Google and Facebook engage in bicycle warfare in Dublin

10 May 2012

The Facebook bike that was 'brandalised' with a Google logo, possibly by Googlers, yesterday

A bicycle war between two tech titans – Facebook and Google – appears to be heating up around Dublin’s technology hub on Barrow Street.

The incident came about yesterday when a bike emblazoned with a Facebook logo as part of a cycling campaign was Googleised, as you can see from the main photo.

So what’s this bicycle war really all about? A cycling campaign known as ‘How Social is Your Cycle?’ has been running around Dublin City in the past few weeks to get people on their bikes and socialising.

Socialising while on your bike

A small bike company called Bear Bicycles, which imports the eponymous handmade Dutch bicycles, created the campaign with local cycling advocacy groups.

The company has its retail base near the European HQs of Facebook and Google on Barrow Street.

Olivier Vander Elst from GreenAer Mobility, which distributes the bear bicycles, said a keen cyclist by the name of Billy has been taking to the streets on a bear bicycle brandished with a Facebook logo.

“He’s been collecting stories from people to hear their best memories of when they’re out and about on their bikes in Dublin,” said Elst.

A cyclical affair

Billy in the How Social is Your Bike? campaign that is running around Dublin City

Keen cyclist Billy, with the original Facebook bike

While Billy himself is not into the social networking site, and doesn’t have a Facebook page, Elst said the cycling stories he has been garnering have been placed on the Bear Bicycles Facebook page.

“We just want to show how cycling is a social thing to do and that you don’t need to be online to have the craic,” said Elst.

And, as for Billy, he got a bit of a shock yesterday when he left his bike parked at the Dart Station on Barrow Street, only to return to see that someone appeared to have Googleised it.

“Some Googlers obviously came upon the bike and put the Google logo on it,” said Elst. “We thought it was quite interesting, especially with the Facebook IPO coming up.”

Quite bedazzled about the whole affair, Elst added: “What would make Google do such a thing? Surely, a company would not mind a bit of social cycling or healthy competition?”

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic