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Pedal Express Turns 20

20th Anniversary Flyer

By Dominic Lucchesi

It’s hard to believe, but Pedal Express was founded over two decades ago in 1994.  Obviously, I personally have not been with the company for that long – I was 9 years old when PedX made it’s first delivery.  Still, I am fascinated by the history of Pedal Express – such a unique company, with an activist tradition that remains strong ’til this day.  I’m just honored to be a small part of it.

Touring the Pedal Express office, you can find stacks of old photos, sweat-stained uniforms, and binders full of marketing material – Pedal Express memorabilia dating from 1994 to today.  Several “generations” of people have come through Pedal Express over the past twenty years.  All of them with their own story to tell; all of them contributing something to the unique character of Pedal Express.

To me, Pedal Express represents the best of the modern courier industry.  While we work exclusively by bicycle, Pedal Express is about more than just bikes.  Pedal Express is about community.

I recently contacted David Cohen, one of the original founders of Pedal Express.  While he no longer resides in the Bay Area, he continues to live a largely car-free lifestyle, and has been a great source of information about the early days of Pedal Express.  Yesterday, on the eve of the 20th Anniversary of Pedal Express, David shared some of these stories with me.  I’ve posted the (almost) full transcript below, both for you to enjoy and for historical purposes.

Before I let you go, I’d like to invite you to our 20th Anniversary Party.  It will begin at 7pm on Saturday, June 14th at the Golden Bull in Downtown Oakland.  We’ll have Goldsprints, music, a raffle, and vegan birthday cake.  I guarantee it will be a night to remember!

Dave with some Emerson School kids

Pedal Express Origin Stories – By Dave Cohen

AFBAC Genesis of PedEx

Pedal Express was an outgrowth of a group that I formed in the early 90’s called the Auto-Free Bay Area Coalition (AFBAC), which itself came about through a collaboration to create a Berkeley Car-Free Day in 1992.  The organizational aim of AFBAC was to support anyone wishing to live a car-free or car-reduced lifestyle and to do lots of public outreach.  We did programs in high school driver’s ed classes, created elaborate street theater performances, published a newsletter, and even got involved in a lawsuit to stop the widening of I-90.

AFBAC also made some wonderful One Less Car shirts that incorporated a gnarly but cute illustration on the front that depicted caribou attempting to get across a pipeline, oil wars, oil spills, traffic jams, fish and birds dying, a man in a car shooting up gasoline into his veins and other things I can’t even mention.  As I said, ‘gnarly’, but it also had a certain levity to it.  At the bottom of the illustration were the words ADDICTED TO OIL and BRAKE THE HABIT NOW.  The slogan, ‘One Less Car’, was on the backside and we sold hundreds of them. Our CARS KILL EVERYTHING shirt didn’t sell nearly as well – it didn’t have the cuteness factor.

CAT Trip

In October 1993, AFBAC organized a trip to the Center for Appropriate Transport (CAT) in Eugene, OR. I chartered a Green Tortoise bus to take us there and back. The folks that signed up were bike visionaries and activists from both sides of the bay. Lots of folks from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (also the Bay Area Bicycle Action – BABA – a sort of rogue alter ego of the SFBC) came, as well as AFBAC folks and East Bay Bike Coalition members.

The trip was a blast! It was like going to bike heaven and we turned Eugene upside down for 36 hours. I can’t tell you if we ever slept because all I can remember is riding all over town at all hours with an arsenal of bikes and getting into intense conversations with Jan VanderTuin, the CAT founder. Most of all we were blown away by the cargobikes and different bike designs, the machine shop, showroom, repair collective, advocacy groups, and a delivery service, Pedaler’s Express, all under one roof.

I came away totally taken with the idea of creating a delivery service in the East Bay as a fantastic way to do the AFBAC mission every day.  In reality, I was thinking about this long before the trip. In my work to create a Berkeley Car-Free Day, my dream was to have cargobikes and trailers throughout town, with riders ready to run errands for the elderly and anyone in need. Finally, I learned that only a handful of folks had trailers and that there were no cargobikes around. Bummer… That’s when I started thinking about creating a delivery service.

So, while running AFBAC, I began pondering how much better and more effective it would be to be doing the work every day in the streets, demonstrating an exciting, fun alternative, rather than running a volunteer advocacy group. I loved the ruckus AFBAC caused, but it was missing something. Once I saw what Pedaler’s Express was doing and the Longhaul bikes, I was sold. I discussed this idea with two other trip participants; David Carcia, a SFBC activist, and Michael Studebaker, founder of Studebaker’s Delivery (which was the only bike messenger service in the East Bay at that time).

Post CAT Trip

After the CAT trip, many of us continued to get together in San Francisco to plan a vision of a CAT in the Bay Area – we were going to call it something like The BayCat. We had lots of folks with pretty diverse skill sets, but in the end we couldn’t really agree on how to get things organized and even where it should be – the East Bay or SF. A few projects did emerge from the Cat trip, which included the Bicycle Dojo, Bogart’s Trailers and a few other ideas, but as far as I know, Pedal Express was the most substantial project to be birthed from the trip.

Anyways, David, Michael and I started planning our business on the bus trip back and during the months that followed. Mike was interested in this because he wanted to see if he could lend his expertise to another bike transport business and we all felt like the work we would be doing with PedEx wouldn’t really conflict with Studebaker’s. His ideas and business realism helped us get onto sure a footing. We all decided to put in an equal share of money to purchase our first two Longhaul cargobikes and cover some very basic operating expenses. Nobody got paid until probably 8 month later. For months while we waited for our bikes, we began to work on our business and marketing plan.

Launch Event

Sometime in April 1994 Jan VanderTuin and the bikes arrived on a Green Tortoise bus. It was so totally exciting to have Jan personally delivery the Longhaul cargobikes. We set up a special event for that evening at the Missing Link to introduce the company and the concept to the community. We packed the house with all sorts of folk, including lots of Berkeley luminaries. Jan showed an amazing slideshow at the event about the history of cargobikes and how they can be a great addition to the transportation mix of any community. There was wine, cheese, and local foods all donated by local businesses. I wish we still had the program sheet we made up for the event – perhaps it’s still somewhere in the PedEx files.

Jan Gassed Silly

Right after the event Jan and I brought the Lounghauls over to my apartment on Delaware St and we partied some more with Mike, David and a few other folks. That night Jan slept on my couch right next to the new the fresh, new cargobikes. In the morning I got up to treat Jan to some yummies at the Cheese Board and coffee at Peet’s, but I was barely able to move him off the couch. When he finally “came to” I realized that my bedroom had the powerful fragrance of the fiberglass LongHaul containers which were still off-gassing and that Jan had been breathing that sickly smell in all night long. I urged him to get up and get out before he succumbed to the fumes. I finally had to pull him out of my place into the fresh morning air of Berkeley to revive him. We had a great weekend with Jan once he was detoxed with some black Peet’s.

The Nightmare

As we began planning the business and getting the word out, I had a series of nightmares about all kinds of things. One that I can remember vividly revolved around the question of what to do if you really needed a bathroom in the middle of a delivery run. I dreamt that I was riding in downtown somewhere and need to ‘go’ real bad. The only place I could think of was up three flights of a narrow stairway. It occurred to me that I didn’t have a lock so my only choice was to carry a loaded LongHaul up the stairs which was absolutely excruciating. I don’t remember if it was number 1 or number 2, but carrying a LongHaul up three flights scared the shit out of me when I woke up.

Home Office

So for the next several months we operated out of my apartment. It was a great way to keep expenses down, but also a great way to really piss off a roommate. With the bikes taking over the living room and the office taking over my bedroom and life, there wasn’t much space for anything. In the beginning, we didn’t have much to do as far as deliveries, but I was talking with folks from at the Berkeley city offices and others and things looked promising. It was mainly David Carcia and I who did all the groundwork for the biz as Studebaker was already running his own company and he was mostly hands off.

First Delivery

Our first real delivery I can recall was for a bike event in Oakland right near City Hall. They wanted us to show off the bikes and make a delivery of food. We found out that day, to our surprise, that we were assigned the job of picking up a massive order of burgers and fries from McDonalds. This was total letdown and I was totally crestfallen at using our bikes for such an errand. We ended up delivering the tainted goods, but then afterwards had a lengthy private ritual of burning sage in and around our still off-gassing fiberglass containers. Nothing like food snob bikeheads.

Mock deliveries

For a while I went on mock deliveries around town with all sorts of packages and envelopes to give people the impression we were off and running. I’d walk into buildings and go up stairs to make it look real. A number of folks remarked to me about how impressed they were that we got off to such a quick start. Perhaps it’s time to let the real truth out.

Earliest Clients

One of our earliest clients was the City of Berkeley contracts with the transportation and planning commissions. I was on the transportation commission for a couple of years so I had a bit of sway on the inside.   The Bread Garden came on pretty much in the beginning and we collecting day old garlic cheese baguettes for years. I think that Palm Press came on board around the same time.

Articles – LA TIMES

Our first article appeared in the Contra Costa Times, but the real big piece was the LA Times in June 1994. That month we also had an article in the Oakland Tribune and a report on NPR.

Ice Cream Bike?

So, early on some Berkeley residents were a bit confused by what we were up to. Some folks thought that we were advertising for something and others thought we were just delivering lunches. One day I was slowly riding down towards West Berkeley on Berkeley Way and I overhead a young boy exclaim to his dad “look, an ice cream bike.” At that moment his dad chimed in quickly to say “no son, that’s PedEx. They deliver packages and do good work for the City of Berkeley.” I rode on with my fist up and belted out a huge “YES, you tell him daddy.”

Slowing Down Studebaker

By the end of summer 1994, Mike Studebaker decided to back out of Pedal Express. At some point we started thinking erroneously that Studebaker was ready to buy cargobikes and go into competition with us. We decided to fight back with the only weapon we had. After several months of eating those day old garlic cheese baguettes, we began to realize that they had some rather intense deleterious impacts on our energy level and physical stamina. They sort of made us feel like we had 10 lbs of air pressure in our tires.

So, one afternoon we hatched the brilliant idea of handing the baguettes to the Studebaker riders. The next morning I had some 10 or so day olds to distribute to our mistaken archenemies and sure enough I had an early sighting of one of Studebaker’s messengers coming out of an office building. After a friendly chat I told him I had a little present for him. I showed him a garlic cheese baguette and he told me he loved those things. I remarked how pleased I was and told him “why not take a bunch and give them out to your fellow colleagues.” He was so happy and gladly took 5 baguettes.

After about a week of doing this we got a call from Mike telling us that he knew what we were up to and to cease and desist. Our brilliant plan went out with a whimper.

Alan Van Tress and the Night of 87 Deliveries

After Studebaker left PedEx we soon hired Alan Van Tress as a rider and to put him on track to become a member/owner. Shortly after Alan came on we had one of the greatest, lucrative, longest and most tiring jobs to be ever taken on.

It was November and mayoral race was on between Shirley Dean and Art Jelinek. The night of the election it was clear that things were going to be close and it ended up being so tight that a runoff election was soon called. A few weeks later, on the day before Berkeley prepared for the runoff, the city offices contacted us and told us that they needed us to deliver some 87 packets to the precinct captains, with each packet containing a listing of the voters in their district. We were delighted by the news and made sure we were well-fed and ready to do it. The city then called back and said that the packets wouldn’t be ready until 4pm and needed to all be delivered by 12 midnight. I remember that we all looked at each other and said “Holy Shit!”

By the time 4 pm rolled around the city didn’t have the packets ready and it wasn’t until at least 5:30 before they had them ready to go. That meant that we had a little more than 6 hours to make 87 deliveries, but it wasn’t really until 6:30 when were able to get the packets back to my apartment and have them all organized so that we could efficiently make the deliveries to virtually every part of town.

Oh, one thing I forgot is that it started raining at about 5 pm and didn’t stop until the next day. When we all headed out to start the deliveries is when the rain started coming down like crazy. Raging rivers were flowing down the streets. We had our waterproof messenger bags, pannier and lots of plastic bags to hold the torrent back from our important documents.

So, out we went with me taking care of all of North, West and Central Berkeley, Carcia all of South Berkeley and the south hills, and Alan took the majority of the hill deliveries. Back in those days we didn’t have cell phones, so the whereabouts of any of us wouldn’t be known until we all got back to my apartment. All I can tell you is that we all had stories of riding upstream through what we all described as rapids. David and I returned to my apartment at about 11:30 pm ragged and soaked, but real happy we got the job done. Alan rolled in after midnight with stories of weary precinct captains starring him in disbelief and offering him tea and biscuits. It sure was a night I will never forget.

First Real Office

By the winter of 1994 we found ourselves in an office at the Berkeley Store Gallery Annex, which was located at the NE corner of Shattuck and Bancroft. Our entrance was on Bancroft side. There were two rooms – one just big enough to fit in our 2 bikes and the other a nice size office space. Bonnie Hughes, the art diva of Berkeley at the time, let us use the space for something like $50 a month and totally helped us incubate the business.

Bonnie put on all kinds of events at the Annex and then a diverse group of organizations began moving into the main space just outside our door. Nick Bertoni and the Tinkers Workshop moved in, a jazz performance space called Beanbenders set up in the Annex, and EcoCity Builders called the place home for a while. Also, BFBC held huge meetings there, the library held book sales, and it became an all-around amazing community center. One time I was making some marketing calls and one of the great all-time jazz saxophone players, Dewy Redman, was practicing with a stunning quartet. So much fun…

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Bike to Work Day, ERR Day: an Instagram Alleycat

Bike to Work Day is coming up on Thursday, May 8th.  BTWD is an annual event held during the spring across the United States that promotes cycling as an all-around great way to commute  to work.  There will be Energizer Stations, set up across the Bay Area to provide encouragement, free food, coffee, and schwag to bike commuters.

Coincidentally, this event provides the makings for an interesting DIY alleycat.

I don’t know if anything like this has been done before, so bear with us as we present Bike to Work Day Errday, the first Instagram Alleycat.

Bike to Work Day, ERR Day

How Does it Work?

Energizer Stations will be set up throughout the Bay Area on Bike to Work Day.  The goal of the race is to visit as many as possible.  The person(s) who visits the most Energizer Stations, wins.

Energizer Station

Click here for a map of East Bay Energizer Stations.  And here for a SF map.

How do you know who makes it to a checkpoint?

Simple: Instagram.  You must take a picture at every Energizer Station that you visit, and post it to your Instagram feed (yes, you must have an Instagram account to participate).  In order to be counted, each photo must have three things:

  1. The location
  2. Use the hashtag #btwdERRday
  3. Mention @pedxcourier (so we can tally up the results)

#btwdERRDAY

There will be literally hundreds of Energizer Stations set up across the Bay Area.  Feel free to visit as many (or as few) as you want.  Have fun with it – stop to chat with the volunteers, eat some snacks, drink hella coffee, but don’t forget to ‘Gram!

What else do I need to know?

This is a pretty casual “race.”  There is no starting place and there is no finish line.  The goal is to have FUN while celebrating your favorite mode of transit: the bicycle.

Any and all Energizer Stations from Oakland to Concord to San Francisco are valid checkpoints.  We will keep track of the race via Instagram.

Most Energizer Stations are open from 7am ’til 9am, so this will be the official race time (early bird gets the worm!!) .

There is no entry fee.

There will be an after party at Pedal Express HQ (1501 Powell St, Emeryville) from 5:30 – 7:30pm.  Come through after work and hang out with your favorite bike messengers!  We’ll fire up the grill and have a cooler or two full of beverages; we’ll also hand out spoke cards and announce the winner(s).  We’ll try and rustle up some prizes for ya too (holler at me, if you want to donate).

Emeryville Energizer Station

Anyone down for a full day of bike shenanigans won’t want to miss this.  See you on the streets!

– Dom, Nick, Savanna & Kevin (Pedal Express)

* Later on in the evening, there will be a bike film screening of Aftermass: Bicycling in a Post-Critical Mass Portland.  Film starts at 8:30 and is right down the street from us at PLACE for Sustainable Living.  For event info, click here.

Aftermass

De Fietskoerier Utrecht: “The Utrecht Bicycle Messengers”

By Dominic Lucchesi

The Netherlands

Continuing our look at Bicycle Courier Companies worldwide, this entry takes us to the Netherlands.   A country known for it’s extensive network of bicycle paths and facilities, the Netherlands appears to be a cyclist’s dream.  27% of the country’s trips are made by bicycle – this figure jumps to 59% in its cities (for context, the bike mode share in Oakland is 1.8%; in Berkeley, it’s 8.0%).  So, you can see why we’d be interested to know what life is like for a bicycle courier in that part of the globe.

Utrecht

Some time ago, I chatted with Tobias of De Fietskoerier Utrecht (The Utrecht Bicycle Messengers).  Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands.  Interestingly, due to its central location, Utrecht is an important hub for the country’s rail and road transport.   It’s also been the religious center of the Netherlands since the 8th Century.  Neat.

A super cool dude, here’s what Tobias had to say about his profession:

Who are you and where do you operate? And for how long?

We are “De Fietskoerier Utrecht” (translated as “TheUtrecht Bicycle Messengers”) and as our name says, we operate in Utrecht and around.  In January 2014 we celebrate[d] our tenth birthday.  

Can you give us an example of a typical delivery and an atypical delivery?

Difficult, we really do everything.  A lot of work to and from the chamber of commerce and the courthouse, furthermore a lot of design companies and printing companies.  A growing amount of medical deliveries, such as blood, medicines (and sometimes  even a lung).  As well, people call us to send boxes to Mexico, for now we only do the first few kilometers on bicycle…

What kind of bike(s) do you use?

Mostly fixed gear, but also regular racing bikes, single speeds, MTBs and cargo bikes (Bullitt). Also, we have a solar powered electric car for larger deliveries.

Any on-the-job challenges that you may face?

5 different messengers on the road on the same time can be a challenge to manage, however, in the end it always works out fine.

How many riders are in your crew?

We are a collective with 9 owners. Furthermore a group of about 8 freelancers help us out .

What does the future hold for the bicycle courier industry?

More work, also more work in between cities, with for example a train or car in between. 

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen: De Fietskoerier Utrecht!

Click here for a short intro movie for the De Fietskoerier Endurance Team.
"A picture of the team just after the World Championships bicycle racing in the Netherlands last year"
“A picture of the team just after the World Championships bicycle racing in the Netherlands last year”
"A picture of our solar powered electric car with messenger Gijs"
“A picture of our solar powered electric car with messenger Gijs”

Lastly, for bicycle courier service in Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville, make sure to check out the crew at Pedal Express!

Pedal Express Has a New Look!

PedEx Courier Service

You may have seen it around, but now you are officially informed. Pedal Express has a new and improved look!

David Polka

We partnered with Oakland artist David Polka to redesign our entire brand image, including our logo, website, apparel and marketing materials.

New Logo

There are many elements about David’s design that we are proud of. We wanted something with a vintage feel (after all, we are using 19th century technology to make a living), and an adaptable, timeless quality. The badge shape is perhaps a not-so-subtle nod to our beloved Oakland Raiders, but we felt it was already an iconic East Bay shape, and was perfectly suited to recall Pedal Express’s 19 year history in the area.

New Swag

Polka designed a number of different materials for us. We’ve got postcards, stickers, vinyl, stamps, the whole shabang!

Top Tube Vinyl

So keep your eyes peeled for a PedEx bike parked somewhere in Berkeley, Emeryville or Oakland! And let us know what you think with a shout out on Facebook.

A Quick Summary of Carbon Fiber (cuz we wanted to know too)

arantix_bikeframe

To put it very briefly, the material we know as “carbon fiber” is actually a mixture of long, woven threads of crystallized carbon atoms (graphite) impregnated with a plastic resin. It is sort of like dipping a piece of canvas into a bucket of glue and letting it dry. The carbon threads are only a tiny fraction of the width of a human hair, which means their are MILLIONS of them packed into very dense spaces.

carbon tubes

Depending on the weave of the sheets, carbon composites can have varying levels of tensile (stretch) strength, and modulus (stiffness). The reason that carbon fiber has become so popular in the sports and transportation industry is because of its excellent strength-to-weight ratio (higher than nearly all metal alloys) and its fabled rigidity.

layup_ExampleThe sheets are layered in different directions (like plywood) to form tubes and other rigid shapes. This is called the “layup”. Because they are stronger along the long axis of the graphite threads, the carbon sheets are usually added in at least eight layers, each one rotated in a different linear direction depending on the application of the tubing.

ti lug on cfOnce the sheets or tubes of carbon fiber are layed-up and molded into their intended shape,  they are heat-treated at temperatures well over 1,500 degrees, which increases their strength considerably. Currently, the majority of all carbon fiber in the world is manufactured by only five major companies.

Bici Bici Quick Recap

Bici Bici 2013

Zoinks!  We’ve been slammed the past few weeks and the blog-writing duties have unfortunately been a lil’ neglected.  Still, I wanted to give a quick recap of the Bici! Bici! Conference that took place over this past weekend.

Bici! Bici! is an annual conference that aims to bring together those involved in California  bicycle cooperatives through talks, presentations, skill shares and workshops.  This year, Bici! Bici! was organized and hosted by our friends over at Spokeland Bike Co-Op.

Dozens of bike-folks from across the state descended on our fair city.  A majority of the out-of-towners were from LA and had never been to Oakland before.  Yee!

Pedal Express held several workshops at our office space in Emeryville:

Workshop #1: Inspiring New Cyclists & Mechanics

20130413_105430

A roundtable discussion regarding best-practices when it comes to teaching and empowering those who have an interest in bikes, but may be new to the bike co-op scene, or cycling in general.

Workshop #2: Technology in Co-Ops

IMG_20130413_132537

A presentation about how to use technology to improve operational efficiency in bike co-ops.  Included a brief overview of popular, free software like Google Drive and LastPass.

Workshop #3: Hustling Donations 101/Fundraising Through Events

IMG_20130413_152946

A motivating presentation about how to host events and gather donations.  The moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to ask for stuff!

Workshop #4: Practicamos Espanol del Taller (Practicing Shop Spanish)

2013-04-14_12-04-47_989

A technical workshop, focusing on bike shop-talk en Espanol.

In attendance were representatives from Bicycle Co-Ops from all over the state.  Here is a partial list of those in attendance:

I had a great time at the conference.  Met a ton of new people and was fascinated to hear tales of bike culture in other parts of the state.

Perhaps my favorite Bici! Bici! moment came at the after party at the Lobot Gallery.  I noticed that the group was split up between Bay Area folks and those from LA.  In a slightly inebriated state, I pointed this out to the nearest Angeleno.  The next thing I know, I’m being wrapped up in a group hug made up of everyone in the room, spinning around, and chanting “BIKES! BIKES! BIKES! BIKES!”

– Dom

Bicycle Couriers: A Global Profession

The bicycle courier industry is not a new one.  In fact, it’s origins can be traced back to the mid 19th-Century, coinciding with the rise in popularity of early velocipedes.

1911-adamsexpress-messengers

Today, despite the rise of fax machines and email, bicycle courier companies can be found in cities and towns across the globe.  Because of their ability to avoid unexpected holdups – traffic jams, parking restrictions, tickets and fines – bicycle messengers provides a unique and dependable service that is unmatched by other forms of motorized delivery.

Pedal Express takes pride in being part of a long tradition of bicycle couriers.  The industry itself is incredibly diverse and far-reaching, and we are constantly on the lookout for new companies from which to learn from.

One of our goals for this blog space is to showcase other bicycle courier companies that we admire.  We hope that these posts will help you (the reader) better understand what it is that bicycle messengers do.

For those of us in the industry, we hope that these posts provide a bit of global context and help better connect and inspire bicycle couriers worldwide.

Pedala Bike Messengers (Quezon City, Philippines)

Pedala Bike Messengers, Inc. currently serves the people and businesses of Metro Manila.  Now, I’ve never been to the Philippines, but from what I understand, Manila is a gnarly place to ride a bike.  Whether it’s fighting for space on streets notorious for it’s traffic jams, breathing in lung-fulls of polluted air, or braving the often harsh tropical monsoon climate, the Pedala Messengers seem to ride through it all with a smile on their faces:

Pedala offers an affordable, same-day delivery service.  A one way delivery will cost you P100 (about $2.44); a roundtrip delivery goes for P200.  Need a rush delivery?  No problem, just double the price and they will add your job to the top of the queue.  Clients can place an order via phone, email or text.

Perhaps the most admirable thing about Pedala is it’s unabashed commitment to environmental and social best-practices.  While it may seem an obvious thing to do, not every bicycle courier company actively tries to promote cycling as a way to improve community health.  Pedala’s efforts to connect the dots become even more meaningful when considering that air pollution across Asia has reached epidemic levels.  Smog in Manila alone is directly linked to thousands of deaths each year.

From the Pedala website:

Pedala Bike Messengers, Inc. is a social enterprise, a business that considers three bottom lines: profit, environmental action, and social gains.

Pedala offers cost-effective, if not faster, same-day delivery courier services primarily for small and medium enterprises. The company strikes a symbiotic relationship with its clients: as Pedala earns profits for itself it saves costs, and time, for its clientele.

Pedala also believes in promoting the use of bicycles as a means to minimize the use of fuel, lower pollution levels, and thus allow for safer, cleaner air. Because it doesn’t use gasoline, Pedala is a non-polluting enterprise that doesn’t burn fossil fuels, consequently lowering its clients’ carbon footprint.

As a social objective, Pedala seeks to hire cyclists and athletes who want to train for competitions at the same time earn something for their efforts. With many athletes eager to develop physical endurance as well as promote better environmental practices like biking, Pedala’s roster of cyclists is constantly growing. Biking for Pedala has, indeed, become a badge of honor.

pedala

The Long Haul: The Heart and Soul of Pedal Express

What sets Pedal Express apart from other bike messenger companies? Well there’s a number of reasons actually.

But one of the coolest and most interesting is our cargo hauling capacity. We can (and often do) move anything up to 500 pounds with our our diverse fleet of trailers and cargo bikes. Since the mid-90’s we have relied proudly on the reliability and versatility of a machine created in Eugene, Oregon.

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This is The Long Haul. It is a purpose-built cargo hauler based off a design that originated in Europe in the 1920’s. Human Powered Machines has tweaked the geometry slightly, used stronger and lighter tubing and updated the componentry, but for the most part, this tried-and-true workhorse has been moving impressive loads all over the world for nearly a century.

Image

If you’ve been on the streets in Berkeley, Emeryville or Oakland between the hours of 9am and 5pm anytime in the last eighteen years, chances are you have seen a Pedal Express courier transporting something cool in one of our big red Long Hauls. Over the past two decades we’ve moved everything from furniture, to electronics, to massive catering orders, to publications, to coffee in them.

We’ve even bailed out a few friends who had breakdowns (Our aluminum racks easily fit a rider and their bike)!

Image

Our Long Hauls also come with optional fiberglass shells which are completely waterproof and lockable. Since we proudly operate rain or shine, we need to make sure our precious cargo is safe and dry when it arrives at its destination.

Even if we aren’t.

We lovingly refer to the white fiberglass contraptions as “eggs”. We love riding them because they make ten-year-olds smile. And they hold in the delicious smells of pizza, curry, french fries or any other foods we happen to be delivering.

Image

Over the years, many manufacturers have developed some pretty amazing cargo bikes that are designed to do the kind of things we do on our Long Hauls. But after nearly 20 years of reliable service, we just can’t think of a reason to replace these icons of Pedal Express’s long and infamous past.

Thank you Human Powered Machines. And thank you Long Haul.

Here’s to many more years of service in the East Bay!

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Partnership Through Bikes: Hot Italian and Pedal Express

As far as PedX is concerned, the bigger the order, the better!

If you have ever had the pleasure of dining at Hot Italian’s Emeryville location, then you certainly understand their intense affection for the “beautiful machine”. The ultra-modern restaurant is adorned with images of bike silhouettes on their employee uniforms, their pizza boxes, their pins, their business cards and their menus.

Frames and bikes from local companies hang on the walls. Exotic parts, classic jerseys and numerous bike magazines complete the gallery-like ambience that surround you. And if you’re there at the right time, you can watch a bike race on their projection screen while you wait for your Birra, your Insalata or your Panini.

If you’ve ever been riding through Emeryville and had the misfortune of having some mechanical difficulties, hopefully you found the tool you needed at their free, outdoor Fixit stand.

The love for bicycles at Hot Italian is obvious, and so it should come as no surprise that they choose the East Bay’s ONLY bicycle couriers to deliver their food in Emeryville!

Meet the masterminds behind Hot Italian: 

HI-Cercatore & Lepore

Who are you and what do you do?

The belief   “anything is possible” connected the two passionate, thirty-something founders of HOT ITALIAN—one from an Italian-American family of artists and the other, an artistic pizzaiolo from the Italian Riviera. Andrea Lepore’s and Fabrizio Cercatore’s mission was to build a place where pizza brings people together to celebrate Italy’s new generation of art, music, design, sport, food and wine. By combining these elements with California’s urban lifestyle, seasonal, quality ingredients, and a conscious commitment to our environment and community, HOT ITALIAN hopes to inspire, make a difference, and create better neighborhoods.

Where are you located?

Midtown Sacramento and Emeryville’s Public Market

Why do you choose to use Pedal Express?

Our first location was the first restaurant in California named a “Bicycle Friendly Business” by the League of American Bicyclists as we have bike parking for 32 bikes, host several bike-themed events and support the urban California lifestyle. We deliver by bicycle in California’s Capital and in the East Bay as it’s an easy way to incorporate this lifestyle into everything we do.

Favorite thing about living/working in the East Bay?

The culture, the people, and the other great restaurants make the East Bay a fun place to live and work. We look forward to experiencing more of it and meeting other entrepreneurs and residents and getting involved in the community.

HI-Staff

The partnership between Pedal Express and Hot Italian is a no-brainer. They love the East Bay, we love the East Bay. They love bikes, we love bikes. They love food deliveries, we love delivering food. They love pizza, we (duh) love pizza.

Hungry yet?

Pedal Express is on call Monday through Friday from 11am ’til 2pm, rain or shine, ready to bring piping hot, artisanal pizza to Emeryville homes, offices and businesses!

Who doesn't love a delicious artisanal pizza on a lovely Spring day?

Client Profile: Gorgeous & Green

This is the first entry in a series focusing on the fine folks who keep our doors open and our wheels turning: our clients.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, we’re gonna shed some light on a local florist and one of our favorite clients – Gorgeous & Green.  For more than a year now, Pedal Express has been delivering stunningly beautiful G&G flower arrangements and gifts all over the East Bay.  We love working with G&G – the only East Bay florist to offer local bicycle delivery.

Last week, shop owner Pilar Zuniga was gracious enough to answer a few of our questions and let us invade her space for a lil’ photo shoot…

Pilar & Dom clowning around at G&G
Pilar & Dom clowning around at G&G

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Pilar Zuniga, and I own Gorgeous and Green, a local and sustainable boutique that offers locally grown flower design (sustainable and organic when available), locally made and eco-friendly goods.  I have two employees, Ryan and Jessie, who help with the boutique and with flower design.  The retail boutique offers walk in services and we also offer design for events as well as local gift and flower delivery!  This is where PedEx comes in!

Where are you located?

Right now, we are at 2524 San Pablo Ave in Berkeley.  But we are moving to 2946 College Ave on February 15th!  We hope to see you at our new location.

Favorite thing about living/working in the East Bay?

I have lived in the East Bay longer than any other place.  It is not only beautiful, but the community is wonderfully diverse as well.  I want to be part of a community and that’s easier to do here than other parts of the bay.  I learned how to think responsibly when I went to Cal almost 20 years ago, and I am so thankful for the numerous other people in the Bay who think the same way.

Why do you choose to use Pedal Express?

I am always trying to figure out how to offer more sustainable and eco-friendly services at the boutique (like avoiding plastics, using recycled paper, biofuels, etc.) and bicycle delivery is the greenest method of transport available.  I value supporting local business.  I also value local cooperatives.  And, I have to say, it helps me tremendously to have a third party that I can trust to take charge of the deliveries!

From Left to Right: Ryan, Pilar, and Jessie
From Left to Right: Ryan, Pilar, and Jessie
In case you’re searching for a last minute V-Day gift for that special someone (or for yourself!), check out the Gorgeous & Green online store and place an order.  And when you do, tell them you want it delivered by bike!
For more on Gorgeous & Green, check out this recent blog post.
Shout out to The Volcano Club for taking the pictures!