MapQuest Adds Cycling and Pedestrian Directions



MapQuest Adds Cycling and Pedestrian Directions

Source: posted on their blog today that

Due to popular demand – and our desire for options – we’ve just released worldwide pedestrian and bicycle routing on all of our open.mapquest.* sites along with domestic transit routing on our site!

The bicycle and pedestrian routing is wholly based on OpenStreetMap data – if it’s in the data, we’ll route you on cycle paths and foot paths.

I have yet to try this feature out, but will certainly do so the next time I need to get somewhere by bike.  Google released similar functionality quite a while ago.  While it’s better than nothing, I still think the functionality has a ways to go before it’s really able to provide a route as well as someone with local knowledge.

If you have a chance to try out the MapQuest feature, please drop us a comment with your experience.


  • MattM
    Mar 4, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    The fantastic thing about the Open Mapquest sites is that a large portion of the data is coming from the OpenStreetMap project, the Wikipedia of maps. If there is something wrong on the map, bike path is missing, or a connection isn't showing up that exists, its possible to edit the data and have it appears live within a couple of days. I've been adding detail to Providence as I can, flagging streets as one-way, adding bike paths/lanes, etc. Quite a thrill to see those pieces of information go live a little while later and influence the routing ability (bike routing has been available in the MapQuest API for few months).

    There is a data editor for google, and bug reporting as well, but not quite as good. Doesn't fix routing choices necessarily, but allows for rapid adjustment of data based on new roads, etc (eg: has the clifford street bridge over I-95, last I checked, google did not, but google does have point as bing one way, makes for some interesting and incorrect routes to get to the Upper South Side/West Side)

    Fritz at has been experimenting for a while with the Mapquest Open API and written a few posts about how to modify Open Street Maps data. The advantage to the mapquest solution is that if someone sees a problem, it is possible to go into the OpenStreetMap data that they are using and make the necessary changes on the fly.I wonder if that's how the clifford street bridge is already appearing in Open MapQuest, but yet to appear on Google maps.

    It also looks like they're providing an option for influencing the routing algorithm, which isn't yet possible on Google. I already am happier with this because it is possible to save a bike route to the MapQuest MyMaps feature, which isn't possible on Google. Downside is that there is no ability to drag the route line to alter the route on the fly, short of adding addresses as intermediate destinations.

    Fritz has a long write-up of the Mapquest features

  • Mar 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    The one downside I've found so far is that there geocoding is much worse than Google. It took me a good half dozen tries to figure out the right permutation of abbreviations and non-abbreviations before it would geocode my address here at work. Worse yet, it was routing me from somewhere up in MA when I put in "Providence, RI" and it thought just "Providence Rhode Island" was somewhere near Barrington/East Providence Line. Still playing though…

  • Labann
    Mar 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Yeah. Mapping for cycling and pedestrians is not only an afterthought but easy to do, since there is so little usable infrastructure. It's a vastly smaller information subset than motoring.
    Been listening to an interview with Dr. Michael Cahn of Sustainable Streets, who does nothing be decry use of construction workers on bike infrastructure, promote education over Complete Street compliance, and restrict cyclists further with inducements. He should go back to wherever he came from, instead of looking to feather his own bed on public funds. Gas tax can't pay for motorways, but they could easy pay for bikeways. The ratio of spending on bicycling to motoring remains an unsustainable 1:2500.

  • Jesse Hansen
    Mar 4, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    First, I have to say that I've been using Google Maps to plan recreational bike routes for years now. I was very happy to see Google include the South County Bike path and, more recently, include bicycle-specific route planning.

    It's great to see some of the other online mapping services start to catch up a bit. This is the first time I have tried to use MapQuest to plan a biking route. Playing around a bit, It seems to sensibly incorporate the bike path when appropriate. It always seems to find the shortest route — the bike path is just considered another path on that route. Google, on the other hand, tends to favor the bike paths, i.e. it's top suggestion will be a slightly longer route if that route includes the bike path.

    Another must for me: MapQuest allows rerouting in the same manner than Google Maps does. You simply drag a point on the route to change things. Only it doesn't seem to work all the time in MapQuest. Sometimes I'll drag a point and it simply refuses to reroute the path. Strange.

    The biggest problem with route planning in MapQuest is that I can't seem to change the starting or ending locations by simply dragging the "A" and "B" markers on the map. This is something I use all the time with Google to plan a loop that starts and ends at the same location. (I'll "grow" a route by sliding the end point along and anchoring a few points until I get back to the start.) Would that even be possible in MapQuest?

    Overall, I think MapQuest still has a lot of catching up to do to match Google's basic functionality.

  • Victor Martelle
    Mar 5, 2011 at 6:49 am

    I'm confused. Whats the difference between openmapquest and mapquest?

    I checked and they don't have biking or pedestrian routes.

  • Mar 6, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Whats the difference between openmapquest and mapquest?

    I "believe" the difference is mapquest relies on commercial maps, i.e. Navteq, whereas openmapquest relies on openstreetmaps data. The OpenStreetMaps data started from the US Census data and then they introduced an editing interface, allowing users to submit updates to the underlying map data. There are pros and cons to both approaches. The commercial data, other than being wicked expensive, guarantees it's accuracy. The OpenStreetMaps data is often updated much faster, because of the community nature. There is no guarantee on the data, it's only as good as those who input data, but most of us are not trained cartographers.

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