Where should a cyclist secure his valuables before entering a store that forbids carrying bags into the building?

Normally, when cycling, I carry my wallet and phone in the small compartment of a backpack, and I carry my shopping home in the large compartment. I have occasionally carried large or heavy things home by securing a bag to my bike's rack using bungee cords. I've considered buying grocery panniers to hang on my bike's rack, but I prefer to carry my backpack with me while inside a building because I fear that opportunist burglars will open an unlocked bag left on a bicycle and steal its contents.

But today (2017-09-11), on the front door of the Salvation Army Family Store at the corner of Fairfield Ave and Jefferson Blvd in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was a sign forbidding carrying bags into the store. The manager, when asked, refused to either give an exception for cyclists or recommend a secure place for cyclists to store their bags while shopping, on grounds that the manager had to reimburse another customer for a backpack and contents thereof that had been left in the store's former bag check and subsequently stolen. When pressed for an alternative, the manager said something to the effect "I can't tell you how to live your life" and actually recommended that I leave my bag outside unattended. I imagine that this would prove even more attractive to thieves. So I did not enter the store, and I did not spend money in the store.

Is there a practical way for a cyclist to shop safely in a store like this? Answers to "Ever seen a locking bag that could be locked to the bike?" look expensive; I had wanted to avoid spending a fortune that defeats the purpose of shopping at a thrift store in the first place. Or should a cyclist just review this store in as many places as possible (Yelp, etc.) as being impractical for cyclists?

  • 1
    I don't "report" them. I don't patronize them either.
    – Adam Rice
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 20:05
  • 3
    If they don't want to accommodate you then move on.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Sep 11, 2017 at 21:11
  • 1
    Remember the people you're dealing with may have been handed an impossible or awkward instruction from management. They're generally normal people too so try to not be mad at the messenger.
    – Criggie
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 5:28
  • 1
    I'd go to another place, just as simple as that!
    – Carel
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 8:03
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because its not a problem specific to cyclists.
    – mattnz
    Commented Sep 13, 2017 at 1:01

4 Answers 4


There's not much you can do, other than have everything important on your person and leaving stuff that you'd be okay with being stolen on the bike. For example, you could leave your panniers (empty) on the bike, and if you're worried about someone grabbing them and dashing, put a small cable + padlock through them when you're in the shop. How useful this will be will depend on where you live.

Shops are under no requirement to accommodate people's bags or provide lock up areas or things like that (and certainly, cyclists aren't a protected class and you would not expect special rules for them), and this policy is not unusual for many places. Alternative systems like having temporary lockers (like in a gym where you set a combo each time, or use a coin to get a key) wouldn't last in a post 9/11 world or fear of people duplicating keys in the US, along with the expense of implementation and having someone to deal with it (e.g. someone getting locked out). So, in fact, I think this approach is completely reasonable on the store's part.

You could complain to management, leave a review or tell your friends not to shop there.

Aside from that, move on with your life. If you want to shop there, maybe take a car next time or a bus or something.


If you feel this is a condition you will run into frequently consider a Pacsafe or similar device. Pacsafe or (an alternative brand) is a mesh bag made of steel cables. They are most commonly used by backpackers to secure their gear. You could insert you backpack into the bag and then secure it to your bike or the post, bike rack, tree etc that you are securing your bike to.


You want to carry you items when you riding, you considered panniers, but discarded the idea in preference to a back pack. Pedestrians are allowed to carry small bags and bags containing shopping into the shop in question.

Consider what you would do if you had panniers. You would either lock the bike and leave items in the panniers, or lock the the bike and take the items out of the panniers and carry them with you, exactly the same as if you were a pedestrian.

If you use a backpack instead of panniers, you lock the back pack to the bike, leaving the items in the backpack (use a PAcsafe as mentioned by @mikes), or take the shopping bags out of the backpack, lock the empty backpack to the bike and walk into the shop, exactly the same as if you were using panniers and exactly the same as a pedestrian.

  • "Pedestrians are allowed to carry small bags and bags containing shopping into the shop in question." Do you represent this shop? Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 17:44
  • That came from you very own comment.
    – mattnz
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 21:47
  • My comment referred to other shops, not this shop. I apologize for my prior failure to be specific. Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 23:03
  1. use 2+ bags. A small handlebar bag in which you carry your valuables (phone, wallet, etc.) and the number of panniers you feel is necessary to bring your purchases back home. Bring the handlebar bag inside, as if it were a purse.

  2. You can probably lock the panniers by threading the locking cable thru the pannier(s) handle(s).

More generally, stealing panniers or their contents doesn't seem to be frequent.

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