Bike Portland has details of plans by Portland’s Metro transportation planning agency to integrate with Google Earth more deeply than anything else I have seen to date.
Metro’s got all of Portland’s bike paths available for download as KML, but now they’d also like to provide a trip planner for bikes using these paths, just like the trip planner that already exists for cars on roads. This sounds like it would take some work on Google’s end, and it doesn’t seem to be a done deal just yet, but Metro is asking for feedback:
Note: the trip planner is not yet available. Metro is exploring the use of this technology. Tell us what you think.
I wonder if there is a core trip-planning technology Google has that can then be adapted to arbitrary path topologies, or do trip planners for roads come riddled with exceptions to avoid nonsense results? If it’s the former case, then the work of providing a trip planner for bikes might involve little more than properly meshing a path network to a generic trip-planning API, and if that is the case, then perhaps soon anyone will be able to create their own trip planner services. But now we’re purely speculating.
Not that there is anything wrong with that. I wonder, would such a trip planner be sophisticated enough that it can use Google Earth’s altitude data to calculate gradients, and then offer cyclists is San Francisco the least upwardly steep route among its options?