How to Show Bike Lanes on Google Maps

If I need to find out how to get somewhere, I use Google Maps.

When I’m driving, Google Maps is pretty flawless. It’s easy to use, provides me 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 only just 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!

How Do I Use Google Maps for Cycling?

Now, the fastest and easiest way to find a cycling route using Google Maps is to enter your destination (and start point if you’re planning ahead) and then click on “Directions” (when using the mobile app), before pressing the bicycle symbol at the top of the page when some routes are presented to you.

On desktop devices, this is pretty must the same, except you directly click on the bicycle symbol rather than need to press directions first.

But how do you show bike lanes on Google Maps? Well, the short video I created below will show you show.

Also, please subscribe to the Discerning Cyclist YouTube channel – there’ll be lots more videos coming soon!

How to Show Bike Lanes on Google Maps

On Desktop:

  1. Go to Google Maps and enter your starting point and destination.
  2. Click on the ☰ menu button in the top left-hand corner
  3. Click on the Bicycling from the menu options
  4. This will then show you all the bicycle routes in the area, separated into four categories:
    • Trails (solid dark green line)
    • Dedicated lanes (solid green lane)
    • Bicycle-friendly roads (dotted green line)
    • Dirt/unpaved trails (solid brown line)

On Mobile:

  1. Go to the Google Maps app search for the area or route you want to look at
  2. Click on the Map Type symbol near the top right corner of the screen
  3. Select “Cycling” under “Map Details”
  4. This will then show you all the bicycle routes in the area, again separated into four categories:
    • Trails (solid dark green line)
    • Dedicated lanes (solid green lane)
    • Bicycle-friendly roads (dotted green line)
    • Dirt/unpaved trails (solid brown line)

This is the easiest method to find bike routes near you on a map. Obviously, if there’s no great cycle routes in your area, Google can’t create them out of the blue. A good future feature would be also to give you more data on how safe the routes are and how much traffic you may need to contend with, but, for now, this is the best way to find streets with bike lanes.

Below, I’ve also also answered some of the most frequently asked questions about cycling with 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, depend on your own speed.

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

How to Find Bicycle Routes Near Me

As well as Google Maps, there are a few other tools you can use to find the best route to take by bicycle.

Bikemap – Cycle Route Planner

One of my favourites in Bikemap, an online tool and app that examines the big data in order to find the most popular routes used by cyclists. Bikemap comes in a free and premium version. One of my favourite 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 Cycle Route Planner

Strava – Route Builder

Strava’s “Route Builder” is another handy tool with which you can plan routes by bike. Unfortunately, though, Strava recently moved this from a free feature to a subscription service.

COMMENT BELOW: How do you find the best route to take by bike?

p.s. Don’t forget to subscribe to the re-incarnated Discerning Cyclist YouTube channel. I’ll be posting lots more videos, including reviews and help guides, soon!

Pete Reynolds

Pete is the co-founder and editor of Discerning Cyclist. He commutes by bike daily from his home to his co-working space. Originally from Wirral, UK, Pete now lives in Spain. When visiting a new city, Pete loves nothing more than to explore it on two wheels. See Pete's Muck Rack profile

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