My Adult Trike and French-Style Grocery Shopping

Greta's adult trike with grocery bags in cargo basket, in front of produce stands

With the adult tricycle, the entire way I do grocery shopping has changed.

When I got the trike, the main thing I wanted to do with it was get groceries. The trike has a nice big cargo basket — it’s one of the main advantages over a bicycle — and I pictured myself like a quirky character in a movie, toodling around the neighborhood with grocery bags in the basket, a baguette and a bouquet of flowers poking decoratively out of the top. (Never mind the fact that I don’t like baguettes and we can’t have flowers because the cats will eat them.)

It is, weirdly, kind of like that. Life imitates art, sometimes. Except for the part where I’m still building my strength and stamina, and when the trike’s loaded with heavy groceries it can be a struggle. Sometimes I’m the cute old dyke on the tricycle gliding around the neighborhood saying Hi to people — and sometimes I’m the fat old lady straining and puffing to get up a two percent incline. It’s fine.

But I’ve had to re-think my entire strategy around grocery shopping. The cargo basket is big, but it’s not as big as, say, a car trunk. The standard American style of grocery shopping — loading up the car once a week with All The Things — just doesn’t work.

So I’ve had to switch to what I think of as the French style of marketing. Instead of doing one big shopping trip every week, I do little trips every couple of days.

It takes more planning. For one thing, when I go to multiple stores, I have to pack everything with me into every stop. If I left a grocery bag in the basket while I stopped to get flowers and baguettes, it’d be stolen in six seconds. I actually had someone try to swipe my backpack out of my cargo basket while I was on the trike. (No, I wasn’t moving: I’d pulled over to take a breather and look at my phone.) So I have to strategize. Lighter stops before heavier ones. Tortillas before produce; produce before booze.

On the other hand: If I forget something or can’t make the logistics work today, I can pick it up tomorrow. I’m not worried about getting every single thing I need on this one trip. It’s low-stress.

Does it take more time than a big weekly trip to the supermarket? Probably. But cycling is efficient in a different way. It’s transportation, exercise, and pleasure — all in one.

When I’m triking, I’m not just doing the grocery shopping. I’m also going to the gym. I’m doing my therapy homework. I’m reconnecting with my body and my community blah blah blah. And I’m having fun.

All in one ride.

None of this is prescriptive. This works for me. It might or might not work for you. I realize that I’m lucky, privileged, to be able to make this choice. I’m lucky to have the time and schedule that lets me do this; I’m lucky to live in a neighborhood with lots of different little stores.

And even with these advantages, this approach doesn’t always work. A trike basket full of produce and cereal — or baguettes and flowers — is vastly different than a trike basket full of distilled water and soda and hooch. When my shopping list is overloaded with heavy stuff, I’ve learned to give up and do Lyft or Instacart.

No real conclusion or insight here. Just nattering. If you do grocery shopping on a bike or trike, how does it change things?

My Adult Trike and French-Style Grocery Shopping

One thought on “My Adult Trike and French-Style Grocery Shopping

  1. 1

    I haven’t been able to make cycling & grocery shopping work in Columbus, but walking to the grocery is one of the things I look forward to the most when I’m out there visiting N.

    I love walking through the neighborhood— it’s very grounding. I love having the constraint of selecting only what I can carry (and tbh occasionally having little completions with myself about how much I can carry).

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