Tag Archives: bicycle delivery

Pedal Express says “Vote YES” on Measure BB

Vote YES! Measure BB

By Dominic Lucchesi

Our job at Pedal Express is to make deliveries across the East Bay by bike.  Our work week is literally spent riding around Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville, loaded down with packages of all shapes and sizes.

With so much time spent in the saddle, we get a unique perspective on the cycling infrastructure in the East Bay.  The condition of which influences our routing, and can often determine how fast we can make a delivery.  That being said, the condition of our roads leaves much to be desired.

In case y’all didn’t know, election day is next Tuesday, November 4th.  Measure BB is on the ballot and is super important for all road users in Alameda County, but it’s especially critical for cyclists, pedestrians and public transit riders.

In a nutshell, Measure BB is an increase in the transportation sales tax to fund critical improvements, including restoring cut bus service, making unprecedented investments in safer walking and biking, and repairing potholes on local roads.

With one week left to go before election day, Pedal Express is officially endorsing a “Yes” vote on Alameda County Measure BB.

We’re no good at writing about policy, but these folks are!  Click on the links below for detailed analysis of the election and Measure BB from some of our friends in the know:

Transform

Bike East Bay

Walk Oakland Bike Oakland

East Bay Express

Berkeleyside

MapLight

YES on BB

 

Nick is fast on the bike!

The 2013 Pedal Express Holiday List

By Dominic Lucchesi

The holiday season is upon us, and if you’re anything like me, you haven’t even begun your X-Mas shopping.  Not that you have to buy a damn thing.  However, if you are going to spend your hard-earned cash on gifts anyways, PedX is here to give you a few suggestions.

Full disclosure:  the following list is comprised of folks who use Pedal Express in one way or another.  Many of whom have been clients of ours for several years or even decades.  They are all local, small businesses committed to socially just and environmentally sustainable business practices.  Perhaps more importantly, they are all real friendly, hard-working folks who help make our communities more vibrant places to live.

Gorgeous & Green

2946 College Avenue, Berkeley | (510)665-7974

One of our all-time faves.  Pilar and the crew at Gorgeous & Green will blow you away with their meticulously assembled, stunning floral arrangements.  In addition to their vast selection of locally-sourced, organic flowers, you can find awesome vintage glass, jewelry, cards, terrariums and other thoughtful gifts.  Can’t make it in to the boutique?  No problem.  Place an order online or over the phone and have it delivered to that special someone by a handsome bicycle courier.

Pilar and Ryan at the shop

House Kombucha

A recent addition to the PedX family, the Oakland-based House Kombucha makes the best tasting fermented teas you’ll ever have. Hands down.  Pick up a bottle or two (or three!) from your local cafe or super market.  I highly recommend the new Smoked Pear flavor!

The House Kombucha Crew

Twig & Fig

2110 Vine Street, Berkeley | (510) 848-5599

I love making deliveries for Twig & Fig.  The owners are awesome: Suzie is the sweetest and Serge is a bicycle enthusiast who is always happy to show me all the crazy toys in his print shop.  Together, Suzie and Serge produce some of the finest paper products you’ll ever see.  Stop by their shop in North Berkeley to check out a wide selection of papers from around the world, pens, journals and more!

Serge, doing his thing

Heyday Books

One of our longest standing clients.  From their website, “Heyday is an independent, nonprofit publisher and unique cultural institution. We promote widespread awareness and celebration of California’s many cultures, landscapes, and boundary-breaking ideas. Through our well-crafted books, public events, and innovative outreach programs we are building a vibrant community of readers, writers, and thinkers.”  How cool is that?  You can purchase Heyday books on their website or at virtually any bookstore in California.

Heyday Books

City CarShare

I rarely drive, but when I do, I use City CarShare.

City CarShare

Palm Press

We love these folks.  Based out of Berkeley, Palm Press publishes a unique collection of greeting cards for all occasions.  Featuring high quality photographs from all over the world, you can find their products at several local stores.  Keep an eye out for their signature palm tree logo!

Palm Press

Stella Nonna

1407 San Pablo Ave | (510) 524-3400

We handle catering deliveries for these cats.  For years, Stella Nonna was based out of a commercial kitchen near Telegraph Ave.  This past year, they have branched out and opened a stellar new restaurant on San Pablo Ave.  A perfect place for a delicious holiday meal!

Stella Nonna!

The Missing Link Bicycle Cooperative

1988 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley | (510) 843-7471

These folks have been huge supporters of Pedal Express since day one.  Need something for your bike?  Want to buy a gift for that bike fanatic in your life?  This is the shop you want to visit.  They have a super helpful staff and are worker-owned!

For 40 years… Missing Link!

Lastly, I’ll throw in a shameless plug for Pedal Express.  I’ll spare you the Santa Claus/bike messenger analogies but do give us a buzz if you need help with your holiday deliveries.  We specialize in same-day deliveries throughout Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville and beyond!

Happy Holidays, y’all!

This is the Berkeley Mail Room

Behind the Scenes: City of Berkeley Mail Room

By Dominic Lucchesi

“The mail never stops! It just keeps coming and coming and coming, there’s never a let-up! It’s relentless! Every day it piles up more and more and more! And you gotta get it out! But the more you get it out the more it keeps coming in! ”  — Newman

Like most large companies or institutions, the City of Berkeley has a mail room.  This particular room is in the basement of 1947 Center St.  It is here that the city’s mail is received and sorted to be dispersed to the various departments and offices in Downtown Berkeley.

1947 Center St:  Pedal Express spends a lot of time here

For nearly two decades, Pedal Express has worked with the City of Berkeley to help with the distribution process.  A substantial part of our daily routes consist of picking up city mail from the mail room and delivering it to outlying departments such as the Berkeley Housing Authority, Corporation Yards, the Public Health Clinic, and the Berkeley Marina.  At each stop, we exchange incoming mail and take outgoing items to be returned to the mailroom and sorted for other departments.  In this way, the bicycle couriers of Pedal Express act as a crucial part of the City of Berkeley’s communication network.

Alan, on his way to exchange mail at the Berkeley Marina
Alan, on his way to exchange mail at the Berkeley Marina

(We provide a similar service for the City of Emeryville.  To our knowledge, Berkeley and Emeryville are the only two cities that use bicycle couriers for their internal mail distribution.) In addition to our daily delivery duties, Pedal Express is trained to run the City’s entire mailroom operation in the event that Matthew (the mailroom clerk) is sick or out of town.  It just so happens that Matthew has been on vacation for the entire month of November.

Nick, running the mailroom
Nick, running the mailroom

This month, while Pedal Express is busy moving all sorts of things across the East Bay per usual, we have also been in charge of the Berkeley mail room.  It’s an interesting job that provides us with a unique opportunity to work closely with the folks who help make the City of Berkeley function properly. Running the mail room is largely a one-person operation.  Each morning, either Nick or I will pick up the Berkeley mail from the main Post Office before heading to the mail room, ready to sort through hundreds of pieces of mail.

Hella mail.
Hella mail.

Throughout the course of the day, we will deliver mail to 40+ departments in four buildings in downtown Berkeley.  These departments include Mayor Tom Bate’s office, Finance, Parks and Recreation, Rent Board, Planning, Engineering, Revenue Collection, City Auditor,  IT, Human Resources, Police and Fire, and so on.  We have an official badge that allows us to wander the City Hall offices with impunity.  It’s great.

There is some great art work on display at City Hall. This is in the Mayor's office.
There is some great art work on display at City Hall. This is in the Mayor’s office.

Aside from mingling with the busy bees around City Hall, perhaps the most fun part of this particular job is playing with the huge metering machine.  This is what we use to apply postage to the hundreds and thousands of pieces of outgoing mail that the City sends out on the daily.

This is a metering machine.  It can weigh, seal, and affix postage to hundreds of pieces of mail at a time.
This is a metering machine. It can weigh, seal, and affix postage to hundreds of pieces of mail at a time.

Working in the mail room is a unique experience.  We get to see a side of Berkeley that most people don’t.  Still, the mail room job can be a lonely one.  We spend long stretches of time in the basement with very little human contact.  It can start to do funny things to a person.  Thus, we affectionately refer to the mail room as “The Cave.”

After a month working in The Cave, we're ready to go back to riding full time
After a month spent working in The Cave, we’re ready to go back to riding full time

With the end of the month upon us, our time working in the mail room will soon come to an end.  I suppose we’ll occasionally miss the steady pace of city work and the warm shelter of The Cave when it’s raining outside, but lemme tell ya, I cannot wait to get back in the saddle full time for Pedal Express.  See you in the streets!

Congrats to our favorite security guard, Anthony (aka Big Tone) on his Football Pool victory!
Oh, and congrats to our favorite security guard, Anthony (aka Big Tone) on his Football Pool victory!  (I’ll get you my picks tomorrow!)

Good times

#Eastbaymesslife Recap

By Dominic Lucchesi

Well, I must say, the first “big” event at Pedal Express was a definite success.  The cops weren’t called, we didn’t burn down the building, and tons of folks came out to fill our little office and the surrounding streets with an abundance of good vibes.

#Eastbaymesslife was an evening of food and drank, short films and sprints.  People gathered at the Emeryville HQ of Pedal Express to help raise money for Spokeland Bike Co-Op and the upcoming alleycat, Endless Summer of Slaughter: The Fantasy Edition. A huge THANK YOU to:

  • Hot Italian for showering us with hot pizzas
  • Chrome for throwing down a grip of awesome prizes
  • Mash SF for contributing some schwag
  • Curbside Creamery for coming through and slangin’ your delicious ice cream (congrats on the new shop!)

Lastly, thanks to all the folks who came out to show love for Pedal Express.  The outpouring of continued support from the community sure does make us feel good 🙂 Stay tuned for more events sponsored by Pedal Express, your friendly neighborhood bike couriers!

dasdasdasdsa

Vélo Courier: Porto Alegre, Brazil

By Dominic Lucchesi

Pedal Express continues our look at bicycle couriers across the globe.  Our latest installment brings us to South America where we got in touch with Alex, worker-owner at Vélo Courier out of Porto Alegre, Brazil.

A real nice dude, read on to find out what he had to say about the bike messenger bizness.  Please note, the Google translation kind of chewed up the responses in English, so I edited them a tad.  We have included a full transcript in the native Portugese at the bottom of the post!

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

My name is Alex, and I work at Vélo Courier.  I’m from Porto Alegre – Brasil.  I started working as a bike courier a year ago, after I decided to leave the office life and be happy.

Example of a typical delivery and an atypical delivery?

We usually transport envelopes, letters, small boxes, etc.  A great example of an unusual delivery, was the time I had to carry a microwave for technical assistance (in the back).

What kind of bike(s) do you use?
Generally steel frames, old bikes with fixed gear, due to low maintenance costs.
On-the-job challenges that you may face?
The main one is the hostility in traffic.  For here, unfortunately, the bike is still not well accepted in traffic. Other challenges are long distance deliveries or too heavy.
 
Number of riders/employees/owners?
6.

What does the future hold for the bicycle courier industry?
Everything, the bike will take the power back!  Unfortunately here in Brazil, the market supply consists mostly of couriers on motorcycles, the famous “moto-boys”, who are, as some would say a “necessary evil” for their violent behavior through the traffic scares a bit.
(Sorry for the english.  “Google Translate” is really why we are not good in your language. I hope you understand, hehe.)
 
Thank you for contacting!  Abraço!
Who are you and where do you operate? And for how long?
Me chamo Alex, tenho 21 anos e trabalho na Vélo Courier, em Porto Alegre – Brasil.
Comecei a trabalhar como mensageiros à cerca de dois anos, quando decidi largar um emprego medíocre e ser feliz logo de uma vez. A cooperativa onde trabalho atualmente tem apenas 6 meses de existência, trabalhei como “free-lancer” antes de fundá-la.
 
Example of a typical delivery and an atypical delivery?
Geralmente transportamos pequenos pacotes, como pequenas caixas, envelopes, cartas, cd’s, flores, etc etc.
Uma entrega atípica, no meu caso e experiência, foi o dia em que tive de transportar um aparelho de microondas para a assistência técnica. Foi muito difícil, pois a mochila era ruim e o aparelho era muito pesado e desengonçado.
 
What kind of bike(s) do you use?
Uso bikes de pinha fixa, como a grande maioria dos funcionários da nossa cooperativa. Tem menores custos de manutenção.
 
On-the-job challenges that you may face?
Pedalar por aqui já é o maior desafio, pois nosso país ainda está caminhando para aceitar a bicicleta como veículo no trânsito. O maior desafio é e sempre será sair pra trabalhar e voltar vivo pra casa.
 
Number of riders/employees/owners?
6.
What does the future hold for the bicycle courier industry?
Tudo! A bicicleta retomará o controle, pelo menos trabalho de 2 à 5hs pedalando para humanizar o trânsito e mostrar às pessoas que uma cidade melhor só depende de nós. Nossa missão, como dizemos, não é passar a vida inteira quase morrendo no trânsito para entregar pacotes de pessoas que não querem correr esse risco, não somos uma rede de fast food, estamos humanizando a cidade para que todos possam transitar em paz por ela.
Novamente, agradeço o carinho e a oportunidade!  Abraço!
Top Tube Vinyl

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.

Long Haul Flatbed

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.

Image

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!

Image

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?