Google Maps Improvement Requests

For creating and presenting bikeway infrastructure proposals

Eric Armstrong

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In Self-Organizing Bikeway Planning, I described a mechanism for capturing bikeway “connection proposals” in a way that would use crowdsourcing to collect and prioritize suggestions, after which a “map scraping” tool could be used to present the data.

I set out to emulate that kind of system using Google “My Maps” for input, and a Google Doc as sample output. Those efforts point to the kind of thing we need to create planning maps and to collect suggestions. The process surfaced a number of areas where the mapping tool could be improved.

A map with a points and lines marked on it.
Thumbnail of a preliminary bikeway-connections map

Requests

Here are the requests I made:

  1. Add a help/feedback option when viewing a map.
    If it exists, I have yet to find it. The only place it can be done is from the dashboard. You can add a screenshot when you create a feedback note, but a screenshot from the dashboard isn’t very helpful.
  2. Allow INCLUSION and REMOVAL of existing markers from Google maps for landmarks & orientation. (One base map has all of them, which is pretty distracting. The others have none. So I’m forced to manually re-add every significant landmark in a map I create.)
  3. Allow circles, boxes, & ovals.
    I want to put a circle around grocery stores and shopping centers as biking destinations, so they’re easy to spot at a glance, instead of tiny little points. Such “containers” are especially necessary when multiple location markers compete for the viewer’s attention. (Straight lines can be used to add irregular polygons, which is terrific. But uniform shapes of other kinds would be useful, as well.)
  4. Allow colored lines to be added (not just routes).
    I’d like to mark safe routes in green, dangerous routes in red, and caution-required routes in yellow or orange (whichever shows up better). Any given route will have line-segments with different colors, identifying areas where improvements are needed. (The documentation says that lines can be colored, but apparently that feature no longer exists, or does not work as the documentation describes.)

    Building on that capacity, I’d like to define connected-green-line “neighborhoods”, showing everywhere you can get to safely by bike from any given…

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Eric Armstrong

Eric Armstrong has written books on weight loss, golf, meditation, & yoga. He even builds a Yoga Meditation Bench. Turns out it’s an Ancient Tradition!