Tag Archives: pedal express

2014 NACCC group Photo by Ben Hovland

2014 NACCC Minneapolis

One week removed from the event, here is a brief rundown of my 2014 NACCC experience…

I’ll admit, I was apprehensive about traveling to Minneapolis for the 2014 North American Cycle Courier Championship (NACCC).  I’m a bit of an introvert and the thought of being in a strange city with 100+ people that I didn’t know… well, shoot, I was nervous!  Thankfully, I wasn’t alone – Pedal Express co-owner Savanna made the journey as well. In fact, there was a nice Oakland contingent in attendance (shout out to the amazing Lauren, Molli and Heather representing FWOD).

Pedal Express is the only bicycle courier company in the East Bay Area (and we are proud of it!) but at times the job can feel rather isolating. Although there is a thriving messenger community across the Bay in San Francisco, our paths rarely cross – East Bay messengers are kind of an oddity.

[Correction: we were recently joined in the East Bay by the crew at Darling Courier – representing the island of Alameda!]

I went to NACCC primarily to network with the greater messenger community. There are a ton of people across the globe doing the exact same thing that we at PedX are doing – moving shit with bikes. I wanted to hear about other peoples’ experiences. What are some of the challenges that they face? And how can we help each other be successful during a time when large corporate entities (i.e. Google, Amazon, Postmates) are all trying to get into the delivery game?

NACCC is a unique event in that it is organized by and for messengers. The vibes were positive, and I was pleasantly surprised by how many people were already aware of Pedal Express. Folks in attendance came from all over – The Midwest (Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee) and the East Coast (NYC, Baltimore) were well represented. Canada too. SF had a significant presence as well; lots of TCB riders along with the eventual Women’s Champ, Christina Peck of Godspeed Courier. Oh yeah, there were a bunch of Aussies running around too.

One of the industry topics that was widely discussed throughout the weekend was the shift away from legal work and business-to-business delivery, and the growth of business-to-consumer deliveries. The challenges of food delivery was an especially popular topic.   I gained a lot of valuable information that can and will be applied to Pedal Express, to make PedX  even more effective in the months to come.

Throughout the course of the weekend, there was a bunch of bike racing, beer drinking and swimming in rivers (I’ll let the photos fill in the blanks). The tooobing trip on Labor Day was magical – totally one of those moments that will be forever ingrained in my memory banks. I want to say THANK YOU to the organizers for throwing one hell of event, and for showing us around your beautiful city.  I returned home with a greater sense of awareness and respect for the messenger community.

Lastly, Minneapolis is awesome. The riding was fantastic, and the scenery was gorgeous. The people were hospitable, and the food was delish. Totally my kind of town.

Over and out.

– Dominic

Feelmore Collage

Feelmore Adult Gallery + Pedal Express = Instant Gratification

By Dominic Lucchesi

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.”

To celebrate National Bike Month (and, coincidently, National Masturbation Month), deliveries during the month of May will include a free gift with online purchases.  In addition, cyclists coming into the shop will receive ten percent off their purchase.

feelmore ebx

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.

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

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!)

Bay Area Cyclists: An Afterthought

By Dominic Lucchesi

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.

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!

There were an estimated 10,000 - 15,000 visitors in attendance

Oaklavía @ Love Our Lake Day 2013

By Dominic@pedalexpress.com

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.

The hurdles WOBO faced were many.  An event like this had never happened in Oakland before.  Countless hours were spent organizing Oaklavía, with virtually no help from the City itself.  The cost of the event quickly skyrocketed and attempts at fundraising were escalated.  (I remember timidly asking my employer at the time, City CarShare, for a donation.  I was overjoyed when they graciously agreed!)

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.

So, you can understand my excitement when I heard rumors about the return of Oaklavía.  Around beautiful Lake Merritt no less, and this time with the support of Mayor Jean Quan.

Oaklavía #2 went down this past Sunday, June 9th, as part of Love Our Lake Day.  Needless to say, I had a great time.  Pedal Express was there with camera in tow.  This is what we saw:

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.

bikepedala1_ss

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