Transported: A Bike Ride Through Google Earth


Welcome to "Transported," our new weekly series about getting places in San Francisco, whether you take the bus or the BART, bike or drive. Come here to find the skinny on secret parking spots, the new bike lanes and how to get across town on Muni without losing your mind.

Is it a new way to exercise indoors? A better biking experience during these apocalyptically wintry days? An underground pastime for tipsy tech/bike nerds? Google Bike, invented by the folks behind, is like a teleportation device into the virtual environs of Google Earth using the Streets view to navigate your way around town.

If you've got the right equipment laying around the house, you can bike to your girlfriend's house, to the grocery store, or to your local bar, get drunk and then wobble home without ever having to walk through your front door. Or, if you're a biking newbie, hop on and start practicing your Market Street commute.

As explained on, here's how to try it out: "A sensor from a bike computer is used to detect the rotation of a bike tire. The output of this sensor and the turning angle (controlled by the thumb joystick) is read by an Arduino and relayed to a computer over a USB cable. The computer reads the number of rotations and angle of the joystick and uses these values to control a virtual bike within Google Earth."

What you need for a virtual, two-wheeled joyride anywhere in the world:

    * Indoor bike stand, or suitable stationary bike
    * Bike cadence sensor (or reed switch and magnet)
    * Arduino
    * Small thumb joystick (you can get this from a PS2 controller)
    * Computer with Windows or OS X

Related Articles
Most Popular
From Our Partners