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Here's a CaBi question for Mr. washcycle and audience?

is there a good way of carrying a beverage in the basket? I thought I had a good idea yesterday of carrying a milkshake between the bars of the basket like a cupholder, but the cup completely fell apart (making quite a mess) when I took it out. (I can't even imagine the mess and the burns I would have got if it were hot coffee)

FWIW, Anthony Hood lives on the edge of the city in Ward 5 in the Woodridge neighborhood. Ward 5 outside of the "core", neighborhoods like Bloomingdale and Eckington (and only along N. Capitol) and Trinidad along Florida Avenue, is very much automobile-centric.

But the issue of grocery shopping and bikes is a bit more complex, although that is certainly an issue.

I do it, hanging bags on my handlebars and using my backpack, as a matter of course. I see more people doing it at the Safeway at Piney Branch Rd., and that part of W4 isn't particularly walkable.

Anthony Hood is speaking from his own experience, therefore, which is colored by the lack of bike and pedestrian infrastructure. The problem is that (1) he ignores all the areas that HAVE such infrastructure and (2) he does not see how changing the infrastructure can change uses.

Both (1) and (2) make me question the suitability of Mr. Hood being commissioner of zoning.

I like Giant for shopping by bicycle, because of the Scan-it program. I can walk around the store, scanning items and bagging them straight into my panniers. This gives me time to distribute the load properly, and keeps me from buying more than i can carry.

I agree the issue is a bit more complex. I can move a pretty good load of groceries with my bike, but that's because i shelled out for both front and rear racks and good panniers to go along with. Not cheap.

Cheaper than paying for the car and gas and insurance, I'll bet. Its more than $60 to fill a tank, and it doesnt take many of those to buy some nice accessories.

I have been doing my grocery shopping by bike in Bowie for about 5 years now. The addition of a trailer took to worry out of wondering if I could get a weeks worth of loot home. Plus since it has a lockable box, I can do more than one stop on the same trip.

Infrastructure is an important component. The MOMS near me has a nice bike rack right in front of the store. The local Giant, on the other hand, has a crappy comb style bike made for 20" wheels. They keep moving it around and crowd it out with junk like patio furniture. I gave up trying to encourage improvements. They had no interest.

So I shop at MOMS, even though it is farther away and up hill. At MOMS I often get compliments on my method of travel.

SJE, that's true; eventually the bike method comes out ahead. :^)

twk, my Giant (Wheaton Plaza) has a crappy comb rack too. They finally stopped moving it around a year or so ago, but now it's bolted down too close to the wall, so this 10' rack can handle no more than three normal sized bikes. Better than nothing, and i haven't had a problem because there aren't many other shoppers-by-bike, and many of them just park their bikes to the side in one of the entrances, without locking up at all.

I used to like MOMS (Rockville) but their prices for the things i need are just not competitive, and the layout of the new store is criminally stupid. Harris Teeter is nice because they're open 24 hours and they have a decent rack.

BikeArlington has a guide to parking at grocery stores in Arlington.


Grocery shopping by bike can also be a lifestyle issue. For example, we recently moved to a new neighborhood, which is a lot closer to a grocery store (though not a great one). We end up shopping (either there or at the better stores that are farther away) 3-4 times a week, which means smaller loads. All told, we probably spend the same amount of time and less money on grocery shopping, in part because biking is faster (considering parking, etc) and in part because we don't have to plan as much and waste food we don't use. (When you're only buying for today and tomorrow, you have a better idea of what you need).

I make it a point to complete the customer surveys that stores are incessantly asking me to fill out and comment on bike parking. Several years back when the Home Depot opened in PG Plaza, I made comments for several months and then suddenly decent bike parking appeared. Don't know if my comments made any difference, but I still comment (positively) when I fill out their surveys. If you keep asking, at some point the smarter ones catch on.

@SJE Wald folding baskets cost less than $40/pair. Those hold more than enough to feed me for a week.

@PdE Good idea on the surveys. Grocery stores don't hear from us often enough.

Sadly only one of the five stores I've routinely used had decent parking (Whole Foods on Duke near King St Metro). The others have no parking (Giant, Shoppers), badly installed _and_ substandard parking (Trader Joes--two wave racks, both installed too close to the wall so bicycles fall over) or substandard parking (MOMs upgraded from a wretched slot rack to a less-substandard wave rack). Here I refer to Alexandria standards for bike parking in new developments.

What is MOMs?


Grocery stores hear from me about bike parking, but something minor that bothers me about many is this: many reward people for "going green" and bringing their own bag, but why don't they give a kick-back to cyclists or nondrivers. I think the environmental impact of my biking for groceries is a lot higher than the difference between a plastic bag and one of those plastic bags you can buy (and use for 6 months). Furthermore, aside from driving externalities, stores spend a lot on parking directly, and THEN there are all the environemntal externalities. Everyone who isn't driving subsidizes those who are. The MOM's in Alexandria, for instance, has a huge parking lot full of impermeable asphalt right next to Four Mile Run. If they want people to go green, they should turn that thing into a giant rain garden.


I went to Dawson's Market in the Rockville Town Center for the first time yesterday and the cashier asked me, "Did you drive here or walk?" I walked there (too close to bike) so I got a 25-cent "enviro-credit" on my bill. This is way better than the old 3-cent credit you'd get for bringing your own bag.

@Ren - Then there are stores like Giant that give you gas rewards for shopping. Nothing "green" about that.

@PdE - At our Giant I did the survey more than once. Even offered to help them find a better rack. Talked with the manager a few times too in a very polite and encouraging manner. They are just too car centric. The funny thing is, their crappy comb style bike rack is often full with bikes locked up sideways. There is demand, just not vision.

I also think part of the grocery store bike rack quality may be driven by the landlord as much or even more than by the stores. I guided a local strip mall owner to get nice inverted "U" racks when they re-did the place. I helped locate sources of supply and recommend types. The result was a nice inverted "U" right in front of MOMS and cyclist who uses it every week.

SJE - your analysis of Hood's thought process is spot-on.

Kolohe, the only thing I can think of is this. Bring your own container - one that seals shut pretty securely - like a thermos.

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