How to handle the shoes? I just order baskets and take the straps off. The front plastic part of the basket gives me something to hook against. If none of this makes sense, just skip it. Actually, at home, I don't clip in OR use a basket. I have clip in peddles and shoes. I just choose not to use them. My regular peddles have a fair amount of "mettle teeth?" on them that grip my tennis shoe. In California, I just rode in my regular sneakers. Especially when I am riding with people I do not know and on strange roads, the last thing I want is to be strapped in.
I did the same thing in Cancun. The plastic front of the cage in Cancun was a little more problematic as it could get caught in a closed position and I would have to stop and dig it out. That never happened in Claremont. After a little while, I get used to flipping the peddle and getting my foot in behind the plastic.