Running Errands on Your Bike: It’s Easier Than You Think! – Part 1

EVELO Luna errandsBy David Rodenhiser.

One of the great things about a bike, especially an electric bike, is how you can combine exercise and fun with the daily tasks you need to get done.

We’ve already talked about how to commute by bike, but now let’s think about adding even more riding to your day, or just some at all – commuting by bike isn’t possible for everyone, or maybe you’re retired, or like me, you largely work from home.

When you think about what you dislike the most about running your daily errands, like shopping, what is it? For me, it’s sitting in traffic, and trying to find a parking space. Even if there’s a parking lot, you still have to cruise the lot looking for a spot, and that’s incredibly stressful.

I know a person who used to be an insurance adjuster for a major insurance company, and she told me that nearly a quarter of the cases she dealt with involved parking lot fender-benders.  I have no problem believing this!


EVELO Luna errands 1

Like any new endeavor, the hardest part is getting started. Until you know the tips and tricks, the perceived (and real) challenges can seem daunting. Let’s list them, and then we’ll talk about the solutions.

It’s important to realize that like almost everything else in the world, this isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. If you need to buy groceries for a family of four, maybe you still will want to do some of your shopping by car. Do your big shopping trip once every few weeks for the things that are heavy and/or bulky and last a long time (think: big bottles of laundry detergent, 24 packs of paper towels and toilet paper, cases of soda,  canned goods, etc.) in your car.

Then, buy the perishable items more frequently.  The Europeans have this down to a fine art. Think of the French person who stops daily at the boulangerie so they always have fresh baked goods. Vegetables and fruits are another good thing to buy this way, especially if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that has farm stands or farmer’s markets. Same with dairy products and eggs.

Maybe daily isn’t an option for you, but perhaps every 2 or 3 or 4 days works better. Of course, if you do want to go all out, there’s ways to do all of your shopping by bike. Especially in urban areas, not everyone owns a car, so there are plenty of people who do all of their shopping without one, even in the car-dependent USA. It can be done!

EVELO errands

Number One on any list has to be the question of how to carry your cargo. As we’ll see, there are many options, and the ones you use depend on what you want to do.

Firstly, I want to start by saying that hanging grocery bags off of your handlebars is a really bad idea! I’ll admit I’ve done it, but you definitely compromise the handling of your bike quite a bit, and that’s not a great thing to to do. When they start swaying around, you can easily lose control. Which is bad – trust me on this one 🙂

Say you want to start small. So, first you equip your bike with racks and bags. There are some great combination rack-top pannier bags that are big enough to fit a surprising amount of stuff!

I have one, a Topeak MTX Trunk Bag DXP Bicycle Trunk Bag with Rigid Molded Panels, that I can fit up to a week’s worth of groceries for one person in, no problems. EVELO also sells one that works really well: Rack Top Pannier Bag

And there’s bigger options available, like this one: M-Wave Double Day Tripper Bicycle Pannier. It’s a great bargain at $25. Or, a smaller option like this: Sunlite Rear Wire Basket Rack Top Quick Release.

Some bikes, like the EVELO Luna can carry quick-releasing front baskets that go on the handlebars: Electra QR Steel Mesh Basket. These are great for quick trips: just pull it off the bike on your way into the store, and put your items right into the basket – no need for a separate bag!

If you want to regularly carry more than 30 lbs of cargo on your bike, dividing the weight between the front and back of the bike starts to make sense. Some combination of the above is one way to do that.

But say you want to carry even more. Well, you can add a front rack, that will take the same panniers and bags mentioned above. This one fits front suspension forks, including the ones on all EVELO bikes: Zefal Touring Raider Front Bike Rack.

Be aware, though, that before venturing out into traffic, it’s important to get comfortable with extra weight on the front of your bike. While this is good advise no matter where you put the weight, it’s especially important when it’s the front wheel.

And of course, there’s always a knapsack. For short trips, and light loads, that might be all you need. I often put the more fragile items in mine, like eggs, and fresh fruits, since they’re a bit more isolated from the bumps on the road.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for part 2 with ideas on cargo trailers and more ways to incorporate running errands by bike into your life.

EVELO Luna errands

Written by David Rodenhiser. David is the Customer Service Manager and Resident Blogger at EVELO Electric Bicycle company. When he’s not busy helping folks find the perfect electric bike for themselves, he writers a weekly blog column where he presents the best bike accessory reviews, useful apps for casual riders, and other tips for electric bike riders.

P.S. Don’t forget to join the Electric Bike Report community for updates from the electric bike world, plus ebike riding and maintenance tips!


  1. Don Gerhardt says

    Hi David,
    I agree that an E-Bike is great for running errands. I often use one of my E-Bikes instead of a motorcycle because I can carry more on the E-Bike and it is more fun. I use the large size Wald baskets on each side of the rear wheel of my custom Cycle Genius long wheelbase recumbent E-bike. Each large Wald basket is 18 in long x 8 in wide x 12 in deep. I upgraded the rear tire to a Maxxis 26×2.50 Hookworm tire. I use a 72 volt system to help with the weight and to keep up with traffic.

    We used foldable rear panniers for the Danville VA E-Bike citizen study. They worked well and you are always prepared if you want to buy something while riding.

    We are working on a proposed solar E-Bike charging station for the Whole Foods Market. Hopefully you will be able to charge your E-bike with solar energy when you shop at the Whole Foods Market.

    Don Gerhardt

    • says

      Hi Don,

      I’m with you on that – I ride motorcycles as well, and I find that it’s easier to do most shopping runs on an electric bike. Since I’m an All the Gear, All the Time kind of rider, once you factor in the time spent getting into your riding gear, taking some of it off to head into the store, re-dressing to get back on the motorcycle and out again when I get home, that any errand under 10 miles is faster on the bike. The gloves are particularly a pain, and adding in how hot the jacket gets in warm weather (once you stop moving and go into the store), it just takes longer.

      And you’re right. Especially with the correct carrying setups, you can get a lot of stuff on a bike, plus there are trailers. I’ve towed a motorcycle trailer, but at 40+ mph, it just doesn’t feel safe to me. And if you go slower than the speed limit, the cagers get mad at you. At least on a bike, people cut you slack as long as you aren’t going 10mph and blocking them. Finally, motorcycle trailers are EXPENSIVE!

      Your setup sounds really quite ideal! I’ve electrified my old BikeE, and am planning to upgrade it to a mid-drive at some point. Having all that open space for bags really gives you lots of options.

      I’d love to hear more about your project with Whole Foods – it sounds really great!

  2. Eugene says

    Hi Don,

    Will this e-bike solar charging station be at one particular Whole Foods Market, or at all Whole Foods Markets?

    • Don Gerhardt says

      The proposal is to build the first E-Bike solar prototype charging station at the Whole Foods Market in Winston Salem NC. When the prototype is tested and approved it could become available at other worldwide locations. The Whole Foods Market has a policy of protecting the environment.
      This is part of a long term plan to have E-Bike solar charging stations at various locations in Winston Salem including colleges, hospitals, government and private businesses.


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