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Don’t bike to the grocery store? Oregonian says you’re a sinner

Posted by on April 7th, 2008 at 2:40 pm

OR Bike Summit - Ride-5.jpg
Going by bike; it’d be a sin not to.
(Photo © J. Maus)

In yet another sign of biking’s ascent into the mainstream, not biking was on a list of “distinctly Oregon sins” published by the Oregonian on Saturday.

In an article that appeared on the front page of the O’s Living section, reporter Nancy Haught decided to follow the Vatican’s lead and add a few new sins to the official list of Seven Deadly Sins.

Along with “drinking instant coffee” and “refusing to sort your recyclables” was a bike-related sin that caught my eye. According to Haught, in Oregon, “Not commuting to work, shuttling kids, schlepping groceries or transporting furniture on a bike” is a sin.

Fittingly, the the article came out the same day as the Oregon Bike Summit.

Read the full article here.

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  • Richard S April 7, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    I walk to the grocery store. Does that mean I\’m a sinner?

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  • tonyt April 7, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    No Richard, walking is old-school holy. Like going to a latin mass ;-)

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  • toddistic April 7, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    walking is the new fixed gear

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  • Coaster April 7, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    fixed walking?
    Is that when you tie your shoelaces together and hop?

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  • Jordan April 7, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Where is \”Pedestrian Critical Mass\” or \”Foot Jousting\” where is the \”Walk Culture\” in town?

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  • peterL April 7, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    fixed walking died with fix-push skateboarding. it\’s so last year…

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  • toddistic April 7, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    \”Is that when you tie your shoelaces together and hop?\”

    the concept of fixed gear drive train would be analogous to walking, your legs are always moving. the escalator the equivelent of the modern freewheel cog.

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  • Christian April 7, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Very nice article by Nancy over there at the \’O.\’ Where\’s \”not ride public transportation\”?!

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  • felix April 7, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    The real sin is reading the Oregonian.

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  • Tall Mike April 7, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    I can\’t remember the last time I actually drove to the grocery store. It seems so easy to do it by bike once you get used to it. However, in conversations with other Portland bikers, most would say that is one place they do not regularly bike to, is the grocery store. They can\’t figure out how to carry 30 or 40 pounds of groceries home on your bike – especially if you\’re buying for a family. Where is the Oregonian getting their info from?

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  • Russell April 7, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    ^^ One day I forgot I had 35lbs of cat litter on my back rack and stood up to pedal hard across the street, next thing I knew I heard the wonderful sound of plastic being dragged across pavement. Since then, I\’ve ceased using bungee cords and use some P-Cord w/a trucker\’s hitch to secure heavy loads. I, however, completely understand that with breakables it becomes much harder when you\’re feeding a family.

    Living in an apartment I can\’t easily keep a bike trailer at my place so the one thing I can\’t do by bike (or haven\’t figured out how to) is take back my 4 large garbage bags of bottles to Freddies . . . maybe I should just drink less beer? or take them back more often . . .

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  • Michael M. April 7, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    I never feel more out-of-step with my fellow Portlanders than when going to the grocery store, and not because my shoelaces are untied or tied together. Despite the fact that the Trader Joe\’s I shop at is located directly across the street from a transit center, the vast majority of people drive there and the parking lot is almost always full or nearly so. (In fact, I was told by a member of the staff that the key reason the store moved to its new, larger location a few blocks from the old location wasn\’t so much for the extra floor space but for the much larger parking lot.) The staff there, and every other store in my neighborhood, seem to presume implicitly that I\’ve arrived by car, leading sometimes to questions like \”Would you like a bag?\” when I\’m buying less than a bag-full of items. Then there are those too-large paper bags — they might be more environmentally friendly than plastic, but try lugging one stuffed full of groceries 8 blocks in the rain. It\’s touch-and-go whether the bag will hold up. I try to bring my own bag, but often I\’m just stopping in to pick up a few things on my way home from the MAX station and I don\’t have it with me.

    Grocery shopping here is one of the times I\’m most keenly aware that I have left NYC, where the implicit assumption is that you did not do something so silly and unnecessary as drive to the supermarket, and your groceries are packed accordingly, or where you can pay a small fee to have your groceries delivered, which most of the stores do by bicycle.

    Portland has a long way to go.

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  • Antonio Gramsci April 7, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Hmm. I\’ve long since concluded that this sort of thing doesn\’t do cyclists any favors at all, whatever the intentions may be. Any kind of self-righteousness or appearance of \”special favors\” towards one group of road users over another can only result in harming the minority that is receiving those apparent \”favors.\”

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  • Citizen Gregg April 7, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    Yikes, it\’s a JOKE. Quit taking it so seriously. Did anybody actually read the list?

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  • mark April 7, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    It would be ridiculous for me to drive to the grocery store (if I had a car, that is) since I live three blocks from Whole Oats, Wild Foods, whatever it is, and Freddy\’s is just down the street, too. Although when I get a Zipcar for other errands or whatever, I do load up on groceries. It is nice to get more than just a back pack or small basket\’s worth of things in one trip. otherwise I\’m at the store nearly every day, which always leads to more unnecessary impulse buys.

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  • Paul Cone April 7, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Let\’s hear it for NYC and its car traffic which forces the issue, resulting in congestion pricing and bike deliveries for groceries. Car drivers have it too easy here in the wide open, sprawling West.

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  • Joe April 7, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    I knew some force pushed me to convert my cross bike to a single gear.. LOL

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  • glasnost or something April 7, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Citizen Gregg:

    I concur.

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  • Brett April 7, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    After 20+ years of living and riding in NYC, the idea of 30+lbs of groceries to carry on a bike would rarely occur. Apartments are so small and citizens tend to eat out often. I can say from experience, that most NYC refrigerators are only filled with a 6-pack, bottled water and some left over Chinese food take out. My standard bike (6 were stolen) was a 1-speed cruiser with a big front basket and a 40lb chain. If you needed more gear you were going too fast.

    Now, I ride a 3-speed cruiser, with the same big basket. I can get 4 bags in basket. Can only suggest to all to buy the 4-pack of toilet paper instead of the 12-pack.

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  • Zaphod April 7, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I have recently built up an Extracycle which allows me to buy a solid carload full of groceries and have it be a fun outing versus a dreaded chore. We\’re really starting to see dust and leaves pile up on the car these days.

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  • Aaron April 7, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Well I always bike to the grocery, but I think I once wore Adidas onto the Nike campus. Therefore I\’m goin ta Hell.

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  • Greg April 7, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    @11 – Russell, I feel your pain. The Kogswell list had a very in-depth examination of this serious challenge facing our nation and decided to have a contest somewhat similar to but mostly unlike the X prize (the X prize did not involve beer.)

    The results are posted here:

    http://www.flickr.com/groups/641642@N25/pool/

    Summary – the outlook is excellent for a new generation of brew-carrying bicycles…

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  • boib April 8, 2008 at 12:40 am

    I drive my Hummer one block to the grocery store to buy a jar of peanut butter. It usually takes me 45 minutes to find a parking spot, and I leave the motor running.

    I mean, how could I not? What if it didn\’t start again?

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  • The Green Redneck April 8, 2008 at 7:02 am

    I ride on errands in Vancouver–I\’m an apostate over here; \”Thou shalt drive thy giant 4×4 with little chrome fish on the ass end that proclaims my idiocy to do even the most trivial journey.\”

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  • todd April 8, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Maybe change zoning laws to force grocery stores to build smaller stores and encourage them to locate in more neighborhoods so its easier to get there by bike for the common person. Maybe force minimarkets (Schlitz and a candy bar anyone?) to stock an array of actual food. The New Seasons parking lots just get more and more crowded…

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  • jeff April 8, 2008 at 8:15 am

    I\’d like to see more bike parking space at grocery stores. Most of my weekly food shopping happens on the weekend, along with everyone else. Parking a bike is a hassle enough, but the trailer makes it really hard. I\’ve taken to parking a few blocks away and locking to a pole.

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  • 2GOAT April 8, 2008 at 8:20 am

    I lived in Manhattan for 8 years and didn’t have a bike or car. Public transit is so available there any other vehicle is an inconvenience. Grocery shopping trips were accomplished with an old fashion folding wire “granny basket”. You could purchase products thru out the city and haul ‘em home with one of those. Believe it or not, by a per-capita energy consumption measure… New York city is one of the greenest cities in the US.
    I did miss having a vegetable garden and being able to ride my bike.

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  • Citizen Gregg April 8, 2008 at 9:08 am

    I second the Xtracycle! That thing changed my whole experience with bike practicality.

    Now if only somebody can do something about those damn hills and their evil partner, gravity.

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  • Dag April 8, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Most bicycles available in the US seem pretty impractical for grocery shopping. I don\’t understand why there aren\’t more bikes available that come with fenders & racks, generator lighting, full chain cases and internally geared hubs. Does any major US bike company even have such a model?

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  • John April 8, 2008 at 10:04 am

    In response to Dag, While they\’re not US bike companies I was recently looking at Bianchi\’s Brilante and Rubino as well as Giant\’s Trans Sport and Trans Send. They meet some of your requirements. I\’m favoring the Trans Sport right now as I like the heavy duty front and rear racks.

    Currently I find Grocery Bag Panniers and a rear rack work quite well for grocery shopping. I also get a lot of strange looks as I leave the parking lot with a load of groceries on the back on my bike. Of course I live in Washington Co where Big SUVs that take up two parking spaces seem to be the norm.

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  • Duncan April 8, 2008 at 10:45 am

    There are many bikes for many things. My CAAD 8 will go far and fast, but its grocery carrying capabilities are, sadly limited to what fits in a pack. I ride it to the store sometimes, and its like taking a sports car to church, but that is an exchange I make.

    My jamis on the other hand is a fun little grocery getter- gears enough to be quick, with the back rack and white buckets it will haul enough stuff to feed me for a week- notice that internal gears, chain gaurds, wheel generators are mentioned- NONE of these things help getting groceries, but rather are part of an aestetic that some prefer.

    Sadly the jamis is going tbe retired because I have found i prefer drop bars, and stored until my son grows into it… sometime next week most likely.

    Russel- drink canned beer?

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  • Opus the Poet April 8, 2008 at 11:24 am

    I have been looking at the Surly Big Dummy with the Pugsley fork as a vehicle to transport the recyclables from my church to the recycling centers around town. The combination of the large load capacity and fat tires (26 X 3\”) would allow us to move our \”stuff\” very easily as there are no actual hills on any of the routes, just some gentle inclines. Now all we have to do is shake the money required for the purchase loose from whereever it will have to come from.

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  • girl on a bike April 8, 2008 at 11:30 am

    I do most of our household\’s grocery shopping trips by bike (using my sturdy Bridgestone touring bike), usually filling my two big Ortleib panniers to the brim and leaving them open at the top in case I pick up any plants that need to peek out. They\’re just like giant grocery bags when used that way. It can be a hard haul–I weigh all of 115 lbs, so it\’s a lot of work. I think the worst part is how heavy the bike gets, and how hard it becomes to balance it once the panniers are on the rack. But it\’s fun somehow, and it always feels like quite an accomplishment to take one of those big \”just got paid!\” trips to the store every couple of weeks and not touch the car. I use a trailer for larger things, like going to the nursery for big bags of potting soil.

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  • DJ Hurricane April 8, 2008 at 11:44 am

    But seriously, one of the best things I ever did was buy a house close to a grocery store.

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  • Dag April 8, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Sure they help getting groceries. Among my biggest complaints for grocery shopping on my bike are that it takes several minutes to get prepared to ride. This is because: I have to remove my lights so they don\’t get stolen (generator lights) and I have to roll up my pant leg or choose clothing that doesn\’t get caught (chain guard, which requires single speed or internal gears). I bet I\’d cut my grocery store trip time by at least 3 minutes with those upgrades.

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  • Duncan April 8, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    my light comes off in three seconds and my pant leg rolls up in two… I am sorry you are unable to perform these tasks in a reasonable amount of time… and even if it did my 21 speed would still beat you there and back.

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  • annefi April 8, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Citizen Gregg: Stoke Monkey

    Dag: Breezer makes bikes fulfilling your wish list. See Uptown 8 and Villager, for a start (at the top of their line up).

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  • Dag April 9, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Breezer\’s bikes ( http://www.breezerbikes.com/ ) don\’t have a complete chain case, just a guard. Also they\’re lacking something in the aesthetics department IMO. The Batavus Old Dutch is a good example of what I\’m on about, also this one: http://www.fietsfabriek.nl/pages_eng/pmduo.htm

    In any case, US bikes are most all designed for sport, not practical day-to-day transportation, and it shows.

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  • Duncan April 9, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    whatever Dag, my bike works fine for me, just stay to the right when i pass ok?

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