Google now helps you route your trip without a car

Plotting a two-wheeled course will be a lot easier the next time you head out of town with bicycle in tow.

When you use Google to search for a map and directions around town or a destination city, you can also choose alternative modes of transportation: walking, public transportation or, the most recent addition, bicycling.

Biking information includes efficient routes and designated bike lane preference and even takes into consideration avoiding hills and high-traffic areas.

Google Maps’ bike options cover 150 cities and other bike trails, such as the Rails to Trails Conservancy, Google’s official biking content adviser. In addition, avid cyclists are adding content for their local areas.

" Get Directions " will explain the route turn by turn, as it does with car directions, as well as estimate time and distance. You can use the satellite view to see terrain.

The map will distinguish between dedicated bike lanes, riding along a road and preferred, but not dedicated, lanes. You can click and drag the route to include a favorite path, picnic spot or point of interest, and Google will adapt the directions.

RTC expects use of the maps will help quantify interest in its Active Transportation for America program, which petitions for increased funding for bicycling and walking infrastructure.

" By making active transportation a viable option for everyday travel, " Rails to Trails reports, " we will cost-effectively reduce oil dependence, climate pollution and obesity rates while providing more and better choices for getting around town. "

— Karen Beal is a member of the nonprofit Green Living & Energy Education. She writes about the four Rs — reducing, reusing, recycling and rot (compost) —and green living. She can be reached at