Commuting 101: How to find the perfect route using Google Maps

My wife and I are starting the inane search for a new house. As a bike commuter, one of the first things I do when we find a interesting house is look and see what my daily route could look like. One of the recent ones was a perfect example of how you can use the tools on Google Maps to find the perfect route.

Let’s get started…

Click here to go to maps.google.com.

In the top box type the address for your office and click the “Search Maps” button.

The map should zoom in on the address you provided and show a bubble that has several options on it. Click the “To here” link next to Get Directions.

Type the address for your home and click the “Go” button.

You should now see a map similar to this one:

Commute by Bike: Find a route on google maps for a bike commuter

This first route is 8.9 miles.

Here I will note that Google Maps has an option that you can choose to avoid highways. You should see the checkbox on the left hand side. This may help in your case, but even with that checked it puts my route taking a major highway through the city. A route that is dangerous and illegal for me to ride.

The portion marked in green is the part of the route that is on a highway. I need to fix this.

Commute by Bike: Find a route on google maps for a bike commuter

Google Maps allows you to add points to your map and it will auto adjust the route accordingly. To do this, left-click on any portion of the blue line that marks the route, hold it down and now drag it. As you move your mouse over different points on the map, the route will start changing to match.

There were two portions of my route that hit major highways, so I wanted to take care of the first one. I clicked and dragged the point to the right where I knew there was a safer road to ride on. This route is 9 miles and looks like this:

Commute by Bike: Find a route on google maps for a bike commuter

There’s still the second major portion of the highway still on the route (again, marked in green) so let’s get rid of that the same way. Click on the section of the route I want to change and drag it to safer roads. This route is 10 miles and looks like this:

Commute by Bike: Find a route on google maps for a bike commuter

As you can see by the arrow, there is a major portion of the road that goes out of the way. Plus, since I know this area, I know that the route that takes is still a pretty sketchy stretch of road with no safe place to ride. So I decide to drag the route a little more to see if there’s a better route. I found this one that cuts the route back down to 9 miles and is on a much safer road:

Commute by Bike: Find a route on google maps for a bike commuter

This is a pretty good route I found and would probably be the one I take on a regular basis. But what about those days I want to take my time, cut through some neighborhoods and just enjoy the ride?

You can go through the same steps of clicking and dragging the route to different points on the map to see how Google adjusts the route for you. I found this one that is 11.6 miles and takes me through a lot of quiet roads with just a quarter mile on a major road of any kind:

Commute by Bike: Find a route on google maps for a bike commuter

Google Maps is a great tool for finding and easily planning different routes to your office. Give it a try and let me know what you find!

Post navigation