Okay maybe you won’t want to carry this much! Photo by Alain Delorme

Dani Lee, Sustainability Manager, UC Davis Dining Services, dnilee@ucdavis.edu, 559-351-4354 shares some top tips on how to transport more on your bike

So you live in Davis, right? Mostly likely, you own a bike.

If not, then stop reading and get yourself over to Bike Forth, http://www.davisbikecollective.org, a community bike collective; build that dream cruiser; then come back and read this article.

You’re probably used to hauling yourself to and from destinations on that vintage Raleigh or rocking the bike lane on your single speed cruiser. Sometimes you might find yourself in that oh-too-common situation of balancing grocery bags from each handle, or trying to carry that item in your hand while simultaneously braking for the upcoming traffic signal.

There are ways to prevent that humiliating grocery-bag-handles-breaking, produce-spilling-everywhere situation that some of us, okay admit it, many of us find ourselves in when trying to move stuff when traveling around Davis on our bikes. Why move more stuff with our bikes? Why not? Davis is flat, and the earth and your body will give you a hug for getting outdoors and on your bike and not driving your car around town for simple errands.

Here are a few solutions that our bike experts have helped us pull together to encourage you to move more with your bike – be it that 6-pack of beer to your next potluck or that new ‘used’ couch from SPCA to your living room!


If you are riding a short distance, a simple backpack will do for most small grocery store trips and campus/work commutes. Careful with the one-armed reusable grocery bags! Or those cute messenger bags that sling over one shoulder and dangle at your waist.

Maggie Gonzalez with her two children on her Yuba Mundo, available at Ken’s Bike & Ski.

These will likely fall off your back or shoulder and down your arm, often while you are cycling. Imagine this bag then getting
caught in your spokes and creating a not-so-safe situation for you, your cargo, and the cyclist or motorist next to you.

Still want to look hip with that messenger bag? Then get a real one. Chrome-brand messenger bags are great and available locally at bike stores. They don’t fall off your back and they stay secure with a seatbelt buckle across your chest and a security buckle that swings underneath your arm.

I swear by the two Chrome bags that I own – the Citizen version for my larger hauls and the Mini Metro for my regular work commute to the UC Davis campus. I don’t mind cycling around Davis or the bay area in crazy weather so the weatherproof feature of Chrome bags has saved me a few times. But waterproof bags also keep liquids in your bag, so be careful to close your coffee tumbler securely! I learned my lesson the hard way when I spilled an entire bottle of olive oil inside my waterproof Chrome bag with my laptop, camera and cell phone inside – oops!

Resources on how to move more with your bike!

Bike Racks, Panniers and Baskets

“The simplest way to get around with cargo is to buy a bike basket or a bike rack with panniers,” says DK, the City of Davis’ Active Transportation Coordinator.

Simple to install, and available from most bike shops in Davis, bike racks are great because they allow you a myriad of options once installed. Racks range from $25-$60. You might even be able to salvage a rack at Bike Forth.

I love my spring-clip rack which allows me to secure small- to medium-sized items underneath the spring loaded arm. My wooden salad bowl fits snugly and securely underneath the spring loaded arm, making me ready and safe for any potluck-bound bicycle ride, even over the infamous 4th Street railroad tracks!

Once you have your rack installed, you have seemingly endless possibilities! Racks are also great because they get things off your back and onto your bike.

Are you a super commuter? Or a grocery store errand cyclist? Get some panniers and clip them right onto the sides of your rack! Panniers can run you anywhere from $40 for a simple grocery-style bag to upwards of $400 for a super fancy touring pannier. Choose a waterproof pannier if you plan to use them in the rain.

Baskets, which can run you between $25-$80 new, can be installed directly onto your new rack, clipped onto the sides of your rack or onto your handlebars. One downside to handlebar baskets is their potential to affect your ability to steer. Baskets, like panniers, are detachable for easy toting but unlike panniers are often non-closing.  If you want to look especially cute during your next ride to Picnic in the Park, get a whicker basket and carry your bunny rabbit in it!

Not ready to drop a wad of cash on fancy panniers or baskets for your new bike rack? I’ve seen quite a few examples of repurposed materials being used as panniers or baskets – 5 gallon square buckets with holes drilled in the sides that are zip-tied to a bike rack. Milk crates attached to the top of a rack. Easy to replicate and often these containers can be found for free!

Emily Tracy hauled an empty keg across Davis with her dad’s EcoShopper BicycleR Evolution bike trailer, available at the Davis Food Co-op.

Cargo and Kid Trailers

Need to move that 5-gallon water jug? Or get three-year-old Timmy to his next play date at the Central Park jungle gym? Then you might need a bike trailer!

“Local bike shops offer a variety of bicycle trailers to carry your precious cargo (children & pets) and non-precious cargo (laundry, groceries, books, etc.),” says DK.  When shopping for a new/used trailer, the important thing is finding a trailer that can easily attach to and detach from the frame. Most trailers can attach to your bicycle seat post or chainstay, the part of the frame that connects from where the pedals attach to the back wheel. Some require installing a hitch onto your back drop-out, where your back wheel attaches. Typical trailers can carry up to 100 pounds of cargo.

The Davis Food Co-op sells a sturdy EcoShopper BicycleR Evolution bike trailer available for about $129. Emily Tracy of Davis Bicycles! and project coordinator for Walkable and Livable Communities borrowed her father’s EcoShopper trailer to return an empty keg of beer – about 40lbs – to Sudwerks after a house party. “We made a pit stop at the grocery store on the way,” says Emily, “and added a week’s worth of groceries in the trailer with the keg.”

Burley is one of the most popular brands for bicycle trailers, especially those used to haul kids. Burleys typically run between $280 for a simple trailer (fits 2 kids or up to 100 pounds) upwards to $630 for their deluxe trailer which is packed full of added features and extra space to carry not just the kids but your groceries, too! Burley trailers keep your child safely strapped in the trailer and are covered in reflective tape.

Trailer Bikes

Timmy is now 5 years old and can cycle on his own, but can’t possibly keep up during a ‘long’ ride with dad to the Farmers Market. Keep him active and not sitting in a child trailer by investing in a trailer bike, a back-half of a small bicycle that attaches to the seat post of dad’s bike and allows Timmy to cycle along. Trailer bikes are also available in tandem so two children can be in tow behind an adult. A single Trail-A-Bike brand trailer bike will be about $250 while a tandem will cost you upwards of $580.

Don’t stop with just the trailer bike when hauling your kids around Davis! “I like seeing parents attach a trailer bike to their bicycle followed by a bicycle trailer,” says DK.

XtraCycles and Yuba Bicycles

XtraCycle created what they call a long tail bicycle that can carry up to 300lbs. The XtraCycle rides like a bike and has various accessories that can customize your hauling experience – be it for everyday groceries, hauling kids or hauling your newly salvaged bookshelf! You can even get a special addition to turn your XtraCycle into a bicycle-powered  Fender Blender – perfect for making smoothies to fuel you up after you burn off all those calories hauling stuff across Davis! XtraCycles are a bicycle that has built-in hauling capacity. They are available at the starting cost of $350.

Yuba Bicycles, a Northern California company, also makes cargo bikes with extended frames similar to the XtraCycle. Maggie Gonzales carries her two kids around on a Yuba Mundo Cargo Bike, staring around $1,200 and available locally at Kens Bike & Ski in Davis.

Work Bikes for Serious Hauling

Need to haul something more than 400 pounds, like three kegs of homebrew beer to your next gathering? There are options for that as well!

If you’ve been on campus in the past five years, you might have seen Mike Griffith of the UC Davis Grounds Department riding a blue and gold three-wheeled, flatbed bike to haul equipment, green waste, or trash. Back in 2007, he co-wrote a proposal to get a campus sustainability grant which provided funding to purchase the work-bike. Mike’s bike cost just over $3,400, and was custom built by Main Street Pedicabs. The cargo trailer on the bike can hold up to 600 pounds. Mike switched out his gas-powered cart for the human-powered work bike to save his campus department money and reduce air pollution and natural resource consumption.

My Dutch Bike is a San Francisco based company that imports Dutch Cargo bikes, also known as work cycles. The Bakefiets model is a great family bike that can be used to transport children, haul compost to your community garden plot or general grocery shopping.

Hauling and Bike Safety

Regardless of whether you are hauling things behind you or not, bike safety is always important when cycling around. Here are a few tips from DK on how to ensure the safety of you, your cargo and other cyclists and motorists as you are hauling cargo with your bike.

  • Make sure to have a 360 degree awareness of what’s around you when bicycling.
  • Be careful not to take turns too quickly
  • Install tail lights on the back of the trailer
  • Make sure your children wear helmets while riding in the trailer and are properly buckled into the trailer.
  • When hauling cargo, don’t overload the trailer.
  • Ride with about 30 psi (pounds per square inch) in the trailer tires if you are carry heavy loads and remember your braking time will be slower.

Move Your House With Your Bike

Need some additional inspiration to move more with your bike? Robb and Nancy Davis of Davis, CA used solely bike power to haul items between houses during their move back in November of 2010. With the help of 17 of their friends, numerous trailers and work bikes, and beer and pizza at the end of the day to incentivize the hard work, Robb and Nancy were able to move most of the items into their new home in just over three hours!

“We had a Bikes-at-Work trailer; we had Burley trailers of various configurations; we had old-style trailers that attach to the seat post; we had some homemade trailers; we had a PediCab work bike that we borrowed from Village Homes,” said Robb and Nancy about their move. “We also had a Dutch Bakfiets, an XtraCycle and some of Peter Wagner’s homemade designs that are hard to describe but quite well adapted to moving large pieces of furniture.”

What was the hardest thing for Robb and Nancy to move?

“Our queen size box spring and mattress was the hardest thing to move,” said Robb and Nancy, “Peter Wagner had a large bike that was able to accommodate that, otherwise that would’ve been difficult.”

One way to get your fill of bicycles will be at the Cool Davis Festival on Saturday, October 13 at the Farmers Market.  Third Street will be closed between B and C Streets to explore all types of alternative transportation along with ways to make getting where you want to go easier.  As always, Davis Bicycles! and the Davis Bicycle Collective will offer bike maintenance tips and safety checks, along with fun bicycle-related activities for kids and the young at heart. Various bike vendors will be on hand with the latest in all-purpose biking. And of course, folks can try out the large variety of Whymcycles.