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Google maps debuts walking directions

What does it say about car-centric US culture that, for all the eye-popping progress Google, MSN, and others have made with online maps, it’s taken me till now to find one that generates something as simple as good walking directions. Consider a trip to get lunch in NYC: if I punch in start and end directions, most of these services will send my through a maze of oneway streets a car would follow rather the sidewalk path a walker would travel.

Imagine yourself newly arrived to center city Philadelphia, checking online and being given directions to drive to a destination 2 miles away. This happened to me. It was only when I got to my destination that I realized what a simple walk it would have been.

Google’s map takes guess work and anxiety out of walking through a new neighborhood. Using street views, for example, you can even preview your foot journey to get a feel for the kinds of streetscapes you’ll stroll through.

Good work Google! Check out a sample here.

Late addition: I got a call from AOL Maps explaining they have a similar service. My bad, and let me know if there are other, good pro-pedestrian solutions out there.

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