San Francisco– Google has introduced new biking features in Maps after learning that requests for cycling directions in Maps jumped by 69 per cent, hitting an all-time high last month, in Covid-19 times as more and more people look for safer ways to get around.

Starting from Tuesday, when people look up biking directions, they will see end-to-end directions that include “docked bikeshare” information in 10 cities globally.

Steps will include detailed walking directions to bikeshare stations near your starting point along with live bike availability, turn-by-turn cycling directions to the bikeshare station closest to your destination with live dock availability and walking directions from there to your final destination.

“For some cities, Maps will show you links to open the relevant bikeshare app to book and unlock the bike,” said Vishal Dutta, Product Manager, Google Maps.

“As more people choose to cycle, they’re buying new bikes, fixing up old ones and turning to bike sharing options. In fact, worldwide search interest for ebike repair near me’ hit an all-time high this month, more than double what it was last year,” Dutta said in a statement.

Over the last several years, Google has launched a dockless bike and scooter integration with Lime in more than 100 cities and introduced real-time docked bikeshare information to help travellers in select cities locate bike sharing stations and real-time availability.

With bikeshare providers seeing sharp increases in usage during Covid-19, “it’s even more important to quickly and easily check how many bikes are available at the station you’re headed toward and if there are docks available to drop off your bike near your destination”.

Google introduced biking directions in Google Maps 10 years ago. Now, it’s available in nearly 30 countries around the world and millions of people use it every day.

“As biking habits change, especially as things evolve with Covid-19, we’re constantly updating this information to help you uncover the most reliable bike route,” said Dutta.

Google Maps uses a combination of machine learning, complex algorithms and understanding of real-world conditions based on imagery and data from government authorities and community contributions.

“We’re working to integrate hundreds of thousands of new bike lanes in the coming months. Local government agencies can provide this data through our Geo Data Upload tool to have their latest bike lane information reflected in Google Maps,” informed Dutta. (IANS)