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Bag Buddy: The Right Wrong Way to Carry Grocery Bags

by Ted Johnson

Confession: I used to carry grocery bags on my handlebars.

Now when I see anyone doing this practice, I regard it with the same disdain as other reproachable behaviors such as public nose picking, talking in theaters, or having the same ringtone as I do.

Bag Buddy: Wronger

Wronger

But for every unsanctioned behavior, there is a right and a wrong way to do it — rather, a wrong and wronger way to do it.

On the Web, there are pages telling you how to give yourself a tattoo, how to act as your own attorney, how to drive home drunk, how to smoke in your room and not get caught, how to become good at knife fighting, how to play the lottery, and other not-in-your-self-interest guides — like Dummies books for actual dumb behavior.

Bag Buddy: Wrong

Wrong

This very site has a popular page on how to ride on the sidewalk. And it begins with the standard, “Don’t. But if you do…” mixed message common to all how-to guides of this nature.

So with mixed feelings, I present to you: Bag Buddy:

I accept that there are urban hipsters in the world who would sooner listen to Gordon Lightfoot unironically than be seen on a bike with a rear rack and grocery panniers.

And for them, there are better options than hanging bags off their handlebars. There are huge messenger backpacks, such as the Chrome Warsaw Pro, with a capacity of 5400 cubic inches — or just over 23 gallons of milk.

Chrome Warsaw Pro Bike Backpack

Righter

And let’s not forget the BackTpack, which provides panniers that hang from your shoulders — no rack required.

BackTpack

Right… and somehow so wrong.

But here’s another confession: I wouldn’t mind having a pair of Bag Buddies to keep in my panniers for peace of mind.

When I go grocery shopping, I begin to push a limit. I look in my grocery cart and I start to wonder if I will be able to fit it all in my panniers, my rack-top bag, on my porteur rack, in my Ridekick trailer, and my backpack (if I happen have that with me too).

I imagine the scenario where I have to slink back into the grocery store and return that 16-pack of toilet paper (but certainly not the 12-pack of beer). Or worse: the scenario where I call my wife and admit she must come with the car to carry the excess load. Both of these would be more humiliating than clipping on a couple of Bag Buddies and enduring the minor shame of carrying a couple bags on my handlebars.

 
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12 Responses to “Bag Buddy: The Right Wrong Way to Carry Grocery Bags”

  1. James says:

    Plastic shopping bags suck. Full stop.

  2. Paul in N.W. Gorgia says:

    As I am touring across the US I find carrying enough food to last till the next town big enough to have a grocery store means having extra food in plastic shopping bags hanging from one end of my bike to the other. People often commit on it.
    Once I am out of the southwest desert then I may be able to carry less.
    But on the other hand, it sure is nice not stopping at every small high price store or really big crowed stores. So, I guess having bags hanging all over my fully loaded bike will continue.

    I am starting to realize how nice plastic bags have become.

  3. Wern says:

    Almost as humiliating as bar ends, which accomplish the same purpose.

  4. John says:

    Pink streamers stuck out of the bar ends would add a nice touch to the bag buddies.

  5. listenermark says:

    Completely agree with James….kick that plastic bag habit, it’s not hard. Reusable grocery bags fold flat, are easy to store, and weigh next to nothing. While it’s almost impossible to eliminate all petroleum products, this one is monkey simple.

  6. mwmike says:

    Perfect for carrying my beer and cigarettes.

  7. Matt H says:

    mwmike… you bring up the “beer and cigarettes” but unfortunately in our small suburban Philadelphia town it’s the people who lost their license to DUI/DWI offenses who you are most likely to use the bike as practical transportation… and the tell-tale sign? Full plastic bags hanging from the handle bars! (Often on old racing style bikes with the handlebars turned upside down.)

    That leads to a bigger observation… a few years ago I was reading a book about someone who moved to rural Wales and only used his bike for transportation. He related with some humor that the guys in the local pub were convinced that he didn’t drive because he lost his license or that he killed someone with a car. They never considered that he would chose to live that way, and didn’t believe him when he said he did.

    That’s not just a UK phenomenon, unfortunately.

  8. Dan says:

    I like the measure of relative shame, and make most of my decisions this way.

  9. norm says:

    Yeah, I agree, no to the plastic bags, and riding with bags on the bars is asking for trouble. But couldn’t they work with a reusable bag with handles? Hmm. There’s nothing like getting to the end of the line in the grocery and finding I’ve bought too much to go in my panniers, might be nice to have a secure (if dumb) option.

  10. BluesCat says:

    I have some reusable Fry’s Foods grocery bags with zippered tops. They are also insulated. I can hang them on the loops of my Trekking bars and they are great for bringing home bulky items from the store like paper towels, toilet paper, and even a six-pack of beer in each one: BluesCat’s Poor Man’s Front Panniers.

  11. Robert Paul Paul Hingston says:

    I have wide handle grips it never fit on

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