Celebrating Bike to Work Day(s)

Most days, I bike to work. No spandex, no special shoes; just me and my cruiser (and a basket on the back for my laptop). It’s about 4.5 miles door to door. Now, I give mad props to the folks who bike from San Francisco to Google every week. But biking to work is for regular folks, too. It feels great: the exercise, the fresh air and doing something “green”, all while giving my brain time to warm up for — or decompress after — a hectic work day.

So how can we get more people who live right around Google offices to get off their good intentions and on to their bikes? Well, we did recently release biking directions on Google Maps (including on mobile phones!) but in case that wasn’t enough motivation, there’s no better time to try than on Bike to Work Day!

We celebrated Bay Area Bike to Work Day this past Thursday at Google’s HQ (as usual, Northern California’s date was ahead of U.S. National Bike to Work Day). The rest of our offices will take up the bike-commuting cause at the end of this week and into next week, from Bangalore to Zurich. Last year, 42 Google offices participated in Bike to Work Day — and we hope to top that this time around.

To prepare for Bay Area Bike to Work day, our employees hosted a How to Bike to Work tech talk and volunteered time at a free bike repair clinic. Those Googlers repaired over 40 bikes in 2.5 hours — not bad for an all-volunteer outfit. And we had a whole pile of volunteer group ride leaders plan to lead 20 different rides in from all over the Bay, to help folks get to work safely and in style.

Last year, we aimed for 1,000 riders globally, and beat that handily (1,322 riders total). So we decided to raise the stakes and shoot for 1,000 in Northern California alone. And we did it: 1,019 riders to our Mountain View, San Bruno, and San Francisco offices. That’s a new record for Google and almost five percent of our total employee population!

The longest ride was 71 miles...from Palo Alto. (Via Pescadero. That’s what we call taking the loooong route.) The Santa Cruz crew came straight in and went 55 miles one way...and some of them were talking about biking home, too! 172 Googlers came in from San Francisco — but thanks to Google’s extensive shuttle system, most of them can get a lift back home.

The largest turnout came from Mountain View, of course — 272 folks came from right around the ‘plex. Considering more riders came from SF than Mountain View last year, our super-locals had some pride to win back!

For me, the highlights included free massages, furry friends, tiny companions, a skeleton, a unicycle and the Warp Speed Conference Bike team who rode a 400+lb contraption all the way in from Redwood City. (Witness also the classiest bike jersey ever.) Oh, and seeing our smiling CFO check in, who biked in even though it was Shareholder Day on campus! Not to mention a certain founder with his solar-panel backpack.

But the real joy was hearing all the people who said, “You know, I never thought I could do it. But it wasn’t so hard after all! I will definitely do it again.” That’s what Bike to Work Day is all about.

Overall, we had tons of fun spreading the bike-commute love here in Mountain View, and we can’t wait to see what our fellow Googlers get up to all around the world. Maybe we’ll even hit our stretch goal: 2010 riders in 2010! In the meantime, check out our photos from Thursday’s party-on-wheels to get psyched for your own ride to work.