I Know Where the Google Bikes Are

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Google maintains a fleet of 1300 free-range bicycles at its Mountain View headquarters. Employees appropriate them at will to travel across campus and beyond.

An unfortunate side effect of Google’s open-use bicycle policy is that some portion of the bikes get stolen. Some have been spotted in downtown Palo Alto, some have been spotted across the bay or up in the city. But most of the stolen bikes are right next door.

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The bikes are hiding in the Silicon Valley trailer parks. There’s a mobile home park less than a mile from Google’s main campus.

These parks once served as retirement communities for senior citizens, but now they largely house the families who cannot afford the rent on single-family homes. They can’t afford bicycles for their kids, either.

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Google chalks its bike losses up to the cost of being green. Maybe it chalks up the displacement of local families into trailer parks as part of the cost of, well, being Google.

Google employees don’t hang out at the trailer park, so the bikes are never reclaimed. But the parks are being sold off, one by one, to make room for swanky apartment complexes. And there will come a day when Google buys up the real estate next door. Then it will finally find its missing bikes.

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