Stolen Google Bikes Litter Mountain View

Google may be good at surveillance, but they’re less adept at keeping track of stolen and abandoned company bicycles.

Photographing Travis/Flickr

Amid the lawn statues of green robots and candy at Google’s Mountain View headquarters nicknamed the Googleplex, an armada of distinctive yellow, green, and red bicycles are available for employees to ride around the two million square foot campus. Known as Google bikes, they’re colorful, nice bicycles available to Googlers as a free perk to ride from building to building.

But the bikes are apparently exceedingly easy for just about anyone to steal. Mountain View residents are complaining that dozens of these bikes are being abandoned every week about the city, particularly along a woodland pathway called the Stevens Creek Trail.

“Within a quarter-mile stretch, there were at least 13 bikes down in the creek bed,” the Mountain View Voice reported after a trip to Stevens Creek last week. “Some were covered in algae and sun-bleached, indicating they had been there for no short amount of time.”

Google acknowledged in an email to the Mountain View Voice that more bikes were being stolen this year, but declined to say how many.

The number of abandoned Google bikes tends to increase in the summer months, but Mountain View residents complain that Google is lax in dealing with the ongoing eyesore. “It just seems wrong that we have someone who is so wealthy that they have these throwaway bicycles,” Mountain View resident Steven Chandler told the Voice. “It feels like Google is too high up to go down and pull their bikes up.”

“I pulled out six bikes Saturday and put them by the trail so Google could get access to them,” Friends of Stevens Creek Trail executive director Aaron Grossman told NBC Bay Area. “I went back the next day and three of them had been thrown back down into the creek.”

According to the city of Mountain View, the abandoned bikes can be reported by calling the Google bike security team at (650) 253-5353 or by emailing lostgbike@google.com.  

The rampant theft of Google bikes is not a new issue, and KRON 4’s Stanley Roberts did a People Behaving Badly segment on the phenomenon back in 2014. “The word on the street is, if you want a free bike just drive to Mountain View,” Roberts says in the report. “People are scooping them up, sometimes in pickup trucks.”

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