Google’s Walking Directions Debut

    July 22, 2008

Walking directions first became visible to some Google Maps users about two weeks ago, and whatever tests the company conducted apparently went well.  Walking directions are now available to everyone, with Google answering several of the questions that came up.

Perhaps the most important detail is that the tool isn’t omniscient.  Google’s learned to ignore one-way traffic flows, but "we don’t always know if a street has a sidewalk, or if there’s actually a special pedestrian bridge for crossing a busy street," admitted Andy Schwerin on the LatLong Blog.  "There are still a lot of pedestrian pathways we don’t know about, and they might save you some time if you find them."

Google Maps Walking
 Walking Directions Now Available To All

Next up is a distance restriction; according to Schwerin’s post, strolling suggestions only appear if your start and end points are less than 6.2 miles (or 10 kilometers) apart.  This is a tool for making short distances easier to travel, then, and not planning urban hikes.

Finally, whereas we first thought a beta tag and "Use caution when walking in unfamiliar areas" warning was an overcautious reference to person-on-person violence, Schwerin instead dedicated most of a paragraph to the idea of not getting run over.  Now you know, anyway.

Google’s walking directions remain technically in beta, and improvements should continue to occur over time.