Costco bulk shoppers are the same as utility cyclists: they buy groceries and schlep them homeward.
Uber Feasible Cycling Leads to Streamlined Living
However, the caveat is a purchase- laden cyclist can’t afford the temptation of buying junk food or anything superfluous: she or he has to tow it home.
The no junk pre-condition makes the lifestyle cyclist, utility and commuter cyclist, more uber efficient in clean, free transportation, fitness and living only with what they need and treasure without the frills. Especially if they are only shopping within a 10 km. radius or less.
Prep Time for Shopping by Bike Same as Finding Car Parking
Six months ago, we moved our stuff from a home to new place, just 2 blocks away. It wasn’t a big deal since there wasn’t much stuff. We did rent a small van, not a truck, to move a bed, large computer table and 4 large boxes of belongings. But the rest, was walked and also biked over by several small trips.
Moving around daily by bike, does require planning, especially for a particularily heavy or awkward, large load. But probably no more time, than cruising around in a car and trying to find a parking spot in a busy shopping neighbourhood area. It helps to live near at least a bike route that does not have much car traffic or any at all especially when you are loaded down with an extra 30-40 lbs. of groceries and household goods.
Squirreling Away Essentials Like Everyone Else
What is required, especially living in snow-prone areas of Canada, is to plan and buy perishable food when the prices and weather are right for cycling. So yes, I did load up at the farmers’ markets with veggies and fruits galore in my panniers every weekend. Threw in the pasta and cereal into my panniers (or on top, held down with bungie cords) whenever there was a sale at the store.
I half joke that I must be making a toilet tissue pack investment for the next few winter months since there are packs squirreled away in my storage areas. But my attitude is no different than the car driving shopper piling up their bulk supply from Costco.
Usually I make my heaviest grocery bike trips on weekends, when the car road traffic is quiet and less congested. This has been true for the cities of Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary where I’ve lived, biked and shopped. In all of these cities, it was possible to use bike routes for shopping that included bike lanes, dedicated paths as well as on the road for a few kilometres. Depending on where we chose to shop in any of those cities, one-way distances were from 4 to 16 km.
Of course in the winter, it was limited to under 8 km. But truly we got everything we needed. Any cycling for shopping further out, was more of a treat for ourselves. In such situations, we did sometimes use a blend of cycling and bringing bikes onto public transit trains or using the bus bike racks.
Jack has even cycled home with 4 unassembled dining room chairs, all boxed up on the bike trailer from the furniture store. It was only a 6 km. trip, partially on a busy road, then onto the bike path. But it is possible with all the right roping, bungie cords and knowing the bike route well enough in advance to maneouvre the trailing, oversized packages along. Another time, he slowly transported a pair of skis.
Bundled Cache of Bungie Cords- A Transportation Lifeline
Unlike him, what is annoying to me, is the fussiness of unraveling a bunch of bungie cords. So I keep my supply low –3. He keeps over 10 different bungie cords in his panniers –talk about seriously over prepared. But admittedly, I’ve borrowed one or two from him.
For a 98- lb. person, it’s an excellent way for me to keep fit and build some strength when we go long distance cycle-touring later, with our pannier weight on cycling vacation trips.
So I don’t worry about dabbing on my make-up and choosing the right, colour coordinated purse before I leave. Instead I make sure my keys, wallet, lock and bungie cords are stashed away in my panniers.
Cycling Infrastructure Supporting Retail Shopping – HJEH Becker
Shopping by bicycle is much more feasible when quality cycling infrastructure is available on routes to retailing areas of cities.
Quality cycling routes where cyclists are not apprehensive of passing motorists, comes first. At shopping destinations, nearby bike parking that leaves a bike and shopping already done secure, especially in front of stores not down the block, is paramount. Depending on trees and signposts for bike parking
just is not adequate. Walking half a block from parking spots to stores is beyond the catchment areas for cycling shopping. Some retailers understand marketing and how to attract cycling customers, considering that they have disposable money not spent on maintaining and operating cars. These merchants even offer bike parking inside stores. In larger shopping areas where visits to multiple of stores on a shopping trip is common, electronic, trip rental lockers or secure bike cages and corralled parking with restricted or attended access give higher level of comfort to cyclists that bicycles and shopping will still be there when one returns.
In Copenhagen, one of the large indoor-style shopping centres has bike lanes from the nearby arterial road through the internal road system to the indoor bike parking area located right adjacent to the main front entrance to the shopping complex. In Calgary, major big-box shopping areas are connected to the bike trails along the river system and from the C-Train rapid transit stations by bike paths on road right-of-ways providing relaxing and pleasant cycling to stores. Such a network allows for comfortable and pleasant shopping 15, 20, or even 30 kilometres from home.
Calgary’s winter maintenance program of its bike trails along the river system extends the cycling-shopping right through winter as bike trails are cleaned of snow with the same priority as streets and only the minus 15 to minus 30 degree C weather provides the hurdle to overcome. Combining cycling and the C-Train rapid transit system makes such shopping trips more comfortable as total cycling distance can be managed to prevailing conditions.