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Google Rolls Out ‘Wheelchair Accessible’ Route Maps

A ‘Directions’ option finds clear pathways via public transit

Couple riding in subway car

Ferran Traite Soler/Getty images

Google Maps has introduced wheelchair-accessible routes for New York, Boston, London, Tokyo, Mexico City and Sydney and is expanding.

Seeking to help those in wheelchairs figure out the best way to get where they want to go, Google Maps has unveiled a new feature that plots accessible pathways for people with mobility challenges.

The map service has long suggested routes best traveled on foot, by car or on bicycle. “But in city centers, buses and trains are often the best way to get around, which presents a challenge for people who use wheelchairs or with other mobility needs,” Rio Akasaka, product manager for Google Maps, wrote in an online post on the innovation. “Information about which stations and routes are wheelchair friendly isn’t always readily available or easy to find.”

To fill the void, Google Maps has introduced wheelchair-accessible routes for New York, Boston, London, Tokyo, Mexico City and Sydney — with more to come. “We’re looking forward to working with additional transit agencies in the coming months to bring more wheelchair-accessible routes to Google Maps,” Akasaka said.

Just tap “Directions,” then the public transportation icon, then “Options” and “Wheelchair Accessible” routes. Google Maps then brings up routes that take mobility needs into consideration.

Akasaka said the company has gathered information for more than 12 million places on important considerations such as accessible restrooms and step-free entrances. “We built this feature to make life easier for people who use wheelchairs, but accessible routes are also helpful if you’re on crutches or pushing a stroller,” he said.

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