Google Would Really like If You Stopped Stealing Its Bicycles

Ok Google, where's my bike?

Google is one of the many Silicon Valley companies who like to rethink what normal is. We’re not just talking about search engines, phones, or the other various hardware and software products that it offers, but what it means to be a person. The tech giant is so dedicated to improving the workplace that it has inspired many other technology-focused companies to reevaluate the perks they provide to their employees. One perk that Google happens to give its employees is access to the company-purchased bicycles, but according to The Wall Street Journal, the bikes just keep getting stolen.

The company’s California home base, called the Googleplex, is where it develops cutting-edge technology, like its work on self-driving cars. It’s also ridiculously huge. The campus spans across a 26-acre site with many different public resources in its footprint. Often, employees will find the need to traverse the large campus to find their way to another building, which can prove to be a long and cumbersome task on foot. For this reason, in 2007 Google began to provide its employees bicycles to use to ride across campus more swiftly.

Google’s employee bicycles, via Getty Images

Google bicycles are hard to miss. Since 2009, they have been painted in the various colors of the company’s logo that just tend to pop out, it’s not like they’re hard to point out when walking down the streets of the Googleplex. A fleet of 1,100 bicycles are maintained on a regular basis, but we’re not talking about keeping their chains lubed and tires full of air. Rather, Google has to “maintain” the number of bicycles floating around campus because they keep disappearing. Every week, the company estimates that between 100 and 250 of its “Gbikes” go missing, something which has begun to add up in the cost department.

Cue the plan of action: 30 new contractors have been brought in to defend the bikes. The contractors have been provided with five vans which they will use the scour the community and locate any bicycles that happen to go missing, then bring them back to campus one-by-one. Slowly, Google will rebuild its bicycle empire and secure them using more preventative means including smart locks which only Google employees can open from their phone and GPS trackers.

The public is also fairly open about just taking the bikes, one person even admitting to WSJ that they regularly ride the bicycles to work at one of Google’s competitors, Oracle. It seems that although Google wants to promote a more bicycle-friendly environment, it also wants to keep people from swiping nearly a quarter of its fleet every week. Maybe one day Google will be able to use its autonomous technology on vehicles that are harder to steal, but for now, the pedal pushers will have to keep fighting for their bikes.