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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Side-by-Side Router Compares Driving, Walking, Biking, and Transit [Mobility Lab]


Online mapping applications have become an essential tool for route planning.
The route planner from Google Maps originally assumed everyone wanted driving directions for cars, but has grown to include options for biking, walking, and transit. Availability depends on the location, but I’ve been impressed with Google Maps’ coverage.
Using Google’s “application programming interface” (API), I created a tool that lets you compare all four options at the same time.
I call it the Side-by-Side Router. Once you pick two end-points, the four modes’ routes are drawn with different colors. It’s been surprising to see how the routes vary depending on the mode. The program also gives you the total travel time and distance for each mode.
As an advocate for biking and transit, it was a bit disheartening to see the driving mode “win” when it came to creating the fastest trip. But the driving directions assume what is known as “Doris Day parking,” the phenomenon where one magically finds an empty parking space immediately in front of one’s destination. (For an example, turn to 0:59 in this clip.)

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