Guest blog by Anna Walters at Bikes Make Life Better
I love when I unexpectedly encounter something wonderful while moving about my normal space in my normal fashion—things like parklets, Little Free Libraries, or bike racks that double as outdoor sculpture. These urban-design delights have a few common elements: They solve an infrastructure problem; they feel serendipitous; and they usually provide a better user experience than a run-of-the-mill solution.
LinkedIn’s recently-opened bike and pedestrian path is a great example of this kind of design thinking. The “Blue Line,” modeled by architecture firm Gensler, connects two of LinkedIn’s building groupings at it’s SunnyvaleHeadquarters, following the perimeter of the Synopsys’ parking lot and Encinal Park.
The 8 foot-wide path is more than a route between A and B. Its unique features make it feel like a spaceship ride … or flying inside a flock of birds …or riding the London Underground! A few seemingly errant bright blue chevrons painted on asphalt “light the way” to the beginning of the path, then converge into a uniform swarm. These chevrons ebb and flow along The Blue Line, intensifying at potential conflict zones. Paying attention to their pattern makes riding that ⅓ of a mile breeze on by.
The Blue Line also features posted signs that mimic transit signage and match other wayfinding features of the campus. Everything is done up in blue to match LinkedIn’s company colors. The path weaves between a small redwood grove, and halfway down, a giant elevated mirror helps users see others coming around a blind turn. Riding or walking on The Blue Line is not only a stress-free experience, it’s also good plain fun.
The project was born out of a need to get LinkedIn employees between 1000 W. Maude Ave. and the company’s newest buildings located at 700 E. Middlefield safely and efficiently. Prior to the path opening on Bike to Work Day in May, employees riding company bikes to meetings at 700 had two not-so-great options: Either take a left turn from Maude across four lanes of traffic (impossible during rush hour) or dismount and walk bikes on the sidewalk for a half mile (inefficient).
LinkedIn ensured the Blue Line would be a success by doing pre-launch communications, having security officers staff the entrances on opening day to direct people, and handing out branded “Blue Line” stickers at company events.
“Once people know it’s there, they love it, says Danielle Glaser, LinkedIn’s Employee Transportation Manager. “They tell their friends, and as a result, it’s one of the most active places on campus.”