Cargo Biking in the Burbs

“You’re not really going to carry that on bikes?”

sidecar-up-downI love blowing people’s minds.

Saturday, Lisa and I rode our bikes to Lukas Nursery to get some plants for the front porch and see what they had in the way of vegetables. We found some good-looking tomato plants as well as cherry peppers and hot banana peppers. Lukas also had some sturdy already-constructed raised beds for vegetable gardens. Lacking woodworking tools, this was a great choice for us. We would need potting soil to fill it, too.

But the best part would be loading all that stuff onto 2 bikes: Lisa’s pulled a cargo trailer and I rode the Big Dummy with the new Xtracycle sidecar.


The Lukas staff had fun helping us load up. The cashier even took a photo of us after.


There’s room for more!


Lisa wasn’t able to find the plants she wanted for the porch. So we stopped at Home Depot.


Climbing the bridge over Red Bug Lake Rd. wasn’t too hard, just slow. That’s what granny gears are for.

too wide for bl cropped

glass in bike laneI’m feelin’ a little cramped now.

The trip is mostly on residential streets and the Cross Seminole Trail, but to get to Tuscawilla requires 1/2 mile on Aloma. One of my main frustrations with bicycling out here is that most of the arterials have bike lanes or faux bike lanes that are WAY too narrow. It would be far more comfortable to control an 11 or 12ft travel lane, but that’s not a legal option. Trying to keep the loaded utility bike in this confined space was nerve-racking and exhausting.

Didn’t have to stay there for long, though. There must have been a car crash on Aloma recently. The bike lane was filled with broken glass  for about 100ft between Lincoln Parkway and Clark Street. I reported that with the Metroplan Spot Improvement Form when I got home.

For dual track and triple-track vehicles, it’s even more critical to have clean pavement and plenty of space. You can’t just move over a little bit to find a clear line of pavement, you have to get all the tires clear of the debris. Utility bike and trike drivers are short-changed by AASHTO’s inadequate design vehicle—the 30″ single-track bicyclist. The minimum widths for bike lanes are equivalent to designing highway lanes to be barely wider than MINI Coopers. (A MINI driver at least has crumple zones.)


We try to get all of our errands into one trip. We brought a cooler along for stops at Cavallari and Publix.


Plenty of space here!

After Publix, it was back into the neighborhood. For a change of scenery, we took Seneca Blvd. to the Cross Seminole Trail. I’ve really come to love this path. I’m able to use it for many of my trips. In fact, if it wasn’t for this path allowing me to avoid too much exposure to the gutter lane infested arterials, I’d probably be disinclined to use my bike for transportation out here.

Lots of passers-by along the way asked how far we were going. The total trip was a little over 9 miles. Here’s the route. We use the Cross Seminole Trail in two places. The streets of Tuscawilla are low speed, and the speed limits are strictly and regularly enforced, keeping them pleasant to ride on.


Nice to be able to leave the minivan in the driveway.

15 replies
  1. Tom Armstrong
    Tom Armstrong says:

    Like you, I enjoy playing with people’s minds when I haul stuff by bike. Cart-load of groceries? That’s too easy to do, if Jenn and I are riding together. If I have my trailer, well, watch out!! Nine bags of mulch? Easy enough. Six 2x10x8 for the eventual raised garden bed? No sweat at all.

    Of course, part of that is trailer choice. You have stuff that works quite well for what you do. We have a couple of kid trailers that we used prior to my Big Dummy purchase, and we could haul a tenth of a ton of stuff with those two trailers.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      Yeah, groceries are yesterday’s news for haul-a-holics 🙂

      Don’t you have a bikes-at-work cargo trailer, too?

      • Tom Armstrong
        Tom Armstrong says:

        Yes, I do. The folks at Bikes at Work even did a blog post on my handyman service (part of their “let’s highlight folks who use our trailers” efforts). See for details. Bikes at Work also offer their trailers in wide- or extra-heavy variants. I’ve been pondering the wide version (conversion from what I have is easy enough to do), but don’t need the extra weight capacity enough to justify the expense.

        It is with that trailer that the nine bags of mulch or the six boards (different loads) were easily hauled. I’ve hauled some eight-foot stick lumber with just the Big Dummy (with wide loaders and long loader), but nothing quite as heavy as half a dozen 2×10 boards.

        The trailer you and Lisa use works very well for what you do with it. I don’t know that a Bikes at Work 96A would do better, unless you were carrying longer or heavier stuff regularly.

      • Herman F. Ebeling, Jr.
        Herman F. Ebeling, Jr. says:


        I’ve gotta agree with that. And I always get a laugh when people see me with a cartload of groceries and wonder how I’m gonna haul ’em all on my bike.

        One of the nice things about where I go shopping, Sweetbay, I’ve gotten most of the staff “trained” that if they see me either in my full kit and/or wearing my vest not to bag my groceries. It’s easier for me to load my pannier and top bag without having to take it all out of their bags first.

        It’s also easier to balance my load if they don’t bag my stuff.

        I like your Dummy.

        Question, how do you carry the more fragile items, i.e. bread, eggs, and the like?

        • Keri
          Keri says:

          The eggs go in a cooler (I have coolers that fit in panniers, too). Bread is fine if it’s on top of the other stuff.

        • Tom Armstrong
          Tom Armstrong says:

          I keep some fabric grocery bags stowed in the pockets on my Big Dummy. I also have a folding insulated bag for stuff I want to keep cool on hot days (the ride from the grocery is about ten minutes). The light-canvas bags I have (bought from a local grocery store four or five years ago) are sized differently than paper sacks, and fit in my Big Dummy bags very well.

          I’ve been known to bag my own groceries fairly often, if necessary telling the bagger I was doing so before he or she was born (I worked as a bagger for Winn Dixie in the late 1970s). Some grocers offer a discount for using my own bags, which I graciously accept (Whole Foods here offers a “wooden nickel” which one can put in a donation bin. No assurance they actually donate the money represented to the indicated cause, but the causes offered are usually worth a donation of some sort).

          As Keri notes, bread is usually fine if it’s at the top of the bag and won’t just fall off the bike as I pedal home.

  2. Tom Armstrong
    Tom Armstrong says:

    It’s probably old news for many of your readers, but finding used kid trailers on Craig’s List or similar sites, or in thrift stores, is great for utility. Jenn and I now have three such kid trailers (including a Trek trailer that is for sale) that we’ve found in such ways (the sweetest of the bunch is the late-1990s Burley Lite she found for $25 at Goodwill. All it needed was air in the tires.). These trailers are easy to use, and will carry about a hundred pounds of stuff. With the exception of the Trek (recently found), we’ve used ours for bike moves, grocery hauling, toting of bags and bags of bulk stuff like cat food, dog food, cat litter, bird seed, and the like. Grocery-store rental carpet cleaner? No problem at all.

    It’s fun to see what one can haul by bike!

  3. Herman F. Ebeling, Jr.
    Herman F. Ebeling, Jr. says:


    I’d like to see a picture of your coolers. I live nextdoor to the store I usually use. So I have the cashier bag my bread and eggs and hang them from my handlebars. Otherwise everything goes in the bags.

    • Herman F. Ebeling, Jr.
      Herman F. Ebeling, Jr. says:


      They look nice, would I be correct in presuming you got them in the sporting goods section? I’ve considered getting one of those “hard plastic” camping egg carriers for transporting my eggs home in. That way breakage would be less of an issue.

      Bread, would still be carried in a bag from the store, or placed in my Sunlite top/grocery bag. Light bulbs are another “fragile” item that requires care when being transported.

      Has anyone here had success on using a B.O.B. yoke on a Yakima Big Tow trailer?

  4. Rodney
    Rodney says:

    For those familiar with the ALDI s chain of grocery, I miss taking my plastic tote for shopping. I simply fill the tote, empty on the belt, reload the tote then strap onto the flatbed trailer. Ride home.

    Nothing close to me due to lack of connectivity in my area. I only get to commute for work. Not logging many miles and smiles that way.

  5. carlos lasanta "the dropout"
    carlos lasanta "the dropout" says:

    Hi! Aside from my Surly LHT, I use this for cargo:a Rans Hammertruck.

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