The Farmer’s Market-Shopping by Bicycle

For almost 15 years I have been shopping by bicycle at the Alameda Farmer’s Market almost every Tuesday, rain or shine.

Home with produce: strawberries, scones, flowers, and more, July 17, 2012.

I discovered Alameda’s weekly farmer’s market just after we moved to Alameda in 1997. It was smaller then and  at the Taylor and Webster parking lot, but it soon became our primary food source, especially for fresh produce.

Here’s how I do it. (You can, too.)

I shop the Tuesday Farmer’s Market by bicycle, using canvas shopping bags, recycling food containers (plastic berry trays, half-flat strawberry boxes), and washing and reusing plastic produce bags, too. Riding my bike is easier than driving (no parking hassles) and makes shopping simpler: my bike is centrally located inside the market.

After locking my bike with a Kryptonite New York U-lock, I often stop in at Wescafe first with my travel mug for a cup of tasty (and necessary) caffeine first–a tip for the household’s designated shopper. Then I load up on tasty fruits, vegetables, and baked goods, canvas shopping bag and Timbuk2 Messenger Bag (size L) on my shoulder.

Beckmann’s Bakery: resistance is futile, especially to their pies.

I make several rounds of the market–on foot–to see what’s good and decide on the menus. I  load heavier, denser items (oranges, celery, potatoes, scones) in the Jandd grocery bag panniers up front first, balancing the weight evenly side-to-side. I usually buy and load more delicate and/or cold items (berries, stone fruits, tomatoes, flowers, fish, frozen enchiladas) after later  passes around the market, stopping occasionally to unload my shoulder bag into the panniers. (Frequent consultation via mobile phone ensures domestic satisfaction with my results.:-)

Depending on Linda’s preferences, what we need, and how the produce-based menu develops, I make my purchases, socialize, and enjoy the live music: I always see friends, neighbors, colleagues, great bikes, and wonderful kids.

If I fill up both front and rear panniers (some call them saddle bags) on my 1970s Peugeot  UO-18 “mixte” town bike, we eat really well for a week. The 1.8-mile trip from our mid-island apartment takes about 12 minutes each way. (It’s almost easier coming home loaded with food: there’s always a tailwind.)

My “shopping rig” (front and rear racks with panniers) is decked out with brightly colored and reflective gear. I always wear my high-visibility helmet, gloves, and safety vest, of course. And I always take the lane when necessary (on Encinal, Central, Eighth) and “ride the paint” at the left-hand edge of bike lanes to avoid the 5-foot-wide door zone next to all parked cars.

Taking the left lane after a left turn, ready to turn into our driveway. Lots of hi-viz gear ensures I can be seen day, night, or fog.

The year-round Alameda Farmer’s Markets are on Tuesdays and Saturdays, rain or shine, 9 AM to 1 PM, at Webster and Haight.


BART’S Bike Pilot Project begins next Friday, August 3. For the 5 Fridays in August there will be no bike blackouts: bikes will be allowed on all BART trains and on all BART station platforms. (I wrote about it here.)

Here’s more from the East Bay Bicycle Coalition on the BART pilot in August.


4 thoughts on “The Farmer’s Market-Shopping by Bicycle

  1. hi! saw your note about this post on the bikealameda facebook page. thanks! i’ve been living in alameda for three months and didn’t even realize there was a farmers market here. i rode up from the deep east end on tuesday. coffee at wescafe and some real nice fruit from a couple of stands. thank you for taking the time to write about it! one question: do you really think you need that level of bikelock security out here?

    • Joe,

      Thanks for your kind words. I love the Tuesday market and have a great time every week.

      Do I really think you need that level of bikelock security out here?

      ABSOLUTELY! Cables–any cables–can be cut in a few seconds using easily available common tools, and we have the local bike theft reports to prove it. Alameda is a great place to live but our community is often targeted by bike thieves…

      I serve on the BART Bicycle Advisory Task Force and see the daily theft reports. BART now recommends that you use TWO good U-locks: one through the front wheel, the bike frame, and around an immovable post; a second U-lock goes around the rear wheel, frame, and the immovable object/post/bike rack.

      Far too many people depend on cheaply made and inexpensive cable locks or lightweight chains that thieves can quickly destroy. Having lost 6 bikes to theft–and only ever recovered one of them–I hate to see anyone else suffer that kind of emotional and monetary loss.

      Buy one–or two–GOOD U-locks, the kind that offer $1500 of insurance or more. Register it/them with the manufacturer (no insurance without registration), save the key number in a safe place, and use the U-lock(s) religiously.Please.

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