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How to Show Bike Lanes on Google Maps (+ Activate Cycling Mode)

Google Maps Bike Paths

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Here’s the latest updated information on how to find and use Google Maps bike paths and lanes:

Whenever I need to travel somewhere, I use Google Maps.

When I’m driving, Google Maps is pretty flawless. It’s easy to use, provides me with traffic updates, and rarely sends me off a cliff.

When I’m commuting by bike, however, it’s not always so trustworthy. While it does generally show me flattish routes with bike paths where possible, it has also sent me on the odd sketchy busy road and even through forests where the trails are made of soft sand – which, if you’ve not tried it, is pretty hard work, although scenic.

Despite putting up with this for years, I finally decided to sit down and see if there is a way to find better bike routes when using Google Maps.

And, the good news is… there is!

Does Google Maps Show Bike Lanes?

Yes, it is possible to see bike lanes, paths and trails on Google Maps. This can be activated by navigating to ‘Layers’ and selecting ‘Cycling’. You can see how to do this in the video and step-by-step instructions below for desktop and mobile.

How to Show Bike Lanes on Google Maps

A VIDEO DEMONSTRATION OF HOW TO USE gOOGLE’S CYCLING LANE FUNCTION.

How to See Bike Lanes on Google Maps on Desktop:

  • Open Google Maps.
  • At the bottom left of your screen, click “Layers”. (The layers icon looks like a stack of papers. See illustration below.)
  • You’ll see the following options: “Terrain”, “Traffic”, “Transit”, “Biking”, and “More”.
  • Select “Biking”.
  • Google Maps will now display the bicycle routes in the area.

Just FYI: For some layers, when there isn’t enough info, it’s listed as unavailable and you can’t select it.

How to use Google Maps Biking Lanes on Desktop

How to Show Bike Paths on Google Maps on Mobile:

  • Open the Google Maps app.
  • At the top right of your screen select, Layers.
  • You’ll see two categories “Map type” and “Map details”.
  • Under “Map details” select “Cycling”.
  • Google Maps will now display the cycling routes in the area.
  • If you want to turn off the view, simply tap it again.

Just FYI: If there isn’t enough information available on routes in your area the function might not be available.

How to use Google Maps Biking Lanes on Mobile

How to See Bike Paths on Google Maps

Google Maps displays four different types of bike paths:

  • Dark green: Trails that don’t have auto traffic.
  • Green: Dedicated lanes are roads that are shared with cars and have a separate bike lane.
  • Dotted green line: Bicycle-friendly roads are roads that don’t have a bike lane but are recommended for cyclists.
  • Brown: Unpaved trails are off-road dirt paths.

This is the easiest method to find bike routes near you on a map.

Below, I’ve also answered some of the most frequently asked questions about cycling with Google Maps.

Google Maps Biking Lane Colors Explained

How to Activate Bike Mode in Google Maps

What Speed Does Google Maps Assume for Cycling?

Google uses a standard cycling speed of 16kmph (10mph) regardless of the distance. This is important to note, as actual journey times can end up being significantly faster or slower, depending on your own speed.

You can read more about how Google Maps calculates cycling speed here.

How to Find Bicycle Routes Near Me

Other than Google Maps, there are a few helpful tools you can use to find the best route to take by bicycle.

Bikemap – Cycle Route Planner:

One of my favorites is Bikemap, an online tool, and app that examines big data in order to find the most popular routes used by cyclists. Bikemap comes in a free and premium version. One of my favorite features of Bikemap is the “Heatmap” option, which can be selected in the top corner of the screen and shows the most popular cycling routes in your area.

Bikemap describes its “Heatmap” option as follows: “The Bikemap Heatmap is an illustration of more than 300.000.000 kilometers route data which was planned, collected, saved and uploaded by more than 1 Million Bikemap users over the years. The entire knowledge of our community about cycling routes and the best paths is treasured in this very helpful tool. Also in remote regions you will be able to find routes, which are enjoyable and popular with cyclists.”

Bikemap heatmap illustration

Strava – Route Builder:

Strava’s “Route Builder” is another handy tool for planning routes by bike. Unfortunately, Strava recently moved this from a free feature to a subscription service.

Strava describes it’s “Route Builder” function as follows: “With a Strava subscription, you can create new routes from scratch by clicking the Create New Route button near the top of the My Routes page or clicking the plus in the upper right of the header and selecting Create a route from the drop-down menu. When you enter the route builder, use the panel on the left-hand side to set your preferences.”

Strava Routes explained

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