These things are amazing, and I can’t believe that I did grocery and necessity-shopping without them.
In the last four years, whenever I have gone to a grocery store or to Target for stuff that can be carried on bike, I used my backpack, and also reusable tote bags. Although those serve me well, the problem is that carrying a heavy backpack, plus a couple of tote bags on my shoulders or handlebars, leads to potentially-hazardous imbalance. Thankfully, I never got into a crash or a wipeout in this situation. Actually, I recall that I blogged about this last year too.
I had not considered them prior to this year, however, because my previous bike (the Dahon Cadenza), did not have racks attached, and I thought that it might hamper the convenience of the bike and its foldability. But, last year as the foldability of it failed, and I was actively seeking a replacement, a want-to-sell ad for a used Dahon Espresso caught my attention on The Chainlink. The deal included a rack already attached to the bike.
I used the rack a few times with a bungee cord to secure a load on it, but never attempted to secure grocery bags to the bike. But, for my birthday, Dad got me the grocery panniers on LLBean.com (yes, I guess this that the password is “testimonial…”) I have used them several times, and gone are the awkward grocery trips when I have to hang bags from my shoulders and/or my handlebars. I have also used them to carry both Chex Mix and hard hats to sporting events (remember, I no longer use the hard hat as a substitute for a bike helmet!) in lieu of a sports-sack or a backpack. And I can secure them with a bike lock as well!
Therefore, I highly recommend using bike panniers if you plan on using your bike for shopping trips. They double as shopping bags, and can surprisingly hold a lot of items. Stay green by using the reusable bags anyway, just in case you REALLY get a load!
Today is the eighth day of O.C.T.O.B.E.R. That makes one week and one day.