Shopping by bike

Every day an increasing number of Queenslanders take up bike riding. We ride our bikes for fun, for transport, for fitness. Most people start riding a bicycle for recreation and fitness reasons. And many people move on to riding a bicycle to school or work.

But there’s no reason to stop there. The bicycle is certainly a humble vehicle, but it’s capable of carrying all sorts of loads.

Take your bike shopping! There are lots of ways to increase the amount of activity in your daily life, but shopping by bike is one of the most beneficial … short trips by car are an environmental disaster, but short trips on your bike give you some exercise while you keep the air clean in your local area.

Here are some ideas and ways you can go about it:

Carry the load on your bike, not on yourself. 
A wire basket is the best accessory you can give your utility bike. The bike you ride to and from work and shops will serve its purpose better if you can carry a variety of items, large and small. And a basket is the simplest way to do that. It can be attached to the handlebars easily if you have a flat handlebar. It can be attached to a front rack (in the hipster bike shops these days its called a “porteur” rack). Or your basket can be attached to a rear rack. Just be aware if you are attaching a big basket to a rear rack that it might make it more difficult to swing your leg over the bike as you mount and dismount.

A good wire basket will swallow up a couple of shopping bags, at least a “dinner party for eight”-worth of shopping. Expect to pay $30-$50 at your local bike shop for a sturdy basket that attaches securely to your bike.

Panniers are another great way to add carrying capacity to your bike. They usually sit lower on your bike, attaching to the side of a front or rear rack. It’s not as easy to distribute your shopping amongst panniers, but they do have a couple of advantages over the basket. Panniers provide a more waterproof space for your stuff, and as the weight is lower they have less negative effect on how the bike rides when loaded. Panniers cover a huge price range … you can find them on eBay as cheap as $40 a pair, but good ones will start at $80 and go up from there. Looks for brands such as Tioga and Topeak for value, and Vaude, Ortleib and Deuter in the higher price/quality end.

Shop a little bit, often
The flexibility of travelling by bicycle is a big part of its charm. But although it’s super easy to jump on your bike to get down to the local shops, you might find that you need to shop more often when shopping by bike. That’s good if the freshness of your food is important to you. It also means that you might be able to cut down on pantry, fridge and freezer storage in your kitchen.

Multi-purpose trips are the way to go
So your everyday bike is all equipped to take you wherever go each day. It has good quality lights, so it doesn’t matter if you will be getting home after dark. In Queensland, it’s rarely too cold to ride at night, in fact for much of the year riding in the evening is very pleasant. So detour past the shops on your way home from work, and pick up that extra ingredient that is going to elevate your dinner to Masterchef status. Now there’s no reason not be able to say “Oh yes, its the kaffir lime leave that give the curry that extra depth of flavour”.

Get your staple foods delivered every week, and bike-shop for the special items
Home delivery is common these days, with very few households finding the time to shop during work days. Coles and Woolworths and Aussie Farmers Direct will deliver to your door, as will more organic locally based options such as Food Connect. If the bulk of your shopping is already done, then picking up the extra items by bicycle will be a snap.

Going all out? You need a cargo bike!
Some people decide that they can go totally car-free, and at BQ we totally applaud that concept. You might not be aware of what you can haul on a cargo bike, but let us inform you … you can basically move house with the right bicycle. Seattle-based bicycle activist Elly Blue has a list of Eight Things You Can Carry By Bicycle But Probably Think You Can’t. But to do that, you will need a cargo bike. The Dutch cargo bike is a market leader if you want to carry a lot of stuff, or up to three infants, but there are lower cost cargo options, such as the Ortre Cinco 5.

E-bikes carry your shopping effortlessly
Pedalecs or e-bikes are a brilliant way to shop on your bike. Never be worried about carrying so much shopping that you won’t be able to pedal up that last hill to your home. Instead, just grab that extra lamb roast and toss in the trolley because the power-assisted pedalling will get you home every time. All the good quality pedalecs on sale in Australia these days are designed around carrying loads. They make commuting and shopping effortless, and every home should have one.

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