MOUNTAIN VIEW (KPIX 5) — The tech giant known for providing users answers on the internet on Tuesday was looking for an answer of its own: how to keep its colorful Google bikes from going missing.
The “Gbikes” as they are often called may be intended for free sharing by Google employees on the tech company’s campus, but there are plenty of people who don’t work for Google using them.
“It’s nice because it has a basket,” explained John Martin, a non-Google employee who was using one of the brightly painted bikes to get to the library.
“There’s a lot of them around,” said Martin. “And you could just be walking along and see one and there it is and you can pick it up and take it to where you’re going. And then you leave it and somebody else takes it.”
Martin isn’t the only Mountain View resident taking advantage of the Gbikes. Even the city’s Mayor Ken Rosenburg is getting in on the act.
“I said, ‘Boy this would be really handy to take over to the movies.’ And they said, ‘Why don’t you do it?’.And I said ‘OK!” said Rosenburg. “They’re all over Mountain View, quite frankly. I had a friend come from out of town and was so excited to see a Google bike. So I think it’s just part of what’s now Mountain View lore.”
While the mayor said he made sure to return the bike to the Google campus, not everyone is so conscientious.
In fact, Google officials tell KPIX 5 that from July to November of 2017, they recovered between 70 and 190 Gbikes a week off campus.
Google has about 1,100 of the bicycles in circulation.
“People leave them places. The library people come to the library and they leave one there,” said Martin.
So the company has put GPS trackers on a third of the bikes to help locate them when they are taken off the Google campus. But officials can’t say how many actually are stolen.
“Oh no, it’s not just for the Google employees. I think it’s for the community,” said Martin.
Technically, the bikes are intended just for Google employees. But many like martin see and use it as a service to the community.
“You know it’s a good thing, because I don’t have a car for example. And I would have to take the bus and wait for the bus,” said Martin.
While Google employees are not supposed to ride the bikes off of the tech company’s campus, Google has hired some additional 30 workers whose job is to collect the bikes around the city.