Bike Errand Challenge: How to Carry Anything You Want Via Bike

erin potter bikearlington
Erin Potter Tweet Us @BikeArlington@BikeArlington May 28, 2015

Erin Potter is the former Program Manager for BikeArlington.

Facebook Tweet us @BikeArlington

Last year, we challenged you to send us photos of yourself commuting to work by bike. This year, the challenge is to run an errand by bike, carry stuff home and then send us photographic proof of your awesomeness. 

Send us a photo of you and your bike that shows how you carry stuff home from the grocery store, the library, the hardware store or any other errand on your list. By basket, backpack, trailer, Capital Bikeshare front rack or some other nifty cargo solution, big or small, we want to see it!  

AND thanks to a generous donation from Trek Bikes, we have a nifty set of remote controlled bike lights (retail value $300!) that we’re going to raffle off to a lucky winner, and we’ll probably have some other fun giveaways too. So get riding, carrying and send us a photo at by Friday, June 12th!

Our Facebook gallery has a couple examples to get you thinking. And in case you’re curious about how to get started or about how to level-up your bike haulin’ knowledge, we put together a little primer:

Small Loads (one – two grocery bags)

small bags

Starting with what you have is always a good bet—and you’ve likely already got a backpack in your closet. A large backpack or messenger bag will handily hold a grocery bag worth of goodies from an impromptu stop at the store on the way home.

Carrying that weight on your shoulders and neck can be uncomfortable for some folks—plus backpacks can create a less-than-fun “sweaty back” situation in the hotter months. So there are a bunch of other carrying solutions to explore!

Other easy options for cargo are to install a front or rear rack on your bike. From there, you can attach a basket or milk crate. Some racks even have built-in, collapsible metal baskets. Baskets are nice because you can drop whatever bag you have right in–whether that’s a hand bag or a shopping bag.

It’s good to have a method for keeping things in the crate or basket as your bike goes over bumps. Reusable grocery bags that close or tie work well– or simply a few bungee cords across the top.

Medium Loads (two – three grocery bags or less)

If you’ve got a large milk crate or a very large bag, you’ll likely be able to manage two grocery bags side by side.

If you’re willing to invest a little bit of money, there are an awesome variety of bike-specific bags now available in the category of “pannier”—which is a fancy word for bike saddle bags. Basically, the bike is carrying the weight for you (Thanks, bike!). There are waterproof sporty versions as well as ones that look like an everyday briefcase or shopping bag. They’re great at keeping the weight off your body and can help heavier loads be more balanced and easier to bike home.

Large Loads (three grocery bags and beyond!)

You can combine a front AND rear rack for double carrying capacity, using the same strategies for small and medium loads. You’ll just want to start slowing when you roll out fully-loaded, making sure your bike is well-balanced.

There are also an ever-changing array of large cargo hauling solutions. These are great if you find yourself moving a lot of things by bike quite often, and certainly enable a car-light lifestyle. The choices we talk about here bump up in price significantly, but can be worth the investment.

One we like a lot here at BikeArlington is the Burley Travoy, which attaches and detaches easily and—major perk—acts like a normal grocery cart when not connected to the bike.

There are also quite a few options for trailers, including flat-beds and box trailers. Flatbeds mean you can move long and wide things, and a box trailer means you have to worry less about securing items to the trailer.

Cargo bikes are another option that we’re seeing more people flock to, and they can be especially great for families. Brands like Xtracycle and Yuba make bikes specially designed to carry a lot of weight—and some even come with a little extra power thanks to a small electric motor. There are also bakefiets or “box bikes” which, true to their name, have a large box in front of the rider, into which you can fit just about anything.

Some hints:

  • Bungees are the cargo-carrying bike rider’s best friend. A few of these will enable you to carry way more things than you thought possible.
  • Your handlebars help you steer, so hanging a bag with a fair amount of weight across your bars can throw of your balance. Better to store it in your backpack or crate!
  • All the cargo gear you buy or acquire for your bike will be rated for weight, so keep that in mind while loading up your shopping cart.
  • A small reusable shopping bag with long straps can double as makeshift backpack, so keeping one on hand will have you ready for any impromptu shopping trips.

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