If you’ve been thinking about using your bicycle to go shopping or to commute to work, but wondered how how you’ll carry everything, here’s something that works for me: the “grocery bag pannier.” These carrying devices, which attach to a standard rear rack, are the size of a standard paper grocery bag and have a semi-rigid frame that allows easy access. They also have a detachable shoulder strap when you want to carry the pannier around while you do your shopping.
The biggest advantage of the grocery bag pannier over a backpack or a standard bicycle pannier is that it has no top. This allows one to easily carry long produce, like my recent purchases of two three-foot long bunches of fennel and a two-foot long bunch of leeks.
Variations on the grocery bag pannier are available from several sources, including REI, Jandd Mountaineering, Inc. and Missing Link in Berkeley.