Google loses up to 250 bikes a week, Oracle worker even helps herself to them: report

It’s no secret that Google’s colorful employee bicycles often go missing — but until now the scope of the problem was largely unknown outside the Mountain View tech giant.

Last summer, it emerged that some of the company’s bikes — intended to help Googlers move quickly and in environmentally friendly fashion around the company’s sprawling campus and surrounding areas — were sleeping with the fishes in Stevens Creek.

And now, a new report has revealed that 100 to 250 Google bikes go missing every week, on average.

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“The disappearances often aren’t the work of ordinary thieves, however. Many residents of Mountain View, a city of 80,000 that has effectively become Google’s company town, see the employee perk as a community service,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

And for the company, here’s one Google bike use case that’s got to burn a little: 68-year-old Sharon Veach told the newspaper that she sometimes uses one of the bicycles as part of her commute: to the offices of Google’s arch foe, Oracle.

Google doesn’t really want non-Googlers using the bikes, “but it’s OK if you do,” Veach explained.

Mountain View Mayor Ken Rosenberg even admitted to helping himself to a Google bike to go to a movie after a meeting at the company’s campus, according to the WSJ (paywall).

Google has recently equipped about a third of its 1,100 bikes with GPS trackers; these show the two-wheelers average about a dozen trips a day, covering six miles.

The firm has 30 contractors in five vans, tasked with recovering lost or stolen bikes — and they carry waders and grappling hooks for pulling bikes out of a creek, the WSJ reported Jan. 5. Still, Google’s not certain how many bikes disappear for good. From July to November, the company retrieved 70 to 190 bikes a week, roughly two-thirds of those reported missing from its campus, according to the newspaper.

Ensuring that only company workers are riding the “Gbikes” is not particularly straightforward: some Googlers don’t exactly fit the stereotype of the Silicon Valley techie. Company transportation executive Jeral Poskey told the paper he once took action when he saw what appeared to be a homeless woman on a commandeered Google bike.

“If I could describe her, you would agree with me,” Poskey said. “She looked all panicked, and then she showed me her Google badge.”

Photo: Google employees ride multi-colored Google bicycles to and from the GooglePlex along Shorebird Way in Mountain View, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)


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  • cafehunk

    So, not only is Google providing a free public transportation service, they’re also hiring the homeless. 😉

  • Gilwhooley ✓Trump ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    Write off

  • refriedbean

    Let them ride their own bikes and the problem would solve itself.

  • Jim Smith

    This is a classic liberal story of giving free hand outs and people abusing them. Google’s answer is to throw more money at the problem by hiring people and companies to fix it, much like big government. Sorry Google, your experiment has failed, just like most Social programs which end up costing tax payers a ton of money.

  • alur

    Funny liberals, when illegal activity affects their little kingdom, then it’s time for action. I say declare the area a parking lot sanctuary. If you need a bike, take one.

  • I hope Google is able to get pissed at bike stealing. Or am I going to be offered a second rate pixel display again?

  • JustASoccerDad

    Shining example of why communism doesn’t work. Someone ALWAYS corrupts it for their own benefit…be it the company’s rival or your ‘ethical’ politician.

  • David West

    Outfit the bikes with a high voltage package that would electrocute people not allowed to use them, problem solved….bikes are safe, perps are put to rest in the riverbed………

  • David West

    When liberals provide “free stuff” liberals will take advantage of it, the illegal users may make demands that Google puts electric motors on them……….that’s how liberals roll, gimme, gimme, gimme.

    • John Smith

      David you sound like an angry republican, dumbass.

      • Desdecardo

        And you sound like an ignorant Democrat, neanderthal. What’s your point?

  • Whiteguy


  • Obey Frank

    Bicycles promote healthier lifestyles and benefit all humans on this planet. Free bikes for desperate or needy people is something Google could afford.

    This isn’t a lib/dem versus con/repub issue either, it’s about doing good in this world instead finding an excuse to be hateful.

    • Gentlemanandscholar

      So why do you keep throwing them in the river?

  • Paula Adams

    Google is both savior and devil in the Bay Area. The cost of housing and rent are exorbitant as tech companies have made the Bay Area home. While they do provide jobs, the cost of living is too high for those not privileged enough.

    Frank is right, this is a way to help community and pay back for the use of their city. Google should make it a citywide perk. How bout a library style of lending? It would be easy enough to loan out with valid ID. Losses are a tax deduction. Google is the hero; everyone wins!

  • rrr

    How many bikes have you provided to your community, at your expense, with no questions asked? Socialism is theft by any other name. I’m guessing you’d rather not live around or near anyone that takes personal responsibility seriously.

  • Gentlemanandscholar

    So… how environmentally sound is it to have 30 contractors driving around in vans looking for these bicycles? How environmentally sound is it to keep producing bicycles? I postulate that they are using much more energy and resources than if they had people driving around in cars or walking.

  • Gentlemanandscholar

    Build That Wall!