As I continued to ride and love the freedom and community I found on group rides and leisure trips, I decided to try to make biking a greater part of my life by making it more of a lifestyle - But where to start? How could I make the majority of my trips by bike if I couldn't carry anything? After getting more involved in the biking community with people who have such lifestyles and some personal trial and error, I found some of the following solutions:
1. Racks & Panniers
I have a back rack on my hybrid, which, when paired with a set of panniers, is a great way to carry most heavy, large, and/or awkwardly-shaped items. Panniers come in many shapes and sizes to fit any kind of look or utility you want! Front racks are another great option. Here's a really cool rack from Mio. Some, like back racks, are made to hold panniers while others look more like a tray and can hold large items (like pizza boxes) or multiple smaller items that can lay side by side.
Small trailers that attach to the seat post of the bike can be used to tow anything from small animals and children to bags of groceries. Though probably not necessary for every day errands, the trailer is a great option for bringing along children who don't yet ride or aren't comfortable riding on the road.
3. Baskets & Bicycle Bags
Baskets and bags that connect directly to the bicycle are another great option. Most baskets are detachable with small "belt buckle" straps so that they can be moved between bikes or even detached to take into a shop as a shopping basket. Some companies, such as Po Campo, also make bags that can double as purses and bike bags via small straps that wind around handlebars to provide storage similar to that of a basket. Specialty baskets even exist to carry small pets or items that may easily fall out.
4. Messenger Bags & Backpacks
When you don't have a lot to carry and want the flexibility to park the bike and easily transport things like bike maintenance tools, jackets, and other small items, backpacks and messenger bags are a great option. These are also highly customizable, cheap, and multi-functional, though a couple of drawbacks include discomfort while riding (if you're carrying heavy or oddly-shaped items) and leaving sweat stains on your back. There are a lot to choose from. Here's a great bag summary article from BikeBagShop.
5. Fanny Packs
Yes, you read that correctly. In my personal experience, for carrying small items such as IDs, credit cards, keys, and even small tubes or bike pumps, this is a great option. Especially in the summer, when larger bags will leave large sweat marks on your back, a fanny pack keeps your back clear, can be easily worn as a purse when you arrive at your destination. Some companies, such as our local ALTER Manufacturing, offer unisex options called "hip packs" that loop through your belt to rest on your hips like a fanny pack. A recent resurgence has also made a great variety of fanny packs available!