Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Google Introduces New Bike-sharing Service
The New York Times has reported today that Google has stepped into the bike-sharing arena as the provider of its 74,300-bike beta service in New York City. This program is more than two times larger than the nearest fleet size in the world. Following the naming lead of other popular programs such as Vélib’ and Velo’v in France, Google has named their program “Veloogle".
Veloogle stations are at every corner in chic neighborhoods, every third corner in up-and-coming neighborhoods, and other communities will maybe get a station sometime in the distant future.
All stations are uniquely powered with an infinite resource - waste cooking oil. Rather than solar power, which would be limited due to the city’s high skyline blocking solar rays to the street, nearby restaurants can pour their waste cooking oil into a compartment on a station’s kiosk and a chemical metabolizing agent breaks the oil down, creating energy, while also disposing of the waste oil in an environmentally friendly method. Google’s Chief of Green Operations, Alvin (Al) Goer, reports that enough energy is produced daily to power all of the 30,500 stations for the day as well as contribute 50 Megawatts of energy back to the local power grid. In other news, the local power company, con Edison, declared bankruptcy today.
To register for use of the program, one must have a Gmail account and provide their credit card number. The first 30 minutes are free and each additional 30-minute period is free too as are most of Google’s services. Already on the first day of use, there have been nearly 53,000 day, month, and year membership registrations and 431,000 trips have been made. Also, a biodegradeable helmet is dispensed for each and every trip which members may reuse or plant. An apple tree will grow from a planted helmet as a homage to the city’s nickname - The Big Apple.
With many technological advances that are pure Google, this system could be one of the very first of a 4th generation of bike-sharing programs. Veloogle’s innovations include: digital advertising on the bikes which are generated based on what the member is thinking; a global positioning system equipped on each bike that uses Google Maps to direct you to your destination via sidewalks or the sole bike lane; and a spam blocker that assists the bike dodge potholes, dog poop, and other debris.
At the launch ceremony, New York Mayor Bloomberg said, “There are two kinds of mayors: those who want bike-sharing and those who have it. I got it! So to all those who said it would never happen here, you can fuhgeddaboutit.”
April Fools! I wish portions of this were true, but it’s an April Fools joke. Hopefully, somebody at Google will read this and make the good stuff come true.