For nearly four weeks now I’ve not only been stretching my legs through my neighborhood streets, but also Googling my way through various twists and turns trying to find the best routes. The best route can include anything from pretty houses to downward slopes to pedestrian-
friendly sidewalks. With the aid of Google Maps I was charting my path and mapping out my distances. The “map-by-walking” feature was nice to give me an estimated time, however, the one drawback was the fact that my feet did not always take the same path as the wheels on the cars around me. Minor, and totally livable, but a drawback when every step, every minute, and every tenth of a mile count. I don’t know how I found it, but the other day when searching for local 5K and the like in my area, I came across the Gmaps Pedometer. This is a cool tool.
Using the Gmaps Pedometer one can map out a running/walking or cycling route, can follow paved streets, or add in those cuts through the park, measure distance, measure calories burned, and for those with the inclination — even measure via the metric system. You can even view an analysis of the elevation, but truthfully, when I clicked that option the results meant very little to me, other than viewing a small graph with hills and valleys.
Here’s a quick run-down of how it works. It is pretty intuitive, free, and even produces a URL for saved routes that one can bookmark or save to favorites for future reference. NOTE: I accessed this tool using Firefox on my Mac; it might vary slightly across other browsers, and even possibly, other platforms. When you first visit http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/ you’ll likely see a screen with the main interface (pictured here), and a map with a box for entering your starting point.
If starting your route from home, you can just enter the address and click go. There is the additional option of customizing the zoom level before clicking “go”, or just enter go and adjust the zoom on the map itself. When you’re ready to start adding points to route, click the “start recording” button. You can now either enter addresses, or use the cursor to drag the map to your desired direction, then double click to enter a new point on the map. As you continue adding points, you’ll see the distance begin to add up. By default, the pedometer will be set to automatically draw the route for runners or cyclists, but if you like to take those non-wheel-friendly cuts in the path, you can switch to the “manually” (straight lines) option, make that cut through the park, and then go back to automatically — finally a way to go off the beaten path. If needed, you can “undo the last point” or even “clear all points and start over”. If you choose to do so, you can even enter your weight and receive a “calories burned” number. When finished, you can click “save” and the program will produce a URL for you, that you can use to “save to favorites” or “bookmark”, you can print, and for those who need it, there is also an option to export to GPX. Like I said, very cool.
In addition to creating a really nifty tool, the good folks at Google, have also been kind enough to put together some basic usage directions. Of course, I saw these after playing with it and finding my way around, but like I said, it’s quite intuitive.
For those of you interested in a review of the Gmaps Pedometer alongside some other route-mapping tools, check out this article from Anick Jesdanun in The Berkshire Eagle.