While scanning search results on my blog-site, I noticed that people are looking for bike routes in our area. It’s rather easy to do this with Google Maps, but I figure that not everyone is aware of this. So, here I am writing a short post on how to find bike routes via Google Maps. This will work no matter where you live. The larger the city or metropolitan area your in, the greater chance that someone has mapped out routes on Google.
Head on over to maps.google.com and search the area you are interested in. On the right side click on the expand arrow below the Traffic box. Next select the Bicycling option and any bike lanes or bike friendly routes will be displayed. The legend says the solid dark green lines are trails, a solid light green line indicates dedicated lanes (marked bicycle lanes) and the green dotted lines are bike friendly roads. See figure one.
How do the routes get marked? Volunteers such as I, submit the bike routes for review and someone else confirms them and shortly thereafter they appear on the maps. I believe they call this crowd sourcing. I did much of the routes for the Mission, McAllen and Edinburg areas. There are still many more routes to map out and I can get ideas from Strava and incorporate those routes into Google maps. Other routes are neighborhood favorites that I find impossible to capture it all. I basically did major routes to get you to and from each city in the Mission, McAllen and Edinburg areas. It takes time and patience to add routes, so be patient while I find the time to add more.
That’s pretty much it. Give it a try and drop me a comment.
One of the things I wanted to do with this blog is to share bicycle routes here in the Rio Grande Valley, specifically the Mission-McAllen-Edinburg metroplex area. I started out with individual routes of rides I have taken and those can be found in the Routes tab at the top. Initially, I thought I would just add a whole bunch of rides of me going to various places in the area and just build up a collection. But after some thought and laziness I came up with a better idea, Google maps!
Google Maps Overlays
If you don’t know already, Google maps has what is known as overlays (or layers) that you can choose to display on the map. They range from traffic congestion to terrain to bicycle routes. If you open it up and select Bicycles all the bike routes will be displayed for the area you have open. It also gives a small legend to describe to color scheme used to display the various bike routes. It is divided into three parts, Trails, Dedicated lanes and Bicycle friendly roads.
Now, with the Bicycling layer turned on, you can see all the routes in the area. This should make it easier to plan your route to your destination. Many of these routes I entered myself (and cycled on) with a little help of my friends. In the months to come, I’ll be adding more routes and hopefully get most if not all roads that are safe to ride on. Keep in mind that I don’t plan on adding neighborhood roads, but I will be adding major arteries that help you get from one town to another.
Texas and the Rio Grande Valley
For those that don’t know where the Rio Grande Valley is, we are located at the bottom of Texas. It comprises of four counties, Starr, Hidalgo, Willacy and Camron county. The area I live in is in central Hidalgo county near the county seat of Edinburg, Texas. The terrain is flat with overpasses and wind providing the hills. Temperatures typically exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months and in the 50’s during a cold front in the winter months. Riding is pretty much an all year in this area. Wohoo!!
Help me out, if you see a section of the road that is not marked let me know and I’ll work on getting it added to Google Maps. There is also another source for cycling routes and that is through the Hidalgo County MPO. Contact them for details and consider joining their Bike-Pedistrian Task Force and get involved.
Have fun exploring the bicycle routes in the Rio Grande Valley!
After a couple of days being rained in, I decided to start on a project to put my bike routes onto Google Maps. You see, if I Google my area (Mission, TX) and looked for any bike lanes or routes, there are slim pickings. The only one that shows up is the Hike and Bike Trail on the out skirts of town. This appears as if the trail is the only place where you can safely ride your bike, but that is not true. Many streets in town can be safely cycled, even if there is no official bike lane marked or shoulders. I have many routes in the Mission area that I ride constantly that I want to add to the maps. Aside from the neighborhood streets, the main arteries in the city are quite good for cycling. Thus begins my project in adding bike routes to Google Maps.
My first street is a section of Griffin Parkway that has dedicated Bike lanes but does not show up in Google Maps. After figuring out how to mark the road and indicate that it has bike lanes, the hard part of submitting it for review had to be done. it took sometime and false leads to figure out the workflow process. They sure don’t make it easy to find the proper flow of the process. Apparently, you not only need to submit the changes but you need to join a forum for North America and request that someone take a look at your change requests and approve them. Some requests take more than one approval and that could delay things as each one can reject your request.
Once I got that figured out, I went ahead and added bike routes that I use around town. They are mostly the major arteries, but that’s OK. They will get you from one part of town to another. That took about one afternoon to map them all out and designate them as suitable for cycling and get them posted in the correct forum for approval. At this point I figured it could take weeks or months before I hear something, but I was surprised to get a response in about two days! After a few emails back and forth my efforts were published except for one, the road with actual bike lanes. I figured that one would need additional approvals.
A quick review of the map shows my additions as green dotted lines indicating a bike route but with no Bike Lane markings. Solid green line are roads with designated Bike Lanes. Cool! I now need to add routes that connect the Mission-McAllen-Edinburg metroplex area. More work to be done.
Since I’ve lasted updated this draft, the official bike lane on FM 495 (Griffin Parkway) has been approved and published. I’ve also continue to add more routes and I’m waiting on the Shary Road bike lanes to be added. My Ultimate goal is to show a path from Mission to McAllen and Mission to Edinburg that commuters can use to cycle from town to town. It is surprisingly easy to map out, but it can be a little tedious at parts. Just depends on the road you are mapping.
Here is a link for the Mission area bike routes. Check the link often as I continue to add more routes.