Cascade Adopts and Expands Bicycle-Powered Food Bank Delivery Program
  • Pedaling Relief Project has rescued and delivered 240,000 pounds of food since May 2020
  • Expanding the project to Tacoma and other communities across Washington
  • "This is bicycling with a purpose and a heart, and with a direct goal of helping neighbors."

With a goal of using bicycles to reduce food insecurity and solve community challenges, Cascade Bicycle Club announced during its annual Bike Everywhere Breakfast today that it has made the Pedaling Relief Project one of its permanent programs. 

The Pedaling Relief Project is a mutual aid program that works with seven Seattle food banks--as well as PCC Community Markets, farmers’ markets, and community gardens--to rescue and deliver food and sanitary supplies by bicycle directly to thousands of Seattle households and Little Free Pantries. 

Formed in the early days of the pandemic, when the economic crash caused a spike in demand for food assistance, the Pedaling Relief Project (PRP) has delivered and rescued more than 120 tons (240,000 pounds) of food and supplies since last spring. More than 500 volunteers have bicycled more than 7,000 miles and served more than 4,900 households. 

Previously a grassroots initiative that operated with support from Cascade, the Pedaling Relief Project now joins the Major Taylor Project, Let’s Go, Free Group Rides, and Learn to Ride as one of Cascade’s cornerstone programs. The Pedaling Relief Project will be managed by co-founder Maxwell Burton, who has been hired as a full-time Cascade employee to oversee Pedaling Relief and its expansion.

“This is bicycling with a purpose and a heart, and with a direct goal of helping neighbors who are struggling,” says Burton, who encourages people who bike to sign up at “The Pedaling Relief Project is a way for people who bike to make a difference in their community, while also enjoying the exercise, fresh air, and camaraderie of bicycling for a good cause.”

“Everyone in the Cascade community should feel proud to be involved with this initiative,” says Board President Tamara Schmautz. “The Pedaling Relief Project represents a new chapter for Cascade Bicycle Club as we add to our bicycling advocacy, events, and education programming to find new ways for our members--and the entire bicycling community--to use their bikes for good.”

Expanding in Seattle, and Beyond

Burton is now working to expand the program. This summer, the Pedaling Relief Project will partner with Seattle farmers markets to collect donated produce. New bike delivery routes have recently been created in Seattle’s Eastlake and Capitol Hill neighborhoods, where food bank delivery volunteers previously used cars. 

Burton and Cascade staff are developing a Pedaling Relief Project “tool kit” to help individuals and organizations implement bicycle-powered food bank delivery and community service initiatives in other cities. Discussions are currently underway to initiate projects in Tacoma and Spokane, Wash. “We want to create a digital platform and smartphone app that makes it easy for people with bikes to volunteer, and for community organizers to replicate the project.” 

Using bikes instead of cars to deliver food and supplies is scalable, affordable, practical, and climate-friendly. “We’re able to get in and out of urban areas without needing to find parking. There are places a bicycle can go that a car just can’t.” By using bikes instead of cars, the project has avoided releasing nearly 4,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Food bank officials are thankful for the support in this time of economic hardship. “An overwhelming feeling of joy washes over me when I see a crew of bicyclists riding the distance to ensure our community receives delicious fresh food,” says Brian Yeager, food bank coordinator for Byrd Barr Place. “It is truly amazing to witness.”

Pedaling out to re-stock Little Free Pantries during a recent collaboration between Cascade's Major Taylor Project and Pedaling Relief Project. Photo courtesy of King County Parks. 

Read the Bicycle Retailer and Industry News feature about Pedaling Relief Project: "Seattle cargo-biking initiative fights hunger with pedal power."