Over the last ten years, Google has had a fleet of hundreds of free bicycles for employees at its Mountain View headquarters, offering a quick and easy way to get around the constantly expanding corporate campus. With roughly 1,100 of these “Gbikes” now available, Google’s latest problem is that it can’t keep local residents from riding off with them.
Google admits that it seems to be losing 100 to 250 of its multi-colored bikes every week, and has begun to develop solutions to get them back. The real source of the problem isn’t so much thieves with malicious intent, rather it’s local Mountain View residents who have begun to see the Gbikes as a free community service. The bikes are said to often end up at places like schools, taverns, and in one case, the Burning Man event in Nevada.
However, there are some residents that see taking the bikes as kind of revenge for Google essentially taking over their town. According to the Wall Street Journal, one man has a garage full of “borrowed” bikes, while another women uses them as a form of protest against the Google Buses, which transport employees to work from the San Francisco Bay area.
To help reduce its losses, Google has hired a team of 30 contractors with five vans who have the sole job of recovering the lost and stolen bikes from around the city. The company has also began testing GPS trackers on about a third of its Gbikes, and is considering locks that can only be opened with a Google employee’s phone.
SOURCE Wall Street Journal