One of the great things about New York City is that you can choose to walk, bike, or take the train to practically anywhere in the five boroughs. Car culture does not dominate in this bustling domain. I started cycling to and from work about four years ago with the intention of being more conscious of my carbon footprint and clocking in a bit of a workout between my busy schedule — not to mention that the New York City subway system is not the most reliable or pleasant experience. With the new routine, I had to rethink what I wore — including flared pants, which often get caught in the bike chain — along with the bag I chose for biking.
On or off two wheels, I didn’t want to compromise style for function, especially since most days I attend work events and meetings. I just had to get creative about the design and size of the bag depending on where I was headed. Half the week, when I go into the office, I have my laptop with me so my preference has been a backpack for biking. But on days when I’m bouncing between appointments and a work lunch, I like to default with a crossbody or belt bag as they’re quite compact and I typically don’t like to carry a lot of things.
If you’re curious about cycling for your next commute, the communal Citi Bike in NYC comes with a front basket which fits any reasonably sized bag. But if you’re more serious about committing to cycling as a mode of transportation, check out the different types of designer bags below that’ll surely tick the boxes of style and function.
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I have been eyeing this Prada nylon backpack for decades — the first time as a wide-eyed teen in the ‘90s and again when I started biking in the city. The medium size comfortably fits my MacBookPro, a wallet, and a few other mini essentials, making this a great investment bag that I know I’ll use for years on end. The backpack is ideal for days when you have more to lug around; just make sure to tighten the straps so that it’s snug against your back and doesn’t bounce back and forth with each push of the pedal.
Once trendy, now a mainstay, the belt bag comes in varying designs, fabrics, and colors beyond the ubiquitous black. Some can be worn like a sling, providing easy access to grab your phone at the red light; while others can be worn around the waist. For the waist bags, I would recommend adjusting the bag portion to the back so that it doesn’t hinder your movement while biking.
The crossbody bag is definitely the most statement-making and bountiful option out of the group. The trick here is to make sure that the strap isn’t too long. I tend to wear a crossbody bag for shorter commutes and on days with a less packed schedule.
I couldn’t write a story about cycling without including panniers. They may not be designer handbags like the ones included above, but if you’re truly planning to cycle everywhere you go, a pannier is in your near future. A pannier attaches to the bike, typically to the rear, allowing for a stable balance with the added weight. There are even ones that work both as a laptop bag and a pannier, just detach and strap over your shoulder. The options are endless.