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Google Maps UK adds safe cycling navigation

British cyclists can rejoice, as Google Maps has finally added safe cycling routes to its UK navigation services.

The feature comes as the result of a collaboration between Google and sustainable transportation advocacy group Sustrans.

Google Maps UK now has a ‘bicycle’ symbol next to its driving, walking, and public transportation buttons, and will function similarly to those familiar options. Just like it would display driving directions, the function will bring up the safest route possible for cyclists.

Using Sustrans’ National Cycle Network database, it will prioritise cycle lanes, trails, and other protected areas, Google said. The service will also avoid pesky terrain like hills.

"Safety is the number one concern for people who want to ride their bikes and now it’s easier than ever to find the safest way to get from a to b on two wheels,” said Sustrans CEO Malcom Shepherd.

Google UK geospatial technologist Ed Parsons points out that the timing of the new service could be particularly beneficial to London residents, many of whose daily commutes will be affected by the upcoming Olympic Games.

"We know how popular cycling is in London and the rest of the UK, especially ahead of a busy summer, which is why we are thrilled to bring cycling directions to Google Maps,” said Parsons.

"We'll continue to add new trail information and urge commuters to swap their car for a bike as they can now find a convenient route,” he added.

Of course, the service, which is in beta, isn’t perfect and cyclists will have to continue to use their better judgment to determine how safe ‘safe routes’ actually are.

The update comes on the heels of new Android app that recently brought Google's indoor maps to the UK.