I've eaten a lot of crow in my day…but for the first time, I am going to announce it online.  I have been completely overly critical of Google Labs.  For many months, I have lamented at Google Labs' lame attempts to create useless products that are all flash and no function.  I badgered the online waves with rants about the need for them to focus on their current products instead of creating new ones.  Recently, I have been smacked in the face for my past comments, and that smack comes in the form of an addition to Google Maps.

Google Maps recently rolled out the beta version of Walking directions in their overall program.  It's great: if the distance you are traveling is less than 6.2 miles, you will receive the option to click on "walking" and change the map to reflect pedestrian-only roads, some sidewalks, and other quicker jaunts.  Living in a pedestrian-friendly city such as DC makes this feature a Godsend for figuring out just how far away that new restaurant will be from my apartment.

The blog announcement of the new feature is quick to point out that the walking directions are still in the beta testing phase, and many sidewalks, pedestrian streets, and other smaller roads are not listed yet.  As the walking directions become more fleshed out, the program can only get more and more useful.  I'm excited.

There are two additional things that I enjoy about the new feature.  One is that it contains a large yellow warning telling me that walking is dangerous.  Ah, to live in DC.

Second, if you have already selected the walking feature and then change the ‘to' and ‘from' directions to someplace very far away, you get some side-splitting results.  It'd apparently take me over 5 days to walk from DC to my parent's house in North Carolina.  I bet that I could do it.