How to Shop by Bike during Shelter-in-Place

I open my pantry; my shelves are sparse and it’s time to resupply. I’ve been cooking every meal at home since the shelter in place started, so I’ve been going through supplies quicker than normal (Long live Taco Tuesday!). I reach up to grab a few reusable canvas bags, a face mask, and head out the door, my mission: the grocery store.

My typical cadence for shopping is every couple of days, weaving it into my work commute most of the time. Frequent, smaller trips lend themselves well to my lifestyle – I bike most places. In the era of COVID-19, it’s strongly encouraged to shop as infrequently as you can, in order to limit trips, exposure, and the spread of the virus.

Loading up with a week or two’s worth of groceries is a different project. Instead of one modest bag, I’m looking at three or four, which means more weight and more bulk. That kind of volume can start tipping the scales of thought away from the bike and toward the car—you can schlep ten bags that way if you want and it won’t even affect your gas mileage. But between my need for movement and fresh air after being inside all day, and my love of a good challenge, I grab my helmet instead of my car keys.

If you’re going to shop for groceries by bike, here are some tips and scenarios to think about:

  1. Bike parking at the store: It’s important to have good bike parking so that (a) you can shop peacefully, not worrying about your bike getting stolen, and (b) you can avoid arranging your groceries on your bike in the middle of the sidewalk.


  1. Carrying system: Some minimalists really like to test their abilities, stuffing their pockets and carrying the rest in hand for the short jaunt back from the store. We recommend something like a backpack or a rear rack and panniers—your bike is way better at carrying weight than your back—like the ones below.


  1. Buying in bulk. If it’s toilet paper and laundry detergent resupply day, you’ll have to get creative.


  1. Skip the eggs. Planning to make a quiche for the neighborhood? I commend you, but maybe skip carrying five dozen eggs by bike.


There are limits to what you can do on a bike-powered grocery run—although I’m still pushing the envelope. So give some thought to what you’re going to get, and experiment! Start small and work your way up.

Romaine calm, carrot on.