Why Bikes are Better than Cars–Part I: Carrying Stuff

It seems obvious to me, but in case you don’t know yet, I’ve decided to write a series of posts about some of the main ways that bikes are better.

I used to think that I wanted a big car so I could put all my stuff in it and take it all with me wherever I went. Boy, was I dumb! The truth is that when you have a big car, you become a slave to it. You are spending all this money on gasoline, maintenance, insurance, taxes, so you think: “I better at least use it.” And most people think that the one thing they’ll always need a car for is shopping and putting stuff in it to move the stuff from here to there. The problem with this idea is that it commits you to dealing with traffic, finding parking, stressing out about everything, and suddenly your whole Saturday is ruined. Who needs that? I don’t.

I know people with small children and babies who transport them everywhere on their e-bikes. Also cargo e-bikes are a new thing that are already huge in Germany and The Netherlands and are getting more common all over.


I have an even simpler solution to carrying stuff from point A to point B. Let me illustrate mathematically: You (biker) need to get heavy things (beer) and delicate things (eggs) from the place you acquire them (store) to the place where you keep them (refrigerator) without stressing out on a beautiful Saturday. Here’s how:

The first thing you need is a good rear bike rack. While you can buy really cheap rear racks, better racks give you a lot more ability to carry weight and arrange saddle bags, or panniers, on your bike effectively.

I ride with the Tubus Logo Evo rear rack, which is bomb-proof


Next, you need the panniers, that attach to your rear rack. Again, you can get cheap bags, but remember that panniers are not just useful for shopping, but also for your next multi-day bike adventure. Therefore, use some of the millions of dollars/euros you are saving by not driving and get some good waterproof panniers. Ortlieb and Vaude are two great manufacturers that you cannot go wrong with.

Panniers for carrying stuff


One other secret tip: I always carry a shopping bag that fits in a little stuff sack in my day bag. These have a “handle” that you can sling over your shoulder. So if you get all your beer, eggs, and food in your panniers, but don’t have quite enough room for that giant bag of Cheesy Poofs that you love, you just unfold the shopping bag, put the Cheesy Poofs in it, sling it over your shoulder, and be on your merry way.

Now, as you are in the bike lane flying by all the big cars stuck in traffic, you know that you can accomplish your mission, with surgical precision, and no stress.

Here is the less obvious benefit of shopping by bike, instead of by car: I call it the Law of Available Space. The more space you have, the more junk you put in it that you don’t really need. We are already bankrupting our planet by using up all available space and taking or polluting everything that all other species need to survive. Our consumption of stuff is not sustainable. Think: “small and efficient,” instead of “huge and wasteful.”  Less is more. Being a biker in the drive and consume world is taking a bold step (actually a bold ride) in the only direction we can travel if we want to survive.

We bikers are leading the way. Ride on!


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