Google Maps Launches Walking Directions

Google Maps today rolled out a new feature to the public: walking directions. Google tested the walking directions earlier this month and Search Engine Roundtable reports that they were rolled out to all US locations earlier this morning.

The walking directions feature is in beta, and warns users to “use caution when walking in unfamiliar areas,” but it already knows not to send people on certain roads. If getting from point A to point B includes hopping on the interstate highway, for example, Google won’t even offer walking directions.

The main difference between walking and driving directions? There are two that I can see: walking directions will send you the shortest, presumably safest (i.e., with sidewalks) route, including against traffic down one way streets, and the time estimates are adjusted for foot power. This map for example, picture below, gives directions from the Bleecker St. Station in New York City to Washington Square Park. Walking directions send you the wrong way down three one way streets, while driving directions send you in a loop the other way.

With half of the world’s population now living in cities, walking directions will be very helpful to a lot of people. Further, walking directions should also fix problems like the one the Sydney Morning Herald reported in 2007, where Google Maps sent people on an 18 minute drive over a $3 toll bridge to go essentially across the street. It would appear one-way streets tripped up the mapping application and caused the expensive route.

Walking directions also excite me because where I live was given a “very walkable” rating from recently launched Walk Score. Google Maps is the only major mapping product that offers walking directions since Ask axed their mapping service earlier this month.

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  • Andre Ward

    Looks good to me, but I wouldn’t use it. Since here in Puerto Rico everything is tight, you basically don’t need directions if you’re from around here.

  • http://www.dangrossman.info Dan Grossman

    Very walkable 85% here in Philadelphia, PA. I wish they’d add Philadelphia to Google Transit, though, as there’s plenty of public transportation, it’s just hard to figure out what bus, trolley and subways to hop to get where you’re going.

  • Jack Matier

    I’d love to see biking directions now, specifically with detection of what roads you can and can’t bike on.

  • kdan

    Nice little feature, Google just need to make it available to us in the UK.

    I had an interesting problem with Google maps this morning with IE6. Any page which used Google maps IE would refuse to show and give an ‘Operation not Allowed’ error message. I eventually found out it was only caused if the JS Script include was in the head with a self closing base tag. Explicitly closing the base tag () fixed it.

    I wonder if this update had anything to do with it as it was working perfectly yesterday.

  • Danielle

    It’s graet to see the interest in Google’s new Walking Directions. In Australia, whereis.com, has been providing Australian’s with walking directions for years. Just select ‘Travel by Foot’ when you’re getting a directions search. It’s a really useful tool that uses walking and bike trails to calculate the route.

  • twiddle

    Would be nice if users could rate the safety of the neighbourhood. Assuming people just don’t use it to find crack.

  • killerog13

    map24 has it already for a long time, but I don’t know if you’d call them major.

  • Anonymous

    can any one provide me the code for showing the path for the direction