how to view cycle paths near them.

    Considering the title of this short guide, I imagine you came here to learn about the bike lane feature on Google Maps and how you can use it to make your route planning and time on two wheels even more effortless. So here it is. 

    Several other websites provide similar information to this guide, but they contain information for outdated versions of Google Maps, so they’re no longer helpful and will end with confusion. As of 2022, this is the most up to date guide available.

    How to View Google Maps Cycle Routes - Mobile

    Revealing bike lanes on Google Maps on the mobile app is easy. Follow the simple steps below, and you’ll be able to discover the best bike rides and most peaceful routes to your destination!

    The images below provide additional help and guide you through the steps required to show cycle routes on Google Maps.

    • Launch the Google Maps application on your mobile device.
    • Click the layers icon towards the top right of the screen.
    How to show bike lanes and cycle paths on google maps - mobile
    (Click to enlarge)
    • Select the “Cycling” option under the “Map details” section. 
    • Press the X button to navigate back to the map and view your local bike lanes and trails.
    Google Maps Cycle Route Key
    • If you’re wondering what the different lines mean, the key above explains exactly what each line means. 
    • Keep reading below and discover the additional hidden features Google Maps offers, that will be invaluable when planning your next cycling route. 

    How to See Bike Paths on Google Maps - Desktop

    If you’re planning a cycle route, using the desktop version of Google Maps is more user friendly than the mobile app.

    The desktop version of Google Maps provides a visible key that provides information on the different cycle paths available in your vicinity. 

    Just like using the Google Maps application, revealing bike lanes on the desktop browser is very easy. Follow the short guide below, and you’ll be planning routes in no time!

    • Launch the Google Maps application on your computer and navigate to your desired area.
    • Hover your mouse over the “Layers” icon in the bottom left of the screen until the slider appears.
    How to show cycle paths near me on Google Maps - Desktop
    (Click to enlarge)
    Google Maps Cycle Route Key
    • Select the “Cycling” layer to reveal the bike paths and cycle lanes in your vicinity.
    • Use the key at the bottom of the screen to differentiate between the different paths, trails and bike-friendly roads available to you. 
    • But that’s not all. Below you’ll find several ways to improve your route planning and, ultimately, increase your enjoyment when travelling on two wheels!

    Cycling Tips & Tricks for Google Maps

    Use Satellite Map Type to Better Understand Your Cycle Route

    If you followed the steps above to reveal how to show bike lanes on google maps, then you’ll most likely have noticed a few other options you have when it comes to navigation. 

    The satellite map type is available in the layers section. It replaces the computer-generated maps with satellite imagery, allowing you to assess the terrain and areas you’ll be travelling in. 

    How to use satellite mode on google maps
    How satellite mode appears on Google Maps mobile (Click to enlarge)

    To turn off satellite view in google maps, navigate back to the layers section and select either “Terrain” or “Default”.

    How to Download Google Maps for Offline Cycle Routes

    If you know you’ll be travelling through areas where the signal will be limited or don’t have mobile data available on your plan, using Google Maps offline is a great option!

    Bear in mind that cycling directions aren’t available in offline mode, but if you’re happy to use the routes chosen for automobiles, you can select “avoid motorways” to use more bike-friendly routes.

    Downloading Google Maps map sections is easy and take up minimal space on your device, making it the ideal workaround.

    If you’re interested, follow the steps below, which explain how to download Google Maps for offline use:

    • Boot or download the Google Maps application on your mobile phone.
    • Next, click on your profile image in the top right corner. 
    • Select the “Offline maps” option from the list.
    How to download google maps for offline use
    • In the Offline maps section, choose “Select Your Own Map” and navigate to the area of the map that you wish to download. 
    • Pay attention to the download size at the bottom of the screen. A more significant section of the map will occupy more phone storage.

    Use Street View to Follow Your Cycle Route Before Setting Off

    Google Street View is a valuable tool for planning longer cycling trips as it allows you to carry out surveillance before setting off on your ride. 

    If you’re plotting your route and aren’t 100% certain if it’s bike-friendly or suitable for your type of bike, use the Google Street View setting to travel along your planned sections route and find alternative routes for areas that you deem unsafe or unsuitable. 

    Roads that can be navigated using Street View will be highlighted in a blue/green colour. 

    I’d recommend using this method to assess busier sections of road where bike link information isn’t available. For more confident cyclists, this step is probably less of a worry.

    How to use Google Street View on Mobile and Desktop
    (Click to enlarge)

    To open Google Street View on mobile, launch the Google Maps application on your phone and navigate to the layers tab in the top right of the screen. 

    Once you’ve opened the layers tab, select “Street View” under the “Map details” section. 

    Clicking Street View will highlight Street View-compatible road areas in a blue/green colour. 

    From here, click the section of road/trail you’d like to view and tap the screen to navigate in the direction you wish to travel in. 

    (See the image below for guidance)

    To use Google Street View on computer, launch Google Maps in your internet browser and navigate to the area of the map you wish to explore.

    Once ready to browse the area in Street View mode, click the little orange character in the bottom right of the screen and drag it onto the road/trail you wish to view. 

    Unfortunately, if the road doesn’t show up in blue/green, it’s not available in Street View mode. 

    Once you’ve entered Street View mode, use your mouse or trackpad to move around by clicking the direction you wish to move in. 

    Pay Close Attention to Route Elevation Data

    Route elevation is another helpful feature that google provides for those looking to plan journeys by bike. 

    It’s easy to forget about hills when looking at a 2D map. Still, this helpful feature displays the elevation throughout your route in a graph that’s easy to read and can be hovered over to show the location along your plotted route (computer browser only).

    If you don’t cycle regularly, it’s worth checking the route elevation to make sure you’re not going to come across any hills along the way that you won’t be able to tackle. 

    If you find a hill along the way that you want to avoid, plot a route around it. 

    Otherwise, if you’re feeling fit and fancy more of a challenge, find a route with plenty of hills and go and tackle ’em! 

    How to view cycle route elevation on Google Maps
    (Click to enlarge)

    How to Make a Bike Route on Google Maps

    Planing and adding stops along your route is a good idea for long bike journeys. 

    If you’ve got to visit several different locations on the same journey and want to take the most efficient route in between, then adding stops is your best bet. 

    Follow the simple steps below to learn how to add stops to your journey with Google Maps:

    How to Add Stops To Your Bike Route on Google Maps - Mobile

    • Launch the Google Maps mobile application and search or click on your starting destination.
    • Click the “Directions” button, and if necessary, click the arrows button on the top right to make sure your starting destination is at the top of the two boxes. 
    • Usually, the box below will now read “Your location”. Click on this box and add your first stopping point to your journey. 
    How to add multiple destinations to your cycle route on Google Maps
    (Click to enlarge)
    • Now, before adding your extra stops, you’ll want to choose your method of transport. Your options can be found below the destination boxes.
    • Once your first destination has been added, and you’ve set your preferred method of transport, click the three dots in the top right of the screen and select “Add stop” from the menu.
    • Add all of your planned destinations to your route using the additional destination boxes. 
    • Pay attention to the section that displays your total trip time and click and drag your destinations to adjust the order of your planned stops to choose the most efficient route. 
    Cycle Paths Map
    (Click to enlarge)

    How to Add Stops To Your Bike Route on Google Maps - Computer

    • Launch the Google Maps application in your internet browser. 
    • Click the search bar in the top right of the screen and enter your starting destination for your journey. 
    • Click the blue “Directions” button and click the arrows on the right of the search boxes to ensure your starting point sits in the top box. 
    • From here, plot your first stop-off destination in the box below and select your chosen method of transport from the icons above the boxes.
    How to make a bike route with google maps
    (Click to enlarge)
    • Below your two plotted points in the search boxes, click the “Add destination” button. 
    • This will open a new search box, allowing you to plot as many stops as you like along your route. 
    • Keep an eye on the route time and elevation data below the search boxes.
    • To change the order of your stops, hover your mouse on the left of the search boxes and click and drag to rearrange the destinations. 
    How to use Google Maps for planning a cycle route
    After adding your destinations to your route, use the dots on the left to change the order and pay attention to the elevation profile and estimated duration! (Click to enlarge)

    How to Use Voice Map Guidance for Google Maps Cycling

    Google Maps voice guidance is a great feature to use when cycling as it allows you to keep your eyes on the road whilst navigating unknown areas. 

    To enable Google Maps voice guidance, follow the steps below. Please note, the voice guidance feature is only available on mobile. 

    • Open the Google Maps application on your mobile phone.
    • Next, click your Google profile in the top right of the screen.
    How to turn on voice guidance on google maps
    (Click to enlarge)
    • Click the “Settings” tab with the gear icon from the drop-down menu. 
    • In the settings area, select the top option, “Navigation”.
    • To turn on voice guidance, make sure either “Alerts only” or “Unmuted” are selected in the top row of options under “Mute state”.
    • Now, choose how loud the guidance is by selecting one of the three volume levels from the “Guidance volume” options. 

    Google Maps Cycle Route Key

    Unfortunately, Google Maps doesn’t provide a key for users who access its cycle route feature on mobile devices.

    The first time I viewed the cycle route map detail, it pickled my brain, so join the club if this is how you’re feeling!

    Regardless of your reason of need, below is the Google Maps cycle route key/legend for all that need it. 

    Google Maps Cycle Route Key
    (Click to enlarge)

    Google Maps Cycling FAQs

    If you’re wondering how to view cycle paths near you, Google Maps is one of the best tools you can use for free.

    Launch the mobile app, click the layers icon in the top right-hand corner and select the “Cycling” option under “Map details”.

    This reveals all of your local area’s bike paths, lanes, and trails.

    The cycling lines represent different things:

    • Dark green = Bike trails
    • Light green = Dedicated bike lanes
    • Light green dots = Bike-friendly roads
    • Brown = Dirt/unpaved roads


    I’d recommend using Google Maps on your computer if you’re planning a complex bike route.

    If your google maps doesn’t show the bike option, the best steps to take are:

    • Clear history and cached files (computer)
    • Restart the Google Maps application
    • Ensure your version of Google Maps is up to date (Mobile)
    • Delete and re-install the Google Maps application

    Google Maps uses an average riding speed of 16km/h or 10mph for cyclists planning routes.

    Bear in mind, while 16 km/h (10mph) is the average riding speed, Google Maps will take hills, junctions and other obstacles into account when deciding your estimated cycle route time.

    Alternatives to Google Maps for Cycling

    Komoot

    Komoot is easily one of the best alternatives to Google Maps for cycling.

    I’ve used Komoot a handful of times and have really enjoyed how it works. 

    Before estimating your route time, Komoot lets you choose your bike type and select your fitness level, which it then uses to calculate your journey time. 

    Google maps alternatives for cycling - Komoot

    On top of this, Komoot supplies data on the types of roads you’ll have available on your route (e.g. paths, cycleways and roads).

    You’ll also be able to view what surfaces you’ll be riding, which can help you decide if your cycle route is suitable.

    London maps are free to use on Komoot, but if you live elsewhere, the world map pack costs $26 (£20), which is a good deal for the tools and tech you’ll then have at your fingertips.

    Strava

    Strava is an immensely popular social media/fitness app for cyclists and runners.

    The app allows you to track your rides and runs and provides in-depth analytics for you to toggle at after your exercise has finished. 

    Alongside tracking your fitness progression and ride/run stats, Strava allows you to compete with your local rivals.

    Good apps for cycling

    This is an excellent alternative for cycling to google maps for those who love competition and pushing themselves to the max.

    However, Strava doesn’t allow you to set routes on your mobile device, so if you need navigation help, this isn’t the one for you.

    Additionally, Strava push you quite hard to sign up to their yearly subscription plan, which has a 30-day free trial and then costs $59.99 (or £47.99).

    As shown in the image, riders and runners can plot segments on the map and compete within these segments for the fastest times. 

    BikeMap

    BikeMap is another mobile application that allows you to find local cycle lanes and bike paths near you. 

    Alongside this, BikeMap provides GPS navigation for when you’re cycling in areas you’re unsure of. 

    Like Komoot, BikeMap allows you to choose several different types of bike, which the app then uses to select the best route for you. 

    BikeMap provides popular cycle routes in your local area alongside the navigation feature, but unlike Strava, BikeMap isn’t geared towards competitive cycling.

    Instead, this app will help you take more enjoyment from your time on two wheels and help you get from A to B safely.

    To unlock all the premium features for BikeMap it’ll cost you $49.99/year (£38.99) with a one week free trial.

    BRouter

    BRouter is a tool based upon the OpenCycleMap, which is super handy for calculating the statistics and planning long-distance bike journeys. 

    By plotting points on the world map, the technology finds the most suitable route for you to take via bike.

    Either stay local with your routes, or if you’re setting off bike-packing for a few months, this is a great way to calculate your overall travel time, distance and your optimal route.

    Bike touring route planner app

    Like some of the other Google Maps alternatives for cycling, BRouter also allows you to choose your bike type and adjusts the route time depending on which kind of bike you’ll be riding. 

    The software is totally free and is only available online (desktop).

    View BRouter here

    OpenCycleMap

    OpenCycleDatabase

    The OpenCycleMap is a worldwide database for cyclists that maps every bike lane and path, drawing its information from the OpenStreetMap. 

    Many applications such as Komoot and Strava use data from the OpenCycleMap for their programmes. 

    The OpenCycleMap doesn’t provide any fancy features but can be used as a road atlas to plot your route across cities, countries, and, if you’re feeling fit, continents. 

    View the OpenCycleMap here

    Summary - How to Show Bike Lanes on Google Maps

    And there it is, the most informative guide to Google Maps cycle routes available anywhere. 

    You should now understand how to view cycle paths near you and how to map out a bike ride on Google Maps.

    However, if I’ve left any of your questions unanswered, let me know in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to help you out! 

    As always, when you’re out cycling, don’t forget to take a good quality bike lock with you.

    If you worry about your bike whilst it’s locked, check out my review of the best cheap bike locks or the best uncuttable bike locks if you ride a bike that’s more attractive to thieves. 

    Lock it or lose it!

    Ciao for now. 

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    Hello! My name’s James, I’m an avid cyclist and the lead editor of BikeLockWiki.

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