Pedal Pushers

Take a Two-Wheel Tour of Alameda


Al Wright

Alameda boasts the longest swimming beach in Alameda County, a 6-mile bike path around Bay Farm Island, the state’s first protected marine area, a 25-mph speed limit, totally flat roads and some fantastic restaurants. So you’d think it would be a great spot for the kind of bike rental shop that other happy beach towns sport. But until Vanessa Laymon and her husband, Erik Johnson, set up Pedal Beach last July, neither Island residents nor Island visitors could rent a bike to go out for a spin on a sunny afternoon.

“I felt there was a need,” says Laymon, who lives in Alameda with her husband, two children and two dogs and works as an advertising copywriter by day. “We moved to an apartment on Shoreline Drive a few years ago, and we learned to love biking and walking along the beach. We had a tandem bike that we made anyone who was visiting ride around the Island. We decided it would be great to offer bike rentals to people to explore the beach or Bay Farm and then everything fell into place.”

Laymon originally had her heart set on opening in a storefront closer to the Boardsports School & Shop at the west end of Shoreline. But when that didn’t work out, she ended up operating out of a storage container at South Shore Center, right next to the McDonald’s. “It’s an awesome location,” she says. “The South Shore folks have been so welcoming and supportive, and we have very high visibility.”

Pedal Beach now offers bikes (including cruisers, tandems, cargo bikes for carrying kids and gear and Taga stroller/bikes), beach umbrellas and chairs to rent, plus sand toys, mats and T-shirts to buy. Laymon dreams of expanding the business to include selling shaved ice and renting out metal detectors and adult tricycles, as well as offering “cabana service” that might include chairs, umbrellas and cold drinks.

The business is formally open from May to October, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends when school is in session, but Wednesday to Sunday, also 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., once school lets out. People who want to rent outside of those hours are welcome to call and make a reservation.

“I like to ride bikes,” Laymon enthuses. “I’m no Lance Armstrong. I won’t wear Lycra. But I love riding along the beach on a cruiser, and I think other people do, too.”

Pedal Beach Rentals, South Shore Center (just east of McDonald’s), 510-303-8823,

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