I know how to get to the freeway, Mapquest!

Maybe I’m just missing this option.

I usually use Google Maps and Mapquest to get driving directions. I’m pretty much a minimalist, so I’m perfectly happy with directions like “280 south, 85 west, 17 south, 1 north, left on Laurel,” and I use the Zip code as my starting point if I’m starting out here in SF I realize I’m in the minority, so I don’t the extra stuff on Mapquest.

However, I would really like to be able to trim off what are usually the first 5-10 steps of the directions. To get from my house to Oakland, Google gives me 8 steps before I’m on the Bay Bridge, Mapquest gives me 8. I know how to get to the Bay Bridge, thankyouverymuch. I’d really like to be able to make a few clicks and have the printout omit those steps.

Making the starting point “San Francisco” doesn’t help; it just assumes some random intersection, and making the starting point a block from the onramp is a PITA and still wastes a few lines.

Anyone know of a site that does this?

Which would you rather have: not enough information, or too much information?


Preach it! I always have that problem, especially since it takes a number of different streets to get to the freeway from my house. Oh, well. There doesn’t seem to be a way around it with the current programming.

Can you use an intersection near the onramp as your starting point?

I just select what I need and print selection.

That’s right. Find out the address of the house closest to where you wish to start the directions. Use that as your starting point from now on. I know it is unethical to misrepresent yourself to Mapquest but I doubt you will get caught.

I copy and paste the part of the directions I need (the part after getting to the highway) to a Microsoft Word document and set the font to 24 or 36 point, so it’s easy to read in the car. If it’s someplace I need to get to more than once, I create an Outlook contact record for the person or business with the directions in the notes field. So when I go to print out the contact record, I have the address, telephone number and directions in one convenient page.

I just wish I could get “simplest” directions from Mapquest for someone like me, for whom every turn is an opportunity to miss the turnoff, or go the wrong way. Simplest directions would:

Use freeways instead of surface streets whenever feasible

When it’s not feasible to stick to freeways, stick to the most major streets possible

Make as few turns as possible

This is actually a GREAT idea, because when I’m zipping along the freeway at 65+, those damn steps are awfully small print. I’m going to use this idea soon.

I use Mapquest or Yahoo maps a LOT with my job. About a month ago, Yahoo maps suddenly decided that my office was on the opposite side of the street. So now when it tells me to turn left, I really have to turn right.

I’m not sure why that happened, but it was kind of funny.

Actually, you can use intersections in lieu of an address. For the starting point, enter the street names (like “Main & Clark,” for the intersection of Main St. and Clark Ave.), plus the city and state. This seems to be kinda flakey, though, and it doesn’t work for certain streets.

Mapquest did the opposite for my old address. They alway told me to turn right out of my driveway to go west. Only thing is, turning right pointed me east. They finally fixed it right before I moved.

The thing about all the web maps is they seem to always pick the longest, most complicated path.

I sent a request to Mapquest (no response) that they emulate MapsOnUs by allowing intermediate points. Deb has to drive to a lot of places in Cleveland and Mapquest nearly always takes her off the freeway at the southeast corner of the county and routes her up dozens of back streets to get to a place a quarter mile from another freeway that is nominally “farther” than their “direct” route. Allowing her to set an intermediate point at the junction of two freeways that she is going to take would make routing easier.

(OTOH, MapsOnUs used to route us over a 20 foot cliff from a side street onto the local freeway instead of sending us to the actual entrance ramp and has given bad directions at forks in freeways, so we tend to use Mapquest, anyway.)

I understand why it may be annoying to be told how to get to the freeway, however, when I make travel arrangements for my co-workers they are frequently in cities unfamillar to them where they do need to be told how to reach the freeway from the airport or their hotel.

I used to have a map program (it was from a disk, not online) from which you could get route options such as “shortest” “fastest” “scenic” and you could program in stops along the way. If I knew I wanted to go a specific route that wasn’t a default one, I would program a stop that would “force” the route that way. I can’t remember for the life of me what the name of the program was, but it would be nice if some of the online sites could use those features.

What I usually do is make my own written directions from the online map. Then I can start where I want and use as much detail as I need for any particular part of the trip. Plus, having to look at the map carefully enough to write the directions down, and just the process of writing the directions, means I’m more familiar with the route and less likely to get lost - especially since inevitabely, I’ll lose the written directions somewhere along the way, if they even make it into the car, so it gives me a slightly better chance of not ending up in Canada when I’m heading to PA.

IIRC, Mapquest, and possibly others, used to do this a few years back. I clearly remember being able to select quickest or shortest route. Sometimes they would be the same.
That was way back when Mapquest would also give you the satellite images too. And extra large maps. Ahh, the good old days.

You also need to verify the information.

My parent’s have a cottage that’s about a 4 hour drive from my house. It took my wife’s cousing and her boyfriend 6 hours and they live and hour closer!

They followed Mapquest directions (despite the directions we gave them) and it took them way out of their way.


Last Saturday my daughter was invited to a birthday party at an address I was unfamilar with. According to Mapquest, it was less than a mile from our house and pretty straightforward to get to. MilliCal is pretty gung ho about cycvling now, so I figured we’d ride our bikes there.
I get to the point where I thought Mapquest was directing us, and the turnoff doesn’t have the right street name. Nope, not the next one either. and I don’t recall any more turnoffs for a mile or more.

I find a house with the streetname we’re looking for written on the mailbox – only the street itself isn’t in sight! I ask them about it. They point out a very degraded and overgrown dirt path. That is the street Mapquest is referring to. It partially existed at one point, and doesn’t even go anywhere.

My daughter and I go the long way around, involving some serious uphill, and get to the party late. Afterwards, I look for the other end of that road – it doesn’t exist. Evidently Mapquest relied on a map (probably a town map) that showed a nonexistent road. (My home town has a road like that on their official map. It shows a road that physically exists in two parts that were never connected as a single, connected road. Physically connecting them would require a bulldozer anmd a major bridge.)

So, by all means, verify.

Salem, the program of which you are thinking is “Streets and Trips” by gasp Microsoft. Since I have IBD (ulcerative colitis), I found it useful for mapping rest areas and bathrooms along the way, since it had an option for displaying them, among other interesting side-stops. Very nice.

You realize that we’re all dissing a technology that ten years ago would have been thought of as voodoo. It’s still amazing that we can plug two addresses into a web form and in about half a second, get directions from point A to point B.

Sure, I’ve had my share of “Go 0.0 miles east. Make U-turn. Go 0.1 miles west” on a one-way street and mappings into non-existent roads. For that, it’s only as good as the mountains of data that have been fed into it. When you consider the number of roads that have been turned into pedestrian malls (such as parts of Michigan Blvd in Chicago, or Nicollet in Minneapolis) or subdivisions that never got built, they do pretty well.

But yes, I’d like a gestalt routing. Tell me how to get from the Bay Area to Yosemite in broad strokes. “580 east to 5 north to 120 east to 140 and look for signs” will do fine.