29 November 2017 Lowdown | Issue 20 Dec/Jan

Richa Bhalla: ‘Everything is reversible, so you can’t really make any mistakes’

Courier meets the founder of Pedals, a cycle-only courier service, which been through the Ordnance Survey’s Geovation incubator.

Sum up what you do in a sentence.

We give cyclists the opportunity to monetise their commute.

Why did you decide to venture into this?
Couriers are notoriously overworked, underpaid and often badly treated. I decided that there had to be a better way for cyclists to make money doing something they love.

What would you go big on if you became PM?
Cycling! The air we breathe in London is shortening our lives and it’s definitely time we do something about it.

What would you outlaw?
Overpriced salad shops. You can do it yourself at home.

What’s the wisest thing someone’s told you?
Everything is reversible, so you can’t really make any mistakes.

What’s the best ever invention?
A thermos. I drink hot water all day long and would end up with cups going cold as I’d forget about them. Now my insulated water bottle goes everywhere with me. I’ve been told I look like I’m always going on a school trip with that and my rucksack.

Does modern capitalism work?
Sometimes. And it does in some countries.

When/where would you like to go in our time machine?
To the Inca Empire. I visited Peru last year and I was absolutely fascinated by the whole culture at that time. Back then people were more connected to the Earth; they took care of their surroundings and took responsibility.

Who would be your three dream dinner guests?
Sadiq Khan, to talk about the state of pollution in London and what Pedals can do to help. Jamie Oliver, because I love cooking and the healthy school dinners movement was a job well done. Michelle Obama, because she is for sure going to be the first female president of the US.

If we hit ‘most listened to’ on your music, what would come up?
Some form of 90s R&B.

If you weren’t running this business, which one would you like to take charge of?
A restaurant. Preferably some kind of taco and tequila truck. Managing a restaurant has to be one of the toughest jobs of all time. I’ve always enjoyed throwing myself in the deep end and this would fit that bill.

How do you relax?
Every weekend I get out of London to get some fresh air. Last year I joined the National Trust – it makes searching for new places to explore much, much easier. I try and get out early on a Saturday morning and spend the whole day out with a picnic.

Who’s your hero?
My dad. He has made it possible for all of my dreams to come true.

What superpower do you wish you had?
Flying. What a fun stress buster.

What’s your death row meal/ restaurant?
Ba Shan in Covent Garden. Spicy Chinese food is just the best.

Do you have any regrets?
I wish I had taken PE more seriously. I used to avoid it like the plague, but now I absolutely love being active. I think group sports teach you a lot about how to work as part of a team and to be a leader. I never used to pay that much attention, but there’s definitely something to be said for people that were highly involved in sport growing up and how they interact in a work environment.