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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 04-30-08, 08:28 AM   #1
YULitle
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Grocery Situation

Currently, I own two bikes, a nice road bike that I take on charity rides and the like, which is more for speed and fitness. I also own an old Trek 1000 (downtube shifters and everything) that I wouldn't mind putting a rack on. I live about 3 miles from the grocery store. I own two square open top, removable panniers for the rack. So, I've been considering using my bike, or something new, for grocery shopping. I'm going to try it today, to see if the panniers are enough. I have a feeling that they won't be for my typical hauls. So, I have been kicking around a couple options. I could either increase the frequency in which I visit the grocery store, given the limited pannier space. Or, get a trailer of some sort. I don't plan on living in the middle of no where forever. I belong in a city. So, I would like to know if a cargo trailer, either the one or two wheeled variety, is going to work in a city setting, as well. Thanks in advance for any wisdom.
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Old 04-30-08, 09:09 AM   #2
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I have a trailer frame for my Bike Friday that I am going to mount a container on for just that purpose. I'll let you know how it works out for me.
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Old 04-30-08, 09:12 AM   #3
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....So, I would like to know if a cargo trailer, either the one or two wheeled variety, is going to work in a city setting, as well. Thanks in advance for any wisdom.
Just a note: if you want to do this cheaply, then find yourself a used child trailer. They are far more common than the cargo varieties and turn up used more often.

Also--it has been noted elsewhere that cars are more likely to allow you more room if they see you are pulling a kiddy trailer and think there's a kid inside instead of a sack of potatoes.
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Old 04-30-08, 09:33 AM   #4
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A "Bicycle Evolution Trailer" shopper model has worked well for me. Real easy to take on and off the bike.

http://www.siteonthefly.com/bikerev/pg3.cfm
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Old 04-30-08, 10:45 AM   #5
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I went the greater frequency route, using open-top grocery panniers. I shop, on average, every four days.

I have stores two miles one way and three miles the other. If I don't stop on the way home from work , it's just ten minutes to the store. I can't see spending hundreds of dollars on a trailer (plus the hassle of storing it in my apartment) to ride 20 minutes less a week.

BTW, I've found that using the handbaskets at the store instead of a shopping cart, I don't buy more than I can haul. I fill the handbasket and whatever fits in my other hand (gallon of milk, two loaves of bread, sack of potatoes or oranges) and it fits just right in the panniers.
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Old 04-30-08, 12:39 PM   #6
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I can't see spending hundreds of dollars on a trailer (plus the hassle of storing it in my apartment) to ride 20 minutes less a week.
I spent $60 on my kiddie trailer and it folds up to fit underneath my bed. I use it for big grocery stops, going to the hardware store, garage sale shopping, etc. I've carried more than a hundred of pounds in it for around 10 miles and the handling was much nicer than even just 20 lbs in my panniers.
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Old 04-30-08, 01:35 PM   #7
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Thanks guys. I tried it today and I think I may need a trailer. I'm still not sure: gotta run it by the wife. What I did though, re: tsl's comment, is take off the pannier and place them in my cart. While being as conscious as I could be about weight I placed all of my items into the open panniers as I shopped so that I'd know I had the space, at least. Then a spot check for weight before I checked out was good. I just didn't get as much as I thought I would. And I may not be able to make it down there 4 days a week. We'll see. Thanks for the responses guys/gals! And thanks for the link derail, that one eluded me in my search last night.
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Old 04-30-08, 01:57 PM   #8
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I've got a huge Bikes at Work trailer, but I do my grocery getting with a backpack and a pletcher-style rack on the back of my commuter bike. I shop every 2-3 days on the way back from work. But then, I live alone.
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Old 04-30-08, 03:56 PM   #9
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I shop about once every week and a half. I only feed myself, and I probably eat out 2 meals a week.

I have a store within 1 mile (that I don't really like), 3.5 miles, and 6 miles.

I generally just use one of the hand baskets at the store, and can fit all of that into my backpack. However I also have a cargo trailer (converted kiddie trailer) that I use sometimes. The trailer makes the ride considerably slower and is more of a hassle to deal with. Plus I usually end up buying way more than I actually need if I take it, so the majority of the time I just use my backpack.
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Old 04-30-08, 04:47 PM   #10
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I have a couple of the reusable grocery bags. We pretty much buy the same stuff every week, so I know what fits and what doesn't. I have a dedicated grocery getter. I use the Wald 582 folding baskets on the rear and a Wald 933 on the front. The store is only about 1.5 miles so if I have to make an extra trip it isn't a big deal.

BTW the picture is staged...I couldn't find the camera after my normal grocery run.

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Old 04-30-08, 05:22 PM   #11
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I've found that using the handbaskets at the store instead of a shopping cart, I don't buy more than I can haul. I fill the handbasket and whatever fits in my other hand (gallon of milk, two loaves of bread, sack of potatoes or oranges) and it fits just right in the panniers.
Figuring out what will fit in a pannier is an art. I put all panniers(and whatever else I might have..) and use the portion of the cart that holds the kiddies for groceries. I know when it's filled up that I'm nearing the limit. I normally use two panniers (40L total) and I hand them to the clerk to fill up. He/she credits me $.10 for the bags.

I figure if I make a mistake, I can always ask them to take the excess back. Although it hasn't happened yet. I have had to carry a loaf of bread or something light in a plastic bag (dangling off the handlebars...)
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Old 04-30-08, 06:15 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Doug5150 View Post
Just a note: if you want to do this cheaply, then find yourself a used child trailer. They are far more common than the cargo varieties and turn up used more often.

Also--it has been noted elsewhere that cars are more likely to allow you more room if they see you are pulling a kiddy trailer and think there's a kid inside instead of a sack of potatoes.
~
+1

I use the trailer to haul groceries and it holds a lot. I also use it to haul the dog to the river park. I get a wide berth from behind when riding with the trailer. And some dude in a Ford F-150 pulling out of the park, saw the dog sitting in the trailer and said "Holy **** that's cool". Of course he probably proceeded to run down the next cyclist sans trailer, but I digress..
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Old 04-30-08, 06:29 PM   #13
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When I was living with my parents (family of 4), we used my trailer to go to the grocery store, 2 km away. I have the old model of Bikes At Work, the 48".

Now I live in Montréal, and I have more places to get fresh food than I can count on. I have 3 butchers, a bakery (hmm, fresh bread!), a cheese and nuts shop and a full-fledged grocery store within 800m. I am also at walking distance of what they call the largest outdoors market in north-america (no idea if it's true, but it's huge) where I can find whatever vegetable and fruit imaginable. And around that market are more specialty shops, fishery, butchers, bakeries, vegetable shops, etc. Kind of a dream for a food lover like me.

I do my groceries by foot with my flatmate using the massive bags they sell at Costco (where he works). I also go there by bike sometimes, on the way back from work, when I want to do something special.
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Old 04-30-08, 06:41 PM   #14
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I Love my Nashbar Trailer, it hauls a good load of grub, and tows like a dream.
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Old 04-30-08, 08:39 PM   #15
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I spent $60 on my kiddie trailer and it folds up to fit underneath my bed.
Yes, but that would disturb the ferocious dust bunnies under there. They're best left alone.
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Old 04-30-08, 08:53 PM   #16
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I go shopping more often... it works out perfectly because I buy a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables that only last a couple days. For my biggest trips (if I run out of cereal, soy milk, oatmeal, pasta, beans, and all the other staples at once) I carry a backpack and use my panniers.

Good plan bringing your panniers in, I learned that the inconvenient way... the first time I used my panniers for groceries I overestimated how much could comfortably fit. I had to stop at the park on the way home and have a picnic, ate some of my fruit and snacks to free up some room. (best possible outcome, really)
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Old 05-01-08, 05:30 AM   #17
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I keep a cargo net in my panniers, full time. If I buy a bit too much for the panniers, I can still get everything home. Plus, some sorts of staples don't fit easily in anything except an Extracycle's panniers. Charcoal, bulk rice, bulk flour... A cargo net makes it much easier to get them home.

If I know I'm doing a giant stock up trip, I'll bring a spare canvas bag along so I don't end up with plastic.
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Old 05-01-08, 09:21 AM   #18
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Trailers absolutely work in a city setting. I love my city, and I love my Bob yak.
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Old 05-01-08, 12:18 PM   #19
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For those who want a "afforable" trailer consider a DIY trailer like this one. I built this trailer
many years ago using easily salvaged material that were found or I had on hand. I use it still
today when my Worksman PAV trike can't handle the load. If you elect to follow my mods to
the original plan it will have load capaicity of 300 lbs easy.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It...e-Trailer.aspx

My mods.....
Frame... from plywood to white oak salvaged from a shipping skid.
Wheels...from 27" to 20" salvaged from a discarded kids bike (carrys more).
Neck.. from plywood to white oak salvaged from a shipping skid.
Bracing for neck (for added twist strength) diagonal from front edge of frame to 6"
behind hitch of 3/4" electrical conduit. Neck dimensions can be adjusted to fit properly.
Paint...what I had on hand in oil based enamel.
Hitch.. a piece of tire side wall or other cord reinforced rubber sheeting.
Safety... seat belt for kids and bike flag for idiot drivers.

This plan is so easy to build I built mine using simple hand tools for everything except
drilling the 4 holes in the metal conduit.
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Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 05-01-08, 12:32 PM   #20
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Looks cool. Wish I had the tools to create such a thing. What to do with it outside of wal-mart, though? I already get lots of stares. This will certainly draw more. Which isn't a bad thing I suppose. I may have to commission a family friend to build me one of those. He's good with wood working and could probably build it in an hour or two, barring trips to the lumber yard.
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Old 05-01-08, 12:46 PM   #21
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Looks cool. Wish I had the tools to create such a thing. What to do with it outside of wal-mart, though? I already get lots of stares. This will certainly draw more. Which isn't a bad thing I suppose. I may have to commission a family friend to build me one of those. He's good with wood working and could probably build it in an hour or two, barring trips to the lumber yard.
First, Don't give a damn what "others think" and you'll do much better in life overall. It's YOUR
life live it YOUR way as long as it's legal and moral.

Second, All it takes to build this besides the material is a handsaw, a hammer, a drill & bit,
a paint brush and a little work with some time spent scavaging the wood. The tools you
can borrow with the rest up to you. It's really easy...even if your a girl.
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I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

Originally Posted by krazygluon
Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?
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Old 05-01-08, 12:56 PM   #22
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I think the DIY one looks sleeker and cooler than the little plastic bubble ones you see all over, and probably more sturdy.
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Old 05-01-08, 03:06 PM   #23
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It's really easy...even if your a girl.
First, thanks for the link, because this looks like the perfect solution for me; second, which sex is it again that has a reputation for not follwoing directions???
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Old 05-01-08, 03:49 PM   #24
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In a city you'll probably find it more convenient to shop more frequently where you'll need less carrying capacity. If you're somewhere within walking distance of a green grocer, it is so much nicer to stroll along and pick up fresh the things you need for dinner than to buy a week or two's worth of shrinkwrapped stuff from a megamart.

That said sometimes you need to buy a lot of dry stuff! I have a cargo trailer (homemade) I use in the city for buying things like bulk kitty litter and cat food. When I take it just to go food shopping I always find it overkill because I just don't *want* to buy that much non-fresh stuff. I find it no problems at all in a city, the only one I can thing of is space is tight and you don't have anywhere to store it. Mine is probably no wider than my handlebars so it doesn't really make a difference for filtering through tight situations.

An amazing amount of stuff can fit without a trailer though - between two good sized panniers, a rack (take along bungee cords!), optionally adding a decent backpack to you, and if your bike can accomodate it front racks and front panniers too.
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Old 05-01-08, 07:06 PM   #25
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An amazing amount of stuff can fit without a trailer though - between two good sized panniers, a rack (take along bungee cords!), optionally adding a decent backpack to you, and if your bike can accomodate it front racks and front panniers too.
+1 - I got 30 pounds of produce home in my small panniers (11L), a milk crate wired to the rear rack, a front basket, and a backpack. (I also had 10 pounds of books, and the bike itself weighs in at 30... I was pushing more than half my own weight!)
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