Google Maps and incorrect bike infrastructure data

If you look at the bicycling layer on Google Maps regularly, you’ve likely noticed that it’s often completely wrong. It used to be pretty good. I’m not sure what changed but I suspect some kind of “artificial intelligence” is involved in marking this stuff now, based on how nonsensical it can be. NE Brazee St is marked as a multi use path from MLK to Grant Park. SE Steele St is shown to have a bike lane going as far east as 62nd Ave even though it only goes as far as 33rd Pl. The bike lane on SE Milwaukie Ave south of Holgate ends at Mitchell St but somehow extends north to Mall St in Google’s world. Then there’s whatever is happening downtown with random blocks shown having bike lanes.

Submitting corrections is far too much effort to do for free, especially when all you can do is tell whoever is on the other end of the error report form what’s wrong rather than redrawing it yourself. I submitted one for SE 97th around Happy Valley weeks ago and it is still not fixed.

I’m aware of OpenCycleMap but it’s a visual clutter disaster. The data is great but the presentation is not good.

So if you’re using Google Maps to navigate on a bike, watch out. That bike lane you were told went along the entire length of the street might not exist.

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Sort of related, but the StreetView images by user/account “IM” that has been doing the later captures don’t seem to be lined up properly and quality/accuracy seems subpar to previous official Google captured images. Anyone else noticed this?

Yes, Google Maps is far more concerned about drivers, still it’s easy and better than nothing in an unfamiliar area. But some of the goofs are amazing. A while ago I noticed that Google Maps showed it illegal for people riding on SE Spokane to cross 13th Ave. Spokane is a greenway and that crossing is specifically marked for bikes & peds! I sent error report after error report with links to photos. It took many months of haranguing to get it corrected, but eventually they got the message.

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Yeah, diverters and things like that can be weird. I remember for a while any bike route on Clinton would be routed around the diverter at 32nd instead of through it.

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Honestly, I don’t think we’ll ever have decent biking directions and other important metadata until many more people are using bicycles in utilitarian ways and as their frequent or primary transportation option. Because, until then, the big map companies just can’t be bothered to go for premium quality. Google and Apple maps both have tradeoffs and advantages when it comes to the directions they give. I recently downloaded Ride with GPS after the front page posted the “try these” article on recommended leisure/exercise rides in Portland from PBOT. The GPS maps that downloaded I did not see a way to send to either Apple or Google Maps so I just went for it and tried the trial. I like it, and they offer a lot of different map overlay styles. I’m not super happy with the timing of its turn prompts. They were either way too early or way too late and I ended out missing several turns and having to double back on the route I was trying out.

That’s a bummer. I know Apple has bike maps for Portland now. Anyone been using them?

I wish I could try but it appears to only be accessible on Apple devices.