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:
I remember when Feelmore Adult Gallery opened in downtown Oakland a few years back. My partner and I poked our heads into the shop late one night. The welcoming attitude of the staff, and the laid-back nature of the space made me feel comfortable – generally not the first adjective most would choose to describe your average adult store. I’ve popped in a few times since then, and have enjoyed watching Feelmore become a prominent, progressive member of the local business community.
Pedal Express is proud to announce that we are partnering with Feelmore to offer local, same-day delivery of a wide variety of sex toys and products beginning May 1st. We are stoked to be working with Feelmore – a local business that’s as bike friendly as it is sex positive (very!).
“Since opening, we have allowed bikes to be parked in the store while our clients shop… With delivery, we are taking things a step further, as it is a win for everyone. Removing gear, securing the bike and packing away the helmet for a bottle of glycerin/paraben-free lube takes dedication. Feelmore wants to take the stress out of shopping.”
Nenna was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about Feelmore, bikes and East Bay living…
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Nenna and I own Feelmore Adult Gallery which is a progressive adult store. We opened February 14, 2011 with a lot of hard work. We are located at 1703 Telegraph Ave in the Uptown District of Downtown Oakland.
Your favorite thing(s) about living/working in the East Bay?
My favorite things about living/working in the East Bay is that you can find so much. From the type of work, food, people, sexual perspectives, and information…You can literally get full yet want more. But more importantly, the great majority of small businesses that make up the area. There are so many unique businesses out there that can support Feelmore’s expansion and vision. We will continue to ask our Social Network community with whom we should partner to meet their needs!
Why did you choose to work with Pedal Express?
I posted a question on Facebook that I would like to offer bike delivery for our products and someone on our timeline suggested we try Pedal Express. After doing my research, I saw that they [Pedal Express] are a cooperative and I’m potentially looking to move Feelmore towards a co-op – it just made sense.
I like the ownership mentality in my business and see the smiles and professionalism that Pedal Express has demonstrated even before our first order. This also gives Feelmore a chance to be sustainable and eco-friendly as we become more invested in our community. With Pedal Express being in business for 20-years, our clients can trust that their privacy will be protected as all packages will arrive in wrapped packaging by a company that has a quality reputation.
What kind of products does Feelmore offer?
We sell everything in the sex toy universe. Our expectation is for customers to purchase products that they need in a hurry, or don’t have access to public transportation, or simply would like to support keeping their car off the road.
Why is it important for you to operate a bike friendly business?
Feelmore has been bike friendly since day one. Oakland is steadily getting up to speed on what the community needs, but a huge need for many cyclists are bike racks. As we did not have any in front of our store, we let people know they were able to bring their bikes in for safety. In fact, I want to make sure all of our future expansions are also bike friendly. In the past, we partnered with a local bike shop on a workshop entitled: ‘Bike Safety for Sex Workers’ as a way to teach bike safety for sex workers that are using their bikes to get to and from appointments. There is more than one way for Feelmore to interact with the biking community as a cooperative component.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
“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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
Disclaimer: The following is an admittedly emotional and reactionary rant. Sorry for all the doom and gloom, but I had to vent. I swear, I’ll be back to my usual, chipper self in the morning. Continue reading at your own peril.
The news that a cyclist was struck and killed by a truck at 6th and Folsom in San Francisco this morning really hit me in the gut.
I have been working on my bicycle in the Bay Area for roughly six years now (yes, I get paid to ride my bike). Four of those years was spent riding primarily in San Francisco. I’ve spent the last two as a worker-owner at Pedal Express, a small bicycle courier company operating in Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville.
I do not own a car. This means that even when I’m not working, I am riding my bike. To the store to pick up groceries; to the bar to grab drinks with the homies; even riding to visit my family in East Oakland and San Leandro. What this experience has provided me with is a unique, street-level view of life in the Bay Area.
I notice little changes in the streetscape that others may not see. I can tell when I’m leaving Emeryville and entering Oakland by the drop in quality of the street pavement. For years and months I waited in agony while construction crews worked to complete a short section of the Bay Trail at the Berkeley Marina. I’ve seen potholes come and go and then come back again…
At the same time, I’ve watched the bicycle infrastructure grow in San Francisco, greatly exceeding anything that we have in the East Bay (colored pavement, protected bike lanes, bike traffic signals, etc).
And if San Francisco represents the most bike-friendly city in the Bay, what does that make Berkeley or Oakland? While SF is busy transforming Market Street, efforts to add safe bike lanes on Tunnel Rd are in serious jeopardy because the neighbors don’t want to give up a few on-street parking spots. On 40th St, attempts to add bike lanes were nixed in favor of adding little sharrows and a green strip of paint DOWN THE MIDDLE OF A TRAVEL LANE. And nobody really seems to know about it.
Despite all the hype and political sweet talk, I can’t help but feel that cyclists are a complete afterthought both locally and nationally. Me and all of my bike-riding friends are one right turn away from being struck from existence. And if that happens, regardless of the circumstances, the internet will be buzzing with comments like this:
From my experience commuting to work on a bike is that many riders I see need a basic bike safety course. They appear to create hazards where one shouldn’t exist usually out of impatience.
Ugh. I swear, it’s almost enough to make a guy give up the bike messenger biz in favor of a desk job and a nice, safe, gas-guzzling Hummer.
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.
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!
I joined the Walk Oakland Bike Oakland (WOBO) Board of Directors in January 2009. At the time, countries across the nation were embracing the “open-street” event known as Ciclovía, pioneered years ago in Bogotá, Columbia.
Across the Bay, San Francisco had launched it’s own car-free streets event, Sunday Streets. With so many scenic locales and vibrant neighborhoods, organizers within local bicycle/pedestrian advocacy circles began to wonder: When would Oakland join the burgeoning Open-Streets Movement?
I remember early WOBO meetings in which we discussed making this kind of event a reality. We pulled out maps and excitedly traced out the route that our imaginary event would follow. And that’s basically as far as it went until a year or so later. By then, we had Executive Director, Kassie Rohrbach and organizer extraordinaire, Karen Hester to help bring what would would eventually be called Oaklavía to life.
Along the way, many things changed from the original plan. At the beginning, there were two events planned: an Oaklavía in Downtown Oakland in the Summer, followed by another in the fall, this time in the Fruitvale District. (We even had posters printed and distributed promoting both events.) As the price tag continued to grow, we were forced to scrap the Fruitvale event and focus solely on Downtown Oakland if this thing had any chance in hell of happening.
On June 27th, 2010, Oaklavía did happen and it was a great success. Thousands filled the streets to walk, ride, skate and dance. Reclusive friends emerged from their San Francisco cocoons to hang out with me in Downtown Oakland for a change. It was beautiful. That being said, I never thought it would happen again.
You may have seen it around, but now you are officially informed. Pedal Express has a new and improved look!
We partnered with Oakland artist David Polka to redesign our entire brand image, including our logo, website, apparel and marketing materials.
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.
Polka designed a number of different materials for us. We’ve got postcards, stickers, vinyl, stamps, the whole shabang!
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
Once 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.
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.
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, 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.
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.