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MapLab: Why Google Hopes You’ll Walk

A biweekly tour of the ever-expanding cartographic landscape.
relates to MapLab: Why Google Hopes You’ll Walk
Laura Bliss/CityLab/Google Maps

When Google Maps launched its directions platform in 2005, it primarily served motorists seeking accurate driving routes. Public transit routes were available in a handful of cities, but a lack of clear walking paths to bus stops made them less than useful. Pedestrian and cycling routes were added years later.

So for those of us who rely on Google Maps to get around by bike, foot, and mass transportation, this summer has been big. To help folks ambulate more easily, the canonical digital map of the world rolled out a new tool earlier this month: a virtually augmented view of the streets before you, with gigantic blue arrows pointing which way to turn.