Drive up Rengstorff Avenue over the 101 and you’re surrounded by ugly aqua cruiser bikes whizzing by you, their orange safety flags flapping happily behind them. It’s really the best way to know you’ve arrived at Google: you’re stomping on your breaks hoping to not kill a helmetless millionaire on a free bike. They appear to be free, or perhaps their value represents little more than a rounding error in most employee’s stock option plans, because they litter the campus like leaves in the fall, never locked up and simply everywhere. It’s dizzying, watching a Google employee pick up a bike and pedal off, oblivious to oncoming traffic, heading off to another corner of the far-flung campus. It’s not like they’re heading off to lunch–spend more than a week in Silicon Valley and you will have heard a half-dozen tales of how delicious the food at Google is (which, like the bikes, is also free)–it’s just the need to get, well, somewhere really fast. So enjoy a drive around Google, but drive with extreme caution.
(side trip: the Shoreline Amphitheater, which doesn’t actually line a shore but is across the street from Google, boasts as an original investor Apple co-founder Steve Wosniak; it is also the only concert venue I’ve ever heard of to have had a fire start due to methane leaking from the landfill that lies below it. Whoops.)