Shopping without parking troubles

Father, two children, tag along and bike trailerFamily shop: even rain didn’t deter Christchurch residents Rainer (Dad), Marlina and Lucas from taking on the annual supermarket challenge. Photo courtesy Steven Muir,

Bicycles might be good for riding to work or down to the milk bar for a paper. The challenge in trying to do things like the weekly grocery shop is carrying it all home. But it can be done and be more enjoyable than taking the car. A Christchurch cyclist has now organised two Supermarket Challenges to prove it.

Steven Muir sent three pairs of bikes and cars off to the supermarket – each with two small children in tow. The cyclists carried their small passengers on front and rear child seats and towed a home-built trailer.

This year on the 3km and 6km routes, the bikes returned at least 25 minutes before the cars. On the 1km route the cyclist was 2 minutes behind because a passenger needed a toilet stop.

In spite of the rainy conditions, the cyclists all said they had enjoyed the trip more than the drivers. And the passengers were happy because they got to test the consistency of the ice cream on return – an important factor in determining how practical shopping by bike is.

The panel of experts apparently gave the bicycle-transported ice cream the thumbs up.

So shopping by bike can be faster and less stressful. You don’t have parking troubles and it’s cheaper than taking the car. But you still have to carry it all. What are your options?

For small loads, a back pack, or handle bar or pack rack mounted basket works well. The odd plastic crate has been seen on Bendigo bikes too.

You might be surprised how much you can fit in two pannier bags. Just be sure to pack the heavy items at the bottom of the bags.

For a serious family shop, though, you can’t go past a bike trailer. You can buy lovely trailers all ready to hook up to your bike. Some are even designed to unhook so you can push them around the supermarket and repack them at the checkout.

They can be fairly pricey, though, ranging from around $300 to over $600.

That’s why Steven Muir built his own from second hand materials. A DIY trailer costs between $20 and $50 he says on his web site, where he provides instructions on how to build one. (See

Steve says the 2009 Supermarket Challenge will be on a Saturday morning “to give the poor cars more of a fair a chance”. Maybe we should have one in Bendigo too?

See you on the road soon, God willing.


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