There are plenty of studies out that there prove that bicycle infrastructure leads to improved local economy because people traveling on bicycles tend to shop more locally. The bottom line tends to be that people on bicycles buy more locally, shop more often, and, if they are not spending money on cars and car things, have more to spend. One of the arguments says that it is easier for people on bikes to make spontaneous stops for things. I guess not having to hunt for a parking spot, and the ease in maneuvering for a spot to lock a bike makes it easier. And people on bikes apparently eat alot.
However… I often feel that it is not as easy as they say it is.
Tonight was a good case in point. I needed to make two quick stops on my way home from work, both of which would have meant maybe 5 minutes inside each location (depositing a check, dropping of something to a colleague). However, I had a ton of extra stuff with me, and having to strip my bike, then repack it, for barely five minutes makes me dislike these types of errands after work.
The routine goes like this:
- Find place to lock up bike. Luckily, the bike rack near where I was deposting my check was emploty; it isn’t always.
- Stop, get off bike, position bike in best spot to lock it up.
- Dig out key from purse in front basket. It’s on my regular key ring, so that means hauling the whole thing out. (It also means I’m never without my lock key…)
- Lock bike.
- Dump key back in purse.
- Turn off rear light.
- Removed both back pannier bags from back rack. Decide which shoulder each one goes on.
- Turn off front light.
- Unplug and remove front light battery.
- Find a place to put aforementioned battery. Because it is winter, and I’m (begrudgingly) wearing a reflective vest over my coat, I have to fumble to get it in a pocket. Normally I just toss it into my helmet, but, again, because it is cold, I’m still wearing my helmet at this point. The ear pads keep me warm!
- Remove purse from front basket. A third bag to now juggle.
- Remove leg bands. These normally go in the helmet once I’ve removed it.
- Remove glasses (I wear clear ones when its dark).
- Remove helmet so I can stash all these little pieces.
- Remove gloves.
Now that I’ve done all that, I drag my four items into the store, juggle all of them while I pull out my wallet to deposit said check, fumble while I put wallet back, pick everything back up, and return to the street, and repeat the process in reverse order.
Really, that is NOT easy. In behavior change-speak, that is 15 different barriers to making this easy. Okay, maybe I am being lazy. But let’s be honest – it’s easier to jump out of a car and lock everything behind you, run in somewhere, and run out again. Sure, going to the gym is not a problem, because I’ll be there for over an hour. But these little short trips? Torture. I skipped the second errand because I didn’t want to do all this all over again.
Last weekend I wanted to go to Target, Petsmart, G Street Fabrics, and JoAnn Fabrics, all in Seven Corners, which is not far from my apartment, five miles-ish. Not the most bike-friendly of routes, and deceptively uphill, but manageable. Even getting from the Target and Petsmart side to the G Street Fabrics and JoAnns side, which is definitely bike-friendly, isn’t that terrible. What drives me nuts and makes me not want to go is having to stop, lock up, strip the bike, drag my stuff around, repack the bike, move it, and repeat the process. I don’t know why, I can’t explain why it bothers me so much, but it does. I can think of several things that bother me in similar fashion – I hate flying with too much stuff, for example. Juggling carry-ons, and boarding passes, not having my hands free – it just bugs me. I prefer having everything in its place, neat and compact and efficient. And somehow, this process of unloading and loading a bike seems very inefficient.
Am I the only one who has problems with running multiple errands by bike like this? Or is everyone else okay leaving panniers and helmets on bikes while running short errands? Maybe I just carry too much stuff? Is there a secret I don’t know – someone please enlighten me! How do you easily run multiple errands?!