Google has a cool new feature in beta – walking directions. To access them, go to Google maps and enter your starting and destination addresses just like normal. When the resulting directions are displayed, they will be for motor vehicle travel, but just beside the “By Car” indicator, there will be a link to get “Walking” directions.
This will be very useful for cities with many one-way streets. A trip by car may entail a much farther distance to travel, if you have to loop around the block, which a walker can avoid. Also, cars cannot take advantage of footpaths and pedestrian-only urban areas like parks or closed-off streets.
Take my example on the left, although this has its faults as we’ll see. I asked Google how to get from my house (A) to the Moncton Coliseum (B). The first result shows me the quickest way to drive there, which is out of my neighbourhood and onto the divided highway Wheeler Boulevard, then north one exit and you’re there.
When I click Walking, though, I get the second map. Google knows that I can’t walk on the divided highway, so it sends me on the surface roads to the west. So the pedestrian route is actually longer than the driving one, which is why this is a bad example. Over at the Google Maps blog, they have a much better one, using downtown Seattle.
The other reason this is a bad example is that even the omniscient Google doesn’t know about the footpaths through the forest that surrounds our subdivision to the west, north and east (see satellite image below). The shortest way for me in reality is up the long, straight park road just to the right of the “A”, then when it turns sharply right, to follow the path (not shown here) up to Pacific Avenue.
So it’s nice that, for the time being anyway, I still know something that Google doesn’t.