If you want to get more exercise or be more environmentally conscious, you might consider riding your bike instead of driving. With Google Maps you can plan a bike ride in any of hundreds of cities across the United States. Here's how to use Google Maps cycling directions:

  1. Go to Google Maps at http://maps.google.com.
  2. Select Get Directions.
  3. Type your starting address into field A.
  4. Type your destination into field B.
  5. Click Bicycling on the dropdown menu.
  6. Click Get Directions.
  7. Click on the route of your choice. Google will suggest several, in order from shortest to longest trip. Some routes may take slightly longer but may be preferable for other reasons, such as avoiding busy intersections or rough terrain.
  8. Customize the route by dragging the blue line (your bike route) wherever you want to move it to [source: Google].

Google Maps will automatically choose a route that's not too steep and that will be more suitable for bicycles.

The map is color-coded as follows:

  • Dark green lines represent trails designated specifically for bicycling.
  • Light green lines represent streets with bike lanes.
  • Dashed green lines represent other recommended streets for bicyclists [source: Google].

In addition to seeing your route (the blue line) on the map, you can also:

  • Read step-by-step directions to your destination. These will appear to the left of the map.
  • Select Street View to see the road from street level instead of from an aerial view.
  • Click Local Search to find places to take a pit stop or get your bike repaired [source: Google].

You can explore bike paths in your area by clicking biking in the More menu. To check out the labeled routes, zoom in by sliding up the plus sign. (Zoom back out by sliding it down.)

If you have a problem, a comment or a suggestion you can get in touch with Google by clicking Report a problem at the bottom of the page [source: Google].

Although Google Maps for bike routes is available on mobile devices, running the app while cycling will quickly use up your batteries [source: Furchgott].