Traveling by bike with your shopping or groceries can be super simple and you don’t need a lot of fancy kit. As you start to shop by bike more often you can make long-term investments in equipment, but you can start today!
To get started try and find a shop that’s on a route you already take, like to work or somewhere you frequently pass. This way it’s simple and quick to grab a few things on a ride you are already doing, reducing the need for bigger shops which are harder to carry on your bike.
Wearing a backpack is a great way to increase the amount you can carry while riding your bike. It’s also far safer than carrying bags on your handlebars which can make steering very tricky and even be dangerous. Just put your backpack on, get on your bike, and head to the shops, it’s that simple.
If you want to be able to carry more shopping by bike or start doing it more regularly, you could try installing a pannier/bike rack. This coupled with pannier bags or bungees will allow you to carry more and you will notice the weight less!
Pannier bags are large sack-like bags that easily clip on and off your rack. There are many types so you can choose one to suit the type of shopping you’re carrying, the weather you ride in, and your budget.
You can also use bungee cords or net to strap larger or bulky items to the top of your pannier rack. You’d be surprised what you can carry with these, just make sure they have been securely attached.
Cargos bikes are made specifically to carry heavy loads or even extra people! The bikes vary in shape and size and can have two wheels or three. Cargo bikes generally have a longer wheelbase than a standard bicycle, with space for your shopping (or people) in the front or back.
Made it to the shops and back? Don’t forget to claim your Ride to the Shops badge!
Riding with kids can seem daunting at first, after all, that’s precious cargo. First make sure you are confident at riding your bike, looking behind and steering with one hand so you can signal to other road users. Once you are feeling confident you can start bringing the kids along for the ride too.
If you want more guidance on getting confident take a look at our tips page.
Look up local training providers, they often have sessions for families. An expert cycling instructor can show you how to ride confidently with your children so you know where to position yourself and how to direct them calmly as you ride.
There is a range of seats for kids that attach directly to your bike. Front seats affect the handling of your bike less than rear seats but force you to ride bow-legged. That’s okay for short rides but can get uncomfortable for anything over a few miles.
Consider a seat that mounts onto the crossbar for younger kids - they get the view and also get used to seeing out front rather than staring into your back. As a parent/carer, it also feels much more natural and safer as they sit within your arms and upper body.
Whichever seat you chose, after fitting it to your bike take it for a test run to get used to the handling. Strap something heavy in the seat (like a sack of potatoes) so you know what it will feel like. Also, practice getting on and off your bike so you can do it without accidentally kicking your little passenger!
Trailers are a great shout as your child gets older. They also give you extra capacity to carry other items like groceries. Trailers are very sturdy too, so you benefit from better bike handling. While a trailer might look very big, the majority of them fold flat so you don’t need a big garage to be able to store one.
Once your kid is a bit bigger you could switch the trailer for a tagalong. These look like half a bike plus a towing arm. Just remember to fit a fender or mudguard to your bike, as your little passenger is in the firing line!
Image: The Little Bike Company Ltd
Starting kids riding at a young age will help set them up for a lifetime filled with brilliant bike rides. In the next section we look at how to get kids riding, from choosing a bike to getting them ready to ride on their own.
Getting kids confident on two wheels from a young age is a good start and balance bikes are the way to go here. Children can learn to balance as they learn to walk, so from age 1 up! As children grow, their bike needs will change so try looking at local hire schemes and kid’s bike subscriptions that allow you to easily replace their bike as they grow out of it.
Or if you’d rather own a bike outright, buy the best quality you can afford because they can hold their price if they’re looked after well. Then you’ll have money to spend on the next bike.
Training wheels are the step after a balance bike or a perfect option for children who have never ridden before. They attach to your child’s bike, usually to the back axel, and provide additional stability until your kid is ready to roll on their own. However, you don’t always have to use training wheels. Some people like to turn a regular bike into a balance bike by removing the pedals. This is another fantastic way to get your child used to riding.
When your little rider is confident on their bike (with training wheels or balance bike), it’s time to level up! Lighter bikes can be a game changer here. A light bike is easier to move, lift over objects or turn on the spot. It may seem a minor point, but it can make a big difference.
When it comes to riding independently, falling off is likely, so begin on the grass with you holding onto the back of the seat. When your child looks confident, let go without them knowing and watch them ride!
Learning to ride a bike can take time, so patience is key (from adults and kids alike). The payoff of learning to ride is huge so keep going, and soon you’ll all be riding together!
When riding with children, particularly if they are beginners, it’s best to avoid busy routes. Luckily there are several places that are perfect for little riders. Here’s some guidance on where to ride with kids depending on their riding experience.
For very young children on push-along and balance bikes, the pavement outside your home is a great place for them to find their feet (or wheels). Or, if the road is busy, try the local park or a quiet side road.
Bike paths and shared-use paths are great for kids to gain confidence and build up their riding experience. If your child wants to try something different, you could head to a skate park or pump track - perfect for budding BMXers!
Once children have built their biking confidence, you can start introducing them to the roads! Begin with quiet side roads before heading out on longer trips to school or a friend’s house. Before you set out, make sure your kids know the basics of road safety and the rules of the road. Keep communicating with them during the ride and schedule a few stops to check in on how they’re doing.
Want to know where to ride and how to up the fun factor? Check out our tips for planning rides with kids.
Once you’ve been out for a ride with your kid(s) don’t forget to claim your Ride with Kids badge!
Riding your bike to work is a great way to start your day. Riding home again is a bonus! Riding your bike can help wake up your brain and get some daily exercise into your routine without having to make time for it. Switching to a bike for your commute can seem complicated so here are some of our top tips. You can read more on our Riding to Work Tips.
Getting to know your route is getting half the job of commuting by bike done. Plan your route in advance or ask co-workers who already ride which route they would take. This way you can figure out what you feel comfortable with and take advantage of their knowledge of quiet roads. Also, try riding your route to work at a quieter time, like on the weekend. This way you'll be more comfortable with the route to work.
If your bike hasn’t had a service for a while, treat yourself and book it in for one. With all the money (and time) you’ll be saving by commuting on your bike, an annual service is going to be an easy decision to make.
Buddying up can make the whole process seem less daunting. You could ask someone else who would like to ride to work, but hasn’t started yet, to join you on your commute. If somebody at work already rides in, and your routes could connect up, ask if you can join them. Either way having someone to ride with will make you feel more confident and add some accountability to help you stick to it as well.
Don’t forget to log your rides when you ride to work to unlock your commuter badges!