The February day that Chad Roeder, owner and founder of Bloomington Pedal Power, began transporting food for Bloomingfoods, the weather wasn't exactly the greatest. Area schools were on a two-hour delay, and the icy roads weren't yet fully cleared and open.
Roeder sent a message saying that "Everything went great (except for the pesky hail, sleet, and rain)" - a measure of his enthusiasm for his new business.
Roeder has begun transporting baked goods, soups, salads, and sandwiches made in the Near West Bloomingfoods kitchen. They travel via pedal power six blocks east, to the original co-op - a restored carriage house "right up your alley" off Kirkwood and Dunn. At that store, the limited food prep space is used for making fresh sushi, which goes back out to the larger stores.
Ice or no ice, Bloomington Pedal Power is officially up and running, fueled by human energy. Using a maneuverable, low-to-the-ground trailer designed by himself and his father, Roeder carries insulated coolers and other containers necessary for transporting a wide variety of goods - from groceries to restaurant delivery, as well as courier, post office, bank service, and "everything else." He'll soon be delivering Bloom magazine to its drop points, and a service offering affordable recycling for downtown businesses is in the works. The best news? Besides carrying food between the Near West and Downtown Bloomingfoods stores, Roeder offers home and office delivery service to grocery customers.
How does grocery delivery work? Clients log on to the Bloomington Pedal Power website on the day before or morning of delivery, emailing a list of desired items. Chad does the shopping, guaranteeing that the items are fresh and to the customer's specifications. Payment can be made by cash, check, or online with major credit cards; for regular service, billing options are available. Clients should be available to receive the delivered items, or make other arrangements as desired. The charge for shopping and delivery is $10.00 plus 10% of the total bill, with discounted rates available for senior citizens and homebound clients ($10.00 plus 5%).
A former IU student, Roeder grew up in Indiana. He worked in the film industry in New York City (home of ubiquitous bicycle couriers) and in Hollywood, before returning to Bloomington with his wife and three young sons, eager to settle down and form a sustainable business. "People don't realize the wear-and-tear impact caused by one delivery van on city streets," Roeder explains, "not to mention the carbon emissions caused by stop-and-go deliveries. My goal is to provide clean, fast, and friendly service while promoting an alternative method of transportation." Roeder also expects the crosstown visibility of his business to help raise awareness of bike safety issues, including the need for more bike paths. He hopes the business will encourage others to consider creative ways to reduce gasoline usage, becoming more aware of the space and safety needs of pedestrians and cyclists.
At some point, he anticipates adding more riders to his team, creating good jobs for bike enthusiasts. "Bloomingfoods supports and endorses sustainability initiatives in our community," says George Huntington, general manager of the co-op. "We are glad to be able to use the services of Bloomington Pedal Power, both for our fresh food transportation needs and to encourage home grocery delivery service. This extends the range of services we can offer to our customers, in partnership with an exciting green business." So - rain, sleet and snow? It won't put a damper on the efforts of Chad Roeder, who looks forward to cycling on bright sunny days, too. The Bloomington Pedal Power delivery area is divided into three zones, bounded on the west by State Road 37, to the north by the 45/46 bypass, to the east by Smith Road, and to the south by Tapp/Country Club/Winslow/Rogers Road. You can learn more by visiting bloomingtonpedalpower.com or by calling 812-325-2777.