Is it finally becoming “the thing” to use your bicycle for more than a decoration in the garage, or just a fun thing to do now and then? Let’s explore this idea.
What does it take to use your bicycle for shopping?
1. A bicycle, any bicycle will do.
Better, is one that is easy to get on and off. One that is stable and easy to control. One with a basket or rack to carry “stuff”. Larger tires are more comfortable, especially on rough sidewalks. Tough reliable tires that won’t leave you stranded while your ice cream melts. A simple cable lock to insure that your ride will be there waiting for you when you finish shopping.
2. A trunk to carry your “stuff”. A rear mounted rack is best because the weight doesn’t affect your steering. On this rack you can mount, baskets or bags. There are folding baskets, that don’t protrude when folded, but open up to the perfect size to carry a large, paper grocery bag. You can balance the load by putting one on each side. If you already have a handlebar basket, that is just fine, don’t load it too heavy, it will affect your steering. Panniers, (a funny french word for saddle bags) These are available in a plethora of sizes and shapes. Some are water proof, just like the “dry bag” you might carry in a canoe. Most slip on an off easily so you can carry them into the store, and not use the throw away, “plastic or paper” ones. There are big ones, and small ones. They are lighter than the baskets and provide some insulation to protect your “stuff”. A customer claims that with the shoulder strap attached, she carries her pannier through the store, and that way she never buys more than she can carry on her bike.
3. A store within easy riding distance from home. Do you know that in America, most car trips are less than 3 miles? Once you try it, a 3 mile trip to the store is easy. To make the trip more enjoyable, plot a different route than you would use if you were to drive. There may be a shorter way to get where you want to go, there might be a tree lined street that would provide a more enjoyable path with less traffic that will better serve you on a bicycle. Maybe you can shop at more stores since there will be no issue with “where to park”. Think about being able to park at the door of any store you want to visit. No more cruising the parking lot for a space, just ride up to the front door, kick stand down, lock the wheels to the frame, grab your pannier and enjoy shopping. The air conditioning feels so much colder after a short bicycle ride, it reminds us of the benefit this comfort provides.
The thing that I recommend to people thinking about using their bicycle for shopping is to ,” go shopping more often and don’t buy too much at a time”. Doesn’t this make sense? It is fun, it doesn’t cost any more because you aren’t burning any gasoline, your get more exercise, and the load you have to pedal home isn’t so heavy.
What additional advantages can you think of? Some are: Save money and reduce pollution; get exercise outdoors; save time, the total time for short trips on a bicycle are actually less than driving; no aggravation with parking; see your world up close and personal; say “Hi” to a stranger; improve your health; and IT IS FUN.
source: Acme Advocate newsletter