Excuse me while I go scrape my jaw off the floor.
General Motors, yes the enormous, global maker of the 4-wheeled, gas-powered vehicles we call cars, announced this week that it will begin offering a bike sharing program for its 19,000 or so employees at the 330-acre Warren Technical Center campus in Warren, Michigan. The Warren campus has a total of 61 buildings and about 11 miles of road. Due to the size of the campus, employees were having issues getting to and from meetings on different parts of campus, dealing with traffic and parking, waiting for timed shuttle buses, and walking long distances. One employee estimated that you could waste 30 to 60 minutes each day just getting around.
Not to mention, all the cars used on campus burn those nasty things we call fossil fuels and create pollution. We wouldn’t want our automakers exposed to such atrocities.
Enter the humble bicycle.
In response, GM started a 50-employee test program earlier in 2014 to see how useful bike sharing might be. Turns out that it was a huge hit! People loved riding bikes around campus, not dealing with traffic and parking, and getting some fresh air. Who knew?! Riding a bike (i.e.. getting a little exercise) and breathing some fresh air during the day is kinda good for your employees?! Well actually, Google figured that one out a while ago…
Anyhow, all sarcasm aside, this is pretty darn cool! Check out the video below to learn a little more about the program.
GM will be using Zagster bikes, which feature a nice little electric assist and a 7-speed hub when you want to power the bicycle yourself. Employees can easily access the bikes using an online registration program paired with a smart phone app that includes an access code. The bike stations are even solar powered, and GM is the first company to use the solar powered station feature.
Bikes also come with a nice basket to carry a laptop and a few personal belongings, as well as bells to notify other cyclists and pedestrians that you are out on a bike during work hours and totally loving it. Anyone riding the bike share bikes must wear a helmet (let the helmet debate rage on), as well. Lastly, employees can even take the bikes off campus when necessary.
So in conclusion, kudos to GM!
Of course, GM is not the first car company to provide bicycles to employees to get around large campuses and factories. Both Tesla and Volvo also offer company-owned bicycles. And bicycles have long been used in factories to move parts and people around large facilities efficiently. Additionally, major auto shows around the world have taken to offering journalists bicycles to get around the show grounds. Ford Motor Company is also getting on the bandwagon and will be selling Pedego Electric Bikes that are Ford-branded at Pedego shops and Ford dealers.
Nonetheless, it’s a huge step in the right direction when a major auto manufacturer embraces the bicycle on this scale. While I don’t expect GM to suddenly move away from car production into bicycle production, it’s definitely nice to see car companies acknowledging the benefits and utility of the bicycle. Maybe we can all learn to play nice someday after all.