G-maps pedometer (http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/) was listed in a previous post as being a useful tool for mapping runs. A G-map Pedometer user can type in her address and create a running route complete with mile markers. However, it might take a couple runs before the course is perfected- the streets might not be well-marked, or runners might not realize a mapped route doesn't have sidewalks, or has no shade.
A solution is to use http://www.usatf.org/routes/ or mapmyrun.com to plan runs. The runner provides an address and desired mileage, and other runners' routes become available. Routes on the U.S. Track and Field site are rated, with the best being designated as "gold routes." Routes on mapmyrun.com are rated on a 5-star system. Both sites allow for user comments. For a runner who doesn't have time to get lost or have to change a course mid-run, the site is helpful. There is no need to "reinvent the wheel," if another runner has created a safe and scenic loop in a nearby neighborhood.
The site would be beneficial, too, for runners who travel. By entering a city, landmark, and desired mileage, athletes can run tested routes in other cities.