Shopping by Bike: Tips and Tricks for the Commuter Cyclist

Easily attach a pannier or even DIY, impromptu gear to haul everyday cargo with a clear environmental conscience.

| January 11, 2013

Bike culture is exploding in cities across the world. Whether people are riding folding bikes to the commuter train, slipping through traffic on streamlined single-speeds, or carrying children and groceries on their cargo bikes, bicycles are making urban life more dynamic and enjoyable. Carrying cargo — following shopping trips, or just as part of the normal commute — on most bikes can be a challenge, but it’s far from impossible. In this excerpt from On Bicycles: 50 Ways the New Bike Culture Can Change Your Life (New World Library, 2012), cycling enthusiast Denise Wrathall gives great tips on shopping by bike and hauling items with just a little bit of planning.  

Every cycling enthusiast has a “big fish” story. For urban cyclists, it’s sometimes about the weirdest or biggest thing we’ve carried by bike: furniture, pets, toilet augers. Before you bungee your new armchair to your bike, here are a few basics to get you started.

Shopping by bike is the hippest way to shop, hands down. We shop by bike because it’s faster than walking. We shop as we commute. It’s easier to carry things by bike than on the bus. We exercise as we shop. It costs nothing. It reduces our carbon footprint. Parking is right at the door. It’s easy to make several stops. It soothes our environmental conscience.

Why, then, do so many shy away from shopping by bike?

Stowing and hauling all that stuff can be a bit intimidating. And yet there are many options. Here we look at all the ways to shop using a conventional bicycle.


Without special accessories, you can shop with a backpack. It’s great for small loads, and several packs on the market are designed specifically for cyclists. A pack makes it easy to carry your purchases off the bike, and many have a strap or pocket to stow your helmet. The only downside is that cycling with a backpack isn’t as comfortable. Your back gets sweaty, and the load shifts around as you ride. Still, a backpack is a great starting option, because you might not need to buy anything new to start shopping by bike.

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