Google Wants To Make Silicon Valley As Bike-Friendly As Copenhagen
J Thoendell stashed this in Maps
In theory, the heart of Silicon Valley—towns like Mountain View and Santa Clara—should be the ultimate place to bike. It's usually 72 degrees and sunny; it's mostly flat. But it's also a classic example of suburbia designed for cars, bisected by 10-lane freeways and extra-wide streets filled with speeding cars.
Google is hoping to help turn its home turf into something more like the bicycle paradise of Copenhagen, minus Copenhagen's snow and bracing Baltic wind.
"We're in a place where biking should be the logical solution for any of your medium-distance commutes," says Jeral Poskey, Google's transportation program manager. "But if a route doesn't go all the way, you're not able to do it."
But after Google did everything it could to promote biking internally, from showers and changing rooms to locker space, the company realized that surrounding communities would also have to change if more people were going to start to ride.
Unsurprisingly, they tackled the problem with data. "Rather than looking at what bike infrastructure is there, they looked at the user experience, which makes sense for a successful tech company," says Colin Heyne, deputy director of the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition, which partnered with Google and Alta Planning to create Google's Bike Vision Plan for the area.
"They looked at levels of stress faced by bicyclists, and how those could change based on the infrastructure that could be there in the future," Heyne says. "By doing that, they're painting a picture of how we can really initiate behavioral change rather than just check items off a list and say we've put a bike lane in there—now we're done."