It’s been a long time coming, but Apple Maps finally has bike paths for your iPhone. Google Maps has had cycling support for ten years now, but many of the more useful features had been incorporated in recent years. Well, with iOS 14, Apple has come in and it has done a fantastic job.
You could even say Apple’s version is more advanced for cyclists, complete with indicators for bike lanes and bike-friendly roads, as well as settings to avoid steep hills and busy streets. At the moment, the feature is only available in the San Francisco Bay area, but it will be expanded to at least Los Angeles and New York City this fall. Whether you are an experienced veteran or a beginner cycling around your city, the new cycling feature is a welcome addition to Maps.
Using the cycling directions in Apple Maps is as easy as using the general directions to get from point A to point B. In the app, enter your location and destination as usual. When the two coordinates are set, you will notice a completely new bicycle icon that is sandwiched between public transport and the walking options ̵1; tap on it.
View routes directly on the map
If there are cycling directions in your area, you can get one or more routes to choose from. On the map itself, it will recommend which route to take and identify routes with labels such as “Suggest”, “Fastest”, “Includes busy roads” or “Less busy.”
You may also see icons on the map to warn you of certain conditions. Specifically, there are new icons for where the stairs are in a route, where there is a steep slope and when you need to get off the bike and walk.
View more information about each route on the map
Pull up the scorecard to see more information about the routes. Each option shows the estimated travel time, distance, graphical altitude and a brief description of the trip (gentle hill, 150 feet of ascent, etc.). One of the finer features is the visual of the elevation overview; the higher the bar, the steeper. All flat roads are shown as very short bars.
It also shows if you use bike lanes, shared roads, highways or a combination of them. If that was not enough, it can also tell if the route has roads shared with pedestrians and if you need to walk or take a ferry for any part of it.
Avoid hills and busy roads
If you want to avoid hills or roads, you can switch between these options at the bottom of the cycling instructions options. However, there may be no choice but to go on hills and roads, so Apple will let you know with a warning under your options, even if they will have fewer hills and busy roads than if the options are not turned on. You can also turn these options on and off in the Maps settings, but we’ll get to that in a second.
Navigate your bike paths
When you are ready to start your journey, press the big green “GO” button. On the map you see your bike directions and at the top you can see the road-to-turn directions. Drag to the right of the upper section to see your upcoming turns.
Drag up on the motherboard to see an “Overview” or more “Details.” In the “Overview” section, you see the entire route at once. In “Details” you will see a more in-depth look at your bike directions, such as which roads are main roads, shared or bike lanes. At the top you will see a more detailed height overview that contains the highest and lowest (in feet or kilometers) you have to cycle, along with a numbered chart.
Change settings for cycling directions in maps
In addition to the settings in Maps, there are some cycling options that you can change in the Settings app. Open Settings and then select “Maps”. Here you have a couple of bike options to choose from, starting with yours Preferred type of trip. If you cycle more than you drive, walk or use public transport, click on “Cycle.” Then you will always show the bike description first when you enter directions in Maps.
If you browse a little more, you will see the option “Cycling” below Directions. Here you can switch to “Hills” or “Busy Roads” to avoid them at any time when you get bike descriptions in maps. Apple also used to list “Stairs” but removed it for some reason (hopefully it will come back).
Use cycling instructions with an Apple Watch
If you are an Apple Watch user, Maps in iOS 14 offers “custom cycling voice guidance and a rich experience on the Apple Watch that makes navigating at a glance easy.” So you probably like to track your cycling via the Workout app.
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