Shopping on foot

Some have recently suggested that people should be consolidating grocery shopping, doing just one big trip per week, to cut down on petrol usage. I’ve done the opposite — I’ve started doing more trips to the supermarket, on foot. This is helped by the fact that since I’ve moved, the supermarket is only about 5 minutes walk from home. In fact with looking for parking, it would probably take as long to drive as it does to walk. So if I can restrain myself and only buy two (green) bags-worth of stuff each time, I can do it all on foot.

The checkout chicks/blokes don’t know this, of course, so sometimes they pack stuff in such a way that one bag is very light, and the other heavy. A little re-arranging is then necessary to ensure I won’t end up with one arm longer than the other.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

21 replies on “Shopping on foot”

I was lucky enough to spend 2 weeks in Amsterdam this year. People there have small kitchens with few cupboards and small fridges so shop every day, buying a few items at a time. Guess how they get to the supermarket? (Ans: walk or bike – even mums with 2 kids in tow). How many fat Dutch people did I see? (Ans: not many!)
Maybe it will occur to planners in Melbourne to connect people with shops/services and we’d all be healthier. Daniel, you are setting a good example!!

i do that too… but i also take a backpack and load it with the heavy stuff so i get a bit more of a workout… (my market is a 15 min walk).

Dunno if the planners could achieve it when businesses really have the say. There used to be two small supermarkets within 5 minutes’ walk of my house 20 years ago but now they are closed, replaced by large supermarkets further away.

I do all my shopping on me bike. I have a plastic hobby box (NOT a milk-crate) permanently attached to the rear carrier. I also use a back-pack. I just have to be careful not to buy too much heavy/bulky stuff in one trip. I know it all makes me look like an wakko, but who cares? (my wife for one!). I should build a bike trailer to really complete the image.

Peter to look a real wakko, you need to do much more than that (at least around here; at Brighton you can get away with less).

Add a mangy dog + empty VB cans in the trailer, some peeling gaffa tape around the bike frame, some old elastic around your trouser legs, a holey beanie on an uncombed bearded head, a mis-tuned AM radio blaring out 3AW and you’ll be fine!

I’ve been doing similar. The supermarket I walk to is 35 mins away, so in the heat I can’t buy anything from the fridge or freezer, but a small stock up is worth the walk. Plus it gives me the exercise and Bertie the fresh air from his plush pram seat!

When I was in Brisbane I tracked down one of those smallish pull-along shopping trolley things (1ft by 2ft by 3ft plus handle and wheels??), did it up in some interesting material (it was a hideous brown tartan before), and walked most of the time – perhaps 10 minutes’ walk to the shops. Pulling something along is *much* easier than trying to carry even green/own bags, especially in hilly Brisso. Oh, and it would fit in my car if absolutely necessary, and would also fit on the bus.

It held enough for a decent-sized grocery-store visit, so I could go shopping 1/wk or 3/fortn. I had to keep retraining the checkout people to leave out the plastic bagging, though, and I got mighty fast and good at packing it myself.

So if you *really* want to cultivate the zany look (or look like a bagman/baglady/wakko), get and perhaps customise a trolley/jeep. You could get many different sizes in the hardware store in Preston a couple of years ago.

The other good thing about this style of shopping is that you aren’t trying to guess menus 6 days in advance and tend to waste less food. Nothing irks me more than having to throw out past expiry or mildewed stuff.

Recently I was on a bus at Oakleigh (in Melbourne) when a non-English speaking fellow brought a supermarket trolley onto the bus. The driver got on the two-way radio to check the rules then asked the chap to get off.

He somehow managed to get it on the bus via the side door (I think). It was one of those low-rider buses. He was taking up most of the room just inside the door.

Flerde, if current trends persist, a shopping trolley on a bus isn’t that outlandish in say 10 years.

Consider the upsizing of 4WDs, walking frames replacing sticks, electric wheelchairs replacing manual wheelchairs and the popularity of large prams/pushers.

At one time the latter were light things that parents were expected to fold up. In this respect at least we’ve become more parent-friendly and no longer expect pushers to be folded (though too many sedentary pusher rides is not necessarily good for the child).

Also, given our ageing society, the unprotected pedestrian could well become a rarity on our footpaths in some areas.

PS: Peter where people come from areas where the car is less pervasive, I can imagine that it would be second-nature for people to take more/bigger things on PT than they might here.

Because Melbourne has a larger carless lumpenproletariot than Canberra, I’ve noticed small differences of this nature here as well.

I might note that when I lived in Hawthorn 12ish years ago, and didn’t have a car, the weekly shop was done using a wire shopping trolley and a tram ride to Safeway Camberwell. It took two of us to load the trolley onto the tram, mind you.

Umm.. a shopping trolley on a bus? What route was it?

On the subject of trolleys, it isn’t so uncommon to find trolleys from Safeway at Box Hill Central abandoned on the platform at Box Hill station. How they get them down there, I don’t know, as you would have to take it through the Metcard barriers and into the lift to get it down there. What would the barrier attendant say if you asked “Um, can you open the gate so I can get my Safeway trolley thru?” I wonder.

Also on the subject of trolleys, once while using Mont Albert station, there were two Safeway trolleys, and one Coles trolleys abandoned outside the entry to the station. The nearest Coles and Safeway supermarkets are both at Box Hill, so I presume someone brought them there on the train.

I’d love to walk to the shops to do my shopping, but I’m NOT walking an hour each way to do so. Heh. There’s just nothing around here that’s nearby. However, we only do the shopping once a week, so… it’s fair.

The attempted supermarket trolley bus trip was on a Ventura 700 heading north from Oakleigh railway station.

Walking also gives you the opportunity to support your local shops and not to go to the supermarket at all. You know, fruit & veg that has a flavour and meat that has been correctly aged.

More power to the person who did the bus trip with the trolley. Occationly where I live, my house mate does the same thing with his shopping jeep. I should say that he hasn’t done it for a while. We’ve got a resivoir bus company bus that runs from Victoria road around to Northcote plaza. We all refur to it around here as the white bus. The drivers don’t have an issue with shopping jeeps on the low riding busses.

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