Photo by conferencebike.com.

NPR’s Marketplace did a story yesterday about how tech companies encourage bike commuting, which: duh. But Google apparently goes a step further and encourages bike conferencing, via a giant pedaled monstrosity with seven inward-facing seats. The “conference bike” is set up so that all participants contribute to making the bike move forwards — but nobody is looking where they’re going. Man, has there ever been a better visual metaphor for work meetings?

Here’s what Google transportation head Brendon Harrington told Marketplace about the conference bike:

Imagine one person facing forward and then the other six people around a circle. And the way the bike is manufactured and constructed, everyone can actually pedal at the same time — all contributing to propel the bike forward. But since they’re facing each other, they can chat with each other, they can share ideas, they can have a team meeting if they’d like.

Yes, imagine one person facing forward! Then imagine their view is blocked by two coworkers.

This seems like it might conceivably be safe while tooling around Google’s parking lot, but Flickr is full of pictures of people using “CoBies” on trails, in the middle of the street, etc.:

Photo by drain.

The company says it has more than 250 bikes in use at companies in 16 countries, and presumably there have been no fatalities, so I guess the two-inch boost to the steerer’s seat is sufficient to make it possible to see obstacles before running your coworkers over them backwards.