Microsoft’s Monster Garage

Maybe Microsoft will add HOV lanes, bike lanes, and showers for bike commuters to a hugongous parking garage that’s “four stories deep, four football fields long and 1.5 football fields wide, with room for nearly 5,000 cars.”

Getting press on this, I wondered if MS is proud of that monster garage. How do you possibly offset that much carbon?



6 Comments

I would be proud of it, if I was Microsoft.  After all, they even put in bike lanes and showers.  I know some people who commute to Microsoft.  The fact is, most people drive their car to work—regardless of where they work.  I don’t think it’s the employers job to mandate how they get there—after all, they want to keep their good workers (even the ones that drive cars). 

I think it should be a personal decision to decide if you’re going to drive.  If not, it seems more like a city or state thing to try and get people out of cars and into buses or on to bikes.  Bike lanes, lockers and showers (not to mention all the bus routes) all seem like things Microsoft is doing to make it easy for people to choose alternate transportation—if they want to.

Fair enough —I’ve met a few MS commuters out riding, even talking [about asp.net](http://texturadesign.com/blog/2005/07/riding_with_aspnet.htm) once. Just the thought of a Monster Garage was depressing. That being said, Redmond is certainly a cycling-friendly city, and we can hope the garage has plenty of bike racks.

A company as huge as MS has the power to give us a gently nudge in the right direction - and some of us need that gentle nudge. Cultural change happens 2 ways, ground up and top down… and the more MS can do to support/encourage bike commuting, the better.

Sure most will drive to work, but that doesn’t mean we should make it easier for them… just because fast food is easy, doesn’t mean that it is good for us or the environment.

See that’s where I was taking it—I mean, “hey we’re building the worlds’ largest parking garage” doesn’t play as well as “we’re building it with a system to capture the run off of 5K cars” or, it’ll have 1 floor of bike lockers.

On that, when I was at Boeing, they were very progressive in terms of telecommuting, bikes, and alternative transportation

You will be hard-pressed to find an organization the size of MS who offers so much support for bike commuters.  Showers (with a towel service last I heard), lockers, racks, and security just for starters.  If you blow a rim or suffer some other inoperable issue on the ride - they have a “guaranteed ride home” program to keep you from getting stuck.  Companies can only enable and incent.  Past that - it’s up to the fatties to get off the freeways :).

...a topic near to my heart. As a former microsoftee, I agree that not many companies do more for bike commuters. Showers, flex-pass, guaranteed ride home. That said, I’m down with DL’s point. There’s just something _wrong_ about building the second largest parking garage in the western hemisphere!

As a fourth-gen seattleite, I often wonder how this region would have developed had microsoft in 1980 decided to build a cluster of mid-rise towers in say, Sodo (before it was called sodo…hell, they could have taken over Bell town. It was a wasteland until 1990) instead of embracing and setting the standard for suburban corporate campuses.

Would we have less sprawl? Would we have high-quality transit? Would Issaquah still be Issaquah? Would we have Vancouver (bc) like density?

Microsoft isn’t the only culprit—I’m an ex-REIer, too. I was pretty bummed when they first fled to Tukwila/Kent and subsequently destroyed more acres of verdant valley in Sumner for their mega warehouse. Meanwhile, they could have easily met their warehouse needs in Seattle with a little creativity.

Sure, these things would have cost the companies a little more up front but what’s the cost of paving over farmland and the combined miles driven by employees, delivery trucks, etc…?

Unfortunately, we are still a little short-sighted when it comes to doing the math on long-term projects. Yes, these companies are great supporters of cycling, but this issue is bigger than that and I’d expect these regional leaders to step up. If they aren’t going to do it, who is?

This is more just a symptom of our consumer desire to build our way out of problems. Heck, even the LEED green building standards reflect this. You can get LEED points for putting up a green building on virgin building, but you don’t get LEED points for electing to stay in your urban, not-very-green building and handling your need for additional space by allowing employees to telecommute.

Sigh… I’m going for a ride.

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