Google maps for the wheel-free

I love not having the worry of owning a car–between the expense and the maintenance chores, I found it stressful and I consider my car-free lifestyle to be about the best thing about my life in England. However, there was a bit of a gap in my knowledge base and now I think it has been fixed. Google’s maps have always been useful for road trip planning, but I just discovered that Google Maps has added a beta feature to track how many miles it is to WALK somewhere, or to help you map a route using public transport. Yeah! This gives me endless hours of fun. I don’t use the public transport option much, but the walking routes and mileages are excellent news for me. I now know that my daily commute to work is 0.8 miles, while when I first moved here it was over 2 miles each way (thus my weight gain since moving closer to work!) The distance from my new health club to home is just over a mile, the short walk from my office to today’s offsite meeting was about 0.3 miles while the long walk from home to the meeting I have tomorrow morning is 2.5 miles. If I don’t go home immediately but walk to the club from work, that’s 1.5 miles. The distance from work to the rail station is just under a mile, but from home to the rail station is 1.2 miles. Should I go on? I could do this for days. I have long felt that I did not have a good feel for distance in this town, like I was never sure exactly how far something was or how long it would take me to walk there. I know it may sound a bit daft to walk places more than two miles away for a meeting, but given the narrow roads, perpetual construction (“road works” in the local lingo) and general unpredictability of buses, I have discovered that for any reasonable distance I’m often better off walking. Now I can make a far more educated decision about when this option of hoofing it is actually reasonable.

Update: Ironically when I try to map public transport for either the home-to-gym or home-to-tomorrow’s-meeting routes, I get the suggestion to walk!


One response to “Google maps for the wheel-free

  1. My recent discovery is that Google Maps works with Chinese characters – you can throw in an address and then get this gorgeous map there… vital in crazy cities like Nanjing where half the roads aren’t labeled on the maps. But walking distances look great too – I can finally get a definitive reading on my DC run!

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