It’s Bike to Work Week! In an effort to scrounge up interest from a climate-controlled population in a more sustainable, active mode of transportation, the National League of American Cyclists chose the most pleasant month of the year to introduce commuters to fresh air and two wheels. While you’re welcome to take the bike lane by storm any day of the season, there will be some sanction to your efforts May 16-20. But if you’re reluctant to straddle your bike at 7 a.m., live dozens of miles from the office, or don’t dare to subject your designer suit to the elements, we have the perfect place for you to pedal to instead—the grocery store.
Eating your broccoli is healthier than eating none at all, and each car taken off the road is indeed a boost (however minor) for the environment. What’s more, we reluctantly admit you’re technically helping by recycling only when it is convenient. Yes, accomplishing some of these things is inarguably better than accomplishing none at all, but why settle for mediocrity when you can do more for yourself and the environment? Sustainability thrives when it is all-encompassing.
By biking to the grocery store, you’re fostering life-long fitness and protecting the environment, and you only have enough room to bring home the exact amount of broccoli you want to eat—meaning healthier and strategic dietary choices and less wasted food. Biking to the grocery store is a wholesome way to embody the spirit of sustainability that My City Bikes and Whole Foods Market participate in. The two teamed up to host the Biking with Whole Foods Market group grocery bike rides this spring and summer.
This will mark the first national group bike ride to the grocery store, and Whole Foods Market will be the first Certified Bike-Friendly Grocer to host a group bike ride. “This ride starts at Whole Foods Market because a large part of body optimization is riding a bike. A bike is the second most important fuel for your body to maximize its full potential—the first most important fuel is whole foods,” said Anthony Douglas, a representative of My City Bikes. You’ll certainly be making more trips to the grocery store, but you can think of them as fuel for yourself and fewer trips (and less money) to fuel your car.
According to My City Bikes, making a habit of biking to the grocery store three times per week will:
- Save 30 pounds of air pollution
- Reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 50 percent
- Put $14.40 back in your pocket
Still not sure why you would forfeit the lavish luxury of four wheels and air conditioning for just two and a whole lot of huffing and puffing? Biking to the grocery store doesn’t have to end in a tangle of bungie cords and an ill-judged watermelon purchase duct taped to your helmet—experts and bike shop owners offered the following actionable advice to ensure your first run goes without a hitch.
Will it fit?
“Buy removable baskets or grocery panniers. Take them into the store with you and use them as your shopping cart. This way when you fill your baskets or bags you know you can fit it all on your bike.” – Beth Annon, Owner, B & L Bike Shop in Davis, CA
“Play Tetris! It’s all about how you put things away. Utilize your space to the max! Fill up your pannier, then use bungees on your rear rack for bulkier items like toilet paper. Finally, attach a handlebar pouch to the front of your bike for a little extra storage room. You’d be surprised how much your bike can carry!” – Andrea Aponte, General Manager, Santa Monica Bike Center in Los Angeles, CA
“Don’t forget that you can use bungees or nets. I don’t suggest overloading with the heavier stuff, but when you’ve got what my kids like to call the fluffies which is soft light things like toilet paper they don’t have to fit in your bike bags. If you’ve got a couple of bungees you can attach them on top of the bags or the rack. Just make sure you’ve got them crisscrossed so it’s not going to slip out.” – Laura K. of San Diego, CA
“A backpack is OK for hauling small trips, but if you really want to make biking to the store a regular thing you’ll be much happier (and safer) with some kind of storage attachment like a sturdy rear bike rack or a bike basket.” – Riley H. of New York, NY
“Find a route that works best for you. In Charleston, for example, we have a few heavily trafficked main roads but a plethora of safer neighborhoods that are much less hectic. A lot of times these routes are quicker for a bicyclist as well, with fewer cars and possibly a more direct route.” – Jordan Tarrant, Sale associate, The Bicycle Shoppe in Charleston, SC
“Use it as an opportunity to try specialty stores. It’s good because you don’t get bored with your bike route or your food. With a car you feel like you want to load up and it’s just more convenient to do it all at one time and at one place. With the bike you know you’ll have to go more often, but I think that’s a chance to mix things up. Try one day to the supermarket, one day to a farmer’s market, one day to a health food store, one day to an ethnic foods specialty place.” – Becca D. of San Francisco, CA
Preparation, preparation, preparation
“The key to simple but safe grocery shopping using your bike is careful, well-thought-through planning.” – Karen Malogorski, Owner, Bikes Plus Memphis in Memphis, TN
“I love biking to the store because I never have to compete for parking spaces at the bike rack, and I never have to sit in traffic on the way there. On busy days I definitely get in and out faster when I bike – it’s like planning to save time! It also helps to be more organized knowing I only have so much space and I have to bike it all home.” – Amika L. of Houston, TX
“I like to schedule a couple of trips a week—just like I would for a yoga class—so that it’s already a part of my routine. I can plan meals that way, too. Like if I’m going to use a particular ingredient for a recipe but I’m buying it a week in advance it could go bad, but this way everything is always fresh.” – Emily L. of Portland, OR
“Bring a bike lock. Make sure you lock your bike to an actual rack and lock up both wheels. You wouldn’t leave your car unlocked in the parking lot. Same goes for your bike.” – Joey B. of Phoenix, AZ
Pro tip: If you’re inexperienced or returning from a long hiatus to the cycling community, it is worth your time to brush up on the rules of the road. Visit bikeleague.org/statebikelaws and click on your state for up-to-date, local laws!
For more information about Biking with Whole Foods Market and to find local Biking with Whole Foods Market group rides, visit lifeisacycle.bike.