Examining Google’s Walking Directions

I’ve gotten a lot of email about Google’s new walking directions Beta launch this week and now that the Metro craziness is over, I decided to give it a try and see how it worked.

I took a street corner near my home and asked for directions from their to the Third Street Farmer’s Market.  To it’s credit, Google recommended the same route that I often take and one that a car couldn’t.  I tried out two other routes that I know and had similar results.  Going from the Bike Kitchen to the Red Line stop at Santa Monica and Vermont?  Google takes pedestrians up Heliotrope while auto drivers are taken up Edgemont.  Going from City Hall to Civic Center?  Walk west up Tom Bradley Dr., not West Temple Street.

While I give Google Walking a thumbs up, it comes with the usual caveat that it’s not a replacement for local knowledge.  If you’re using it for a new place, make sure to have a backup plan in case local conditions aren’t reflected by the map.  After all, this is just a Beta launch.

The only negative is that Google is a tease.  Next to the link for walking directions is a link for transit directions.  Clicking on it brings this message.


Your search for transit directions from Heliotrope and Melrose, Los Angeles, CA to Santa Monica and Vermont, LA CA  appears to be outside our current coverage area. Please consult our list of  participating public transit agencies.

Anyone want to take bets on whether or not Google Metro comes out before Google Bikes?

  • User1

    I’ll take Google Metro over Google Bikes any day. Yeah I would prefer both, but given a choice. Anyways couldn’t you pretty much rely on Google Walking for bike routes? Sure it’s not a prefect solution, but not a bad temp fix.

    I’ve been waiting for metro directions for a long time. Sad it’s taken this long to appear. Now THAT would be very beneficial for quite a few people.

    For the record I use my bicycle, metro, and a car to get around.

  • I used Google Walking to plan a bike route from my house in Lincoln Heights to the Boyle Hieghts Sears – brilliant!

    I took State, got onto St. Louis – bam! Uber chill, and way better than the crappy route I had picked out.

  • Google Maps is great but it is nearly impossible to change the cartographic data that underlies the maps. Enter OpenStreetMap. We have far more walking trails and other bike/walk facilties mapped than does Google. An example (from my hometown of Victoria, BC) http://geo.topf.org/comparison/index.html?mt0=googlemap&mt1=mapnik&lon=-123.3288288&lat=48.487202&z=15

    Anybody can map with OSM and all the data is released under CC by sa 3.0. Check it out: http://openstreetmap.org/

  • Google bikes will come out first, at least in LA.

    Websites get money in regards to demographic, the demographic that rides bikes has more money than the demographic that does public transit only, so my guess if I know capitalism, Google bikes, though this is silly since most people have to combine their cycling route with public transit, though again though the people who travel the farthest have the least amount of money, so again probably Google bikes.


  • Google Walking just came out. It is “live”.

    There is no Google Bikes.

  • I thought at the end of Newton’s post he asked a question.

    “Anyone want to take bets on whether or not Google Metro comes out before Google Bikes?” Newton

    My above statement was answering that questions.

  • My money’s on Google Transit, since it already exists in certain areas of the world that have plugged into Google’s map API. The MTA is working on making it’s services Google-able:



Cycling Coming to Google Maps in Los Angeles…Today?

My current Google Map of the Bike Route from my current home to my new home. The bike blogs and even some traditional news outlets are buzzing with the news that Google Maps will be launching a "bike directions" application later today at the National Bike Summit in Washington in 150 cities, including Los Angeles.  […]

Ride the City Opens Bike Mapping Page for Los Angeles

In 2008, around the same time that Streetsblog launched in Los Angeles, Ride the City launched in New York.  Today, Streetsblog is happy to announce that the volunteer mapping effort is launching in Los Angeles.  At worst, the program provides another alternative to the popular “bikes” feature on Google Maps.  But because Ride the City […]

In New Orleans, You Should Follow the River

A city determined by the Mississippi. (Google photo composite: Leto A. via Flickr) Today on the Streetsblog Network, there’s a lovely post about the geographic idiosyncrasy of New Orleans, from NolaCycle Bike Map Project. This is the blog of a group whose mission is "to create a high quality cycling map of New Orleans" by […]