Google Maps Goes Off Beaten Highway

    May 25, 2007

There’s nothing quite like a stretch of wide-open road, but a clogged, backed-up highway doesn’t elicit the same feelings.  Somebody in Mountain View apparently realized this – or felt the need to catch up with the competition – and Google Maps now has an “avoid highways” option.

In a post on the Lat Long Blog, Barry Brumitt, a software engineer, explained Google’s implementation of the feature.  “When you click the the [sic] ‘Avoid Highways’ checkbox, the route instantly updates to one that tries very hard to stay off of interstates, motorways, and other major roadways,” states Brumitt.

He then admits, “This may give you a much longer path, but one that you may find more suitable.  If it isn’t what you want, you can uncheck the box and quickly revert to the normal route to help plan your trip.”

For some of us, this update won’t be a big deal (your WebProNews writers live around Lexington, Kentucky, where the traffic is generally pretty decent).  But for others . . .

MG Siegler writes, “I can’t tell you how useful this would have been when I lived in Los Angeles and every single time I would look up a direction on Google Maps it would tell me to take either the 101, the 405, or the 10.  Anyone who has ever lived in Los Angeles knows that you don’t want to be anywhere near those beasts from about 3:30pm – 7:30pm on any given day.”

So three cheers for Google may be in order.  Granted, other mapping services have offered an “avoid highways” feature for a long time, but, with all the other mapping and mobile services Google has been releasing lately, it’s easy to see how this option could have gotten placed on a back burner.