More and more app-based bikesharing services are rolling into cities, but for riders, that can mean more confusion as you search through multiple apps to find nearby stations and available bikes.
Aiming to smooth the way, Google Maps now tells you the location of bike stations and how many bikes are available in real-time. Even better, as you embark on your journey, you can also check ahead to confirm which nearby stations have an available space for parking your bike at the end of the trip. The new feature has been made possible by transit software company Ito World, which is now sharing its global bikeshare data with Google, among others.
Google Maps tested the real-time system in New York City last year and this week it arrives in 24 additional cities in 16 countries, namely Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Budapest, Chicago, Dublin, Hamburg, Helsinki, Kaohsiung, London, Los Angeles, Lyon, Madrid, Mexico City, Montreal, New Taipei City, New York City, Rio de Janeiro, the San Francisco Bay Area, São Paulo, Toronto, Vienna, Warsaw, and Zurich. More locations are on the way.
“Bikesharing is booming as this two-wheeled technology transforms how people get from A to B in cities around the planet,” Google Maps software engineer Andrew Hyatt wrote in a post introducing the new feature. “With an estimated 1,600 bikeshare systems and more than 18 million shared bikes in urban centers worldwide, bikesharing has gone mainstream.”
As Hyatt points out, bikesharing is a “convenient, affordable, fun, and hassle-free way to get around,” and in some busy urban centers can be faster than an Uber or Lyft ride.
Bikesharing services operated by the likes of Lime, Jump, and Motivate let you hire two-wheelers by the minute. Everything operates via the app, including unlocking the bikes and rental payments.
Some services are dockless, though issues with unused bikes blocking sidewalks mean that some cities only allow bikesharing services with docking stations, which is where Google Maps’ new feature comes in.
Google Maps has been rolling out a slew of updates in recent months. Just recently it added a feature that predicts how crowded your train or bus is likely to be, while another update offers foodies a new way to find a restaurant’s most popular dishes. It’s also been building out the app to make it even more useful for drivers, helping them to stay within speed limits and avoid speed traps.
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