Following the Trans-Canada Highway with Google Maps

There’s a new feature on Google Maps that I find most impressive. On our recent move from LaSalle, Quebec to Langley BC, we intended to follow the Trans-Canada Highway. In our planning we did not want to use one of the more complex sites that gives many itineraries. We wanted something simple. At that time we could have used Google maps but instead chose MapQuest.

To illustrate the problem that gave us, here is what such a program will suggest as the route to follow.

Google Maps 1

As it happens this is a Google Maps image, but MapQuest would offer an identical route. The length is 4,861 km and it suggests it would take 45 hours of continuous driving. That’s a somewhat astonishing average speed of 108 km/hour.

We wanted to travel in Canada so at that time using MapQuest we used a new feature which allows you to step along the route specifying the points you which to pass through. More details are available on this Beta process for MapQuest.

The new functionality that Google Maps now allows is that you can drag the route with your mouse to pass through other points. Take a Google Maps Tour, to find out more on how to get driving directions. Since we wished to pass through Calgary, that’s the first point we changed.

Google Maps 2

This increased the length to 4,943 km and the driving time to 50 hours. Again this gave an unbelievable average driving speed of 99 km/hour, presumably based on driving at the limits on all roads. Since it still took us through the United States, we then dragged the route to pass through Winnipeg.

Google Maps 2

That still didn’t do the trick. The length had now increased to 5,068 km and the driving time to 53 hours. For the record this is an average driving speed of 96 km/hour. By dragging the route to pass through Thunder Bay, finally we did follow the Trans-Canada Highway.

Google Maps 2

The length was now shorter than for the first route at 4,770 km with a driving time of 55 hours. This equates to an average driving speed of 87 km/hour.

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Barry Welford

The whole exercise was extremely rapid and took much less time than it has taken to describe it. Clearly Google Maps tries to find the fastest route from Point A to Point B. It does not try to estimate the time to cross international borders. It also does not take into account the beauty to be seen along the way. However as a planning tool Google Maps can be highly recommended.

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