(Graphic: Peter Smith)
The League of American Bicyclists just announced record attendance for the 10th annual National Bike Summit. They’ve also announced a new speaker for tomorrow morning’s Opening Plenary: Shannon Guymon of Google, Inc. Could Ms. Guymon be here to make a big announcement about adding bike directions to Google Maps?
According to a press release from the League, more than 700 people from 48 states have already registered. That’s more than 100 more than last year (in 2001, the Summit’s first year, fewer than 150 people showed up). League President Andy Clarke says that more than 400 meetings have been scheduled with members of Congress during Thursday’s Capitol Hill lobbying day. “The Summit and bicycle movement is on the rise,” said Clarke.
That’s great news… but let’s get back to Google. A cursory search on Guymon shows that she does indeed work on Google Maps. She’s slated to present on “new features” at SXSW this Saturday in Austin..
Google has been working on bike directions for at least two years. Peter Smith, a citizen activist from San Francisco and author of the Google Maps Bike There blog reported in November that Google was actively seeking partners to help them gather data to launch the feature.
This is all speculation at this point, but it seems curious that the League would have Mrs. Guymon in the line-up (and she was a late addition). Also set to speak at tomorrow’s opening session are Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff.
UPDATE: It now seems likely that Google will announce a “Bike There” feature tomorrow morning. I’m meeting with a rep from the company after what they referred to as “an announcement.” They’d like to show me a “demo” and a spokesperson for Google said I “won’t be disappointed with the news.”