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Frequently asked questions


  1. What is Pedal People?
  2. What kind of a truck is that?
  3. What kinds of things have you hauled?
  4. What do you do in the wintertime?
  5. Will you come talk to my group?


  1. How should I separate & put out my trash & recycling?
  2. How does your pricing work?
  3. How do you handle billing?
  4. When will you come by?
  5. What are your policies on canceling pickups?
  6. Do you ever have to postpone a pickup?
  7. Service guarantee and referral program
hauling hay
(photo by Kristen Wilmer)

general questions

1. What is Pedal People?

Pedal People Cooperative Inc. is a worker-owned human-powered delivery and hauling service for items under 300 pounds in Northampton, Massachusetts, USA. It was started in December 2002 by Ruthy Woodring and Alex Jarrett. We are now an incorporated cooperative business with 23 active workers.

2. What kind of a truck is that?

We now have 17 bike trailers in our fleet. Most are eight-foot long Bikes At Work bicycle trailers with a hitch that attaches to the rear chainstay. The bed is 19" wide and the trailer has a capacity of 300 pounds. We also have 64-inch long trailers, including an extra wide one we use for picking up the downtown trash. For pictures and more information, see the Bikes At Work web site. Two trailers are ones that we've built based on Aaron Wieler's Community Bike Cart Design.

3. What kinds of things have you hauled on the trailer?

Besides recycling, trash & compost, we've hauled groceries, bicycles, couches, washers/dryers, futons, tables, computers, cats, friends, laundry, a king-size bed, lumber, windows, memorial stones, refrigerators, solar panels, a 100 square foot greenhouse, CSA shares, trees stumps and trunks, sand and leaves.

4. What do you do in the wintertime?

Keep riding! We have warm mittens, face masks and boots, and studded tires if need be. Over the last few years we've figured out what to wear to be comfortable in almost any weather. See our gear tips page for more details.

5. Will you come talk to my group?

We are in business not just to make a living, but to be a living model of a different way to do things in a car- and profit-centric culture. We like to share how and why we do what we do. We are generally available to go to schools, fairs, conferences, etc., that are within biking distance of Northampton. We ask for a sliding scale contribution of $0 to $500 - whatever your organization can afford. We are potentially available for more distant gatherings, but need help covering travel expenses.

recycling/trash questions

1. How should I separate & put out my trash & recycling?

We accept several different kinds of items, which must be separated from each other.

  1. Trash: Must be in closed bags. If you have additional trash beyond your service level, we will take it if we have room, or you make a prior arrangement. Cost is $2.50 per 10 gallons. Max. weight limit per bag is 30 lbs. Recycling limit without prior arrangement is four 14-gallon tubs for weekly service, three for biweekly and monthly service.

  2. Paper: Must be clean and dry. Can be in bins or open bags. Flatten all boxes.
    • YES: Clean papers, shredded paper, envelopes with windows, greeting cards and wrapping paper (no foils or metallics), paper bags, cardboard, paperbacks and phonebooks with covers, paper egg cartons, clean pizza boxes (turn inside out). Paperclips, staples and metal spirals are ok.
    • NO: Waxed cardboard, waxed paper, greasy pizza boxes, soda/beer holders or plastic bags.

  3. Containers: Can be in bins or open bags. Empty and rinse all containers. Flatten if possible.
    • YES: Metal cans, foil, milk and juice cartons, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles and jars, tubs and jugs, clear plastic clamshells. Plastic caps are accepted if attached to their container.
    • NO: Molded plastic (ex: plastic take-out trays), plastic or styrofoam egg cartons, plastic cups, tops, or utensils, straws, dishes, Pyrex, styrofoam, plastic bags, plastic hangers, flower pots/trays, CDs, containers over 2 gallons, broken or other glass such as light bulbs, window or auto glass, motor oil or other hazardous product containers.

  4. Compost: This is an optional service that's included with trash pickup. Put in a closed container lined with a paper bag, newspaper, or a certified compostable plastic bag such as BioBags. Please clean your container regularly. Our composting program does not deal with yard waste - contact us for special arrangements.

    All plans includes up to 8 gallons of compost per pickup. Extra is $0.25 per pound if we have room (free if you have trash pickup and haven't reached the maximum trash weight of your plan). For example, if you have a 30 gallon trash plan, and you put out 20 gallons or pounds of trash, 10 additional pounds of compost would be at no charge.

      Food waste:
    • Meat, chicken, bones, fish, shellfish, eggs & eggshells
    • Fruits & vegetables, peels & pits, nuts & shells
    • Bread, rice, pasta, dough & baked goods
    • Dairy including cheese & butter
    • Spoiled or moldy food (no liquids)
    • Tea (loose & bagged), coffee grounds & filters
    • Anything that is (or was) edible

      Non-recyclable paper and cardboard:
    • Paper egg cartons
    • Paper napkins, paper towels
    • Paper hot drink holders
    • Paper bags, flour/sugar bags
    • Paper to-go containers (no plastic lining or wire)
    • Food-soiled waxed paper, paper board and cardboard
    • Food-soiled portion of pizza boxes (the soiled portion can be composted, but all clean cardboard should be recycling)
    • Paper plates, paper cups (no Styrofoam, plastic lids or straws)
    • Small wooden fruit crates (no wire)
    • Wooden chopsticks, skewers, toothpicks

  5. Other items: (separated)
    • Clothes, textiles and shoes for donation - must be in closed bags and marked as a donation
    • Scrap metal - small items. Heavy items or large quantities by arrangement only and for an extra charge.
    • Fluorescent bulbs and tubes - must be carefully packaged and labeled. There may be a charge for large quantities.
    • Christmas trees - for a $15 to $25 extra charge, depending on size
    • Leaves & weeds - by arrangement only, for $2 per 10 gallons

2. How does your pricing work?

Please see our recycling & trash page for pricing details.

3. How do you handle billing?

We bill in advance, in 3 or 6-month periods. For the first pickup, we'll start right away, and you'll have 30 days to pay. Our standard prices are for single-family households. Additional trash charges are added to the next bill.

4. When will you come by?

Everything must be out by 8 a.m. on your pickup day. Trash & recyclables will be picked up anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

5. What are your policies on canceling pickups?

Due to the extra administrative work in suspending and resuming recycling/trash pickups, no credit is given for canceling a single pickup. Partial credit (85%) is given for canceling pickups for less than a month. Full credit is given for canceling a month or more. We do appreciate knowing if you don't need a single pickup, so that we don't have to leave you a note or follow up by e-mail.

6. Do you ever have to postpone a pickup?

In the event of a major storm on your pickup day, we'll call or e-mail you to inform you of a postponement as soon as we know. On average, we postpone two times per winter season. If your pickup day falls on the following holidays, it will be postponed one day: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas. In some cases we might contact you to let you know of a different delay arrangement.

7. Service guarantee and referral program

If at any time you are unsatisfied with Pedal People's service, we will be happy to refund the remaining unused portion of your bill.

Refer any regular recycling & trash customer and you'll get a $20 credit.