Google maps has just released bicycling routes - If you go to your area click “MORE” then check “bicycling” you can see the bicycling paths/lanes in your area. It is pretty neat, but you can tell it is still the beginnings since a lot of bike routes are missing - it seems to only show bike “lanes” or paths not bike safe routes that you can see signed throughout cities.
Either way, it is neat and if I go to a city to visit I will use it to see where I should unicycle.
You can also do bicycling directions (same area you would select walking/public transit directions).
It depends on the city. It seems like there was some thought put into the bike routes in Denver. They are signed and marked on the street with a bike stamp in the middle of the road. I have found these routes to be safer than alternatives here in Denver.
I’m not sure what data google uses for bike directions but when I tried mapping my route to work and seeing what they recommended it was a pretty bad route. The first half was fine bc it put me on a road with a bike lane but instead of having me go on said bike safe routes the rest of the way they had me go on a pedestrian only walkway.
I think it is cool to see bike paths and lanes on google maps now but I really wouldn’t trust the bike directions. Looking to see where bike lanes and paths are is a good start but then cross referencing with individual city bike safe routes is a good idea.
It does depend on the city. In a lot of cities, “bike route” is code for “get the hell off our streets”; bikes are shoved onto back roads with bad pavement and worse intersections. In places where bike advocacy is strong, in some cases the locals have managed to carve out actual good space for cycling. Although even in a bike-friendly city like Portland, competing interests within the cycling organizations can create some bad situations; Portland has a lot of good access to bridges and things, and an extensive bike network, but a lot of the bike network puts cyclists onto streets that have serious intersection problems.
It even takes into account hills, traffic or how much vegetation you want to see when suggesting a route. Unfortunately, it only works for Vancouver. Other cities (or google maps) should try to imitate that.