Although Amtrak serves Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Rome, Amsterdam, and Albany along the Erie Canalway Trail and Fort Edward and Whitehall on the Champlain Canalway Trail, bikes cannot be rolled onto trains as they can in other parts of the country. Inclusion of bicycle racks on Amtrak trains would make it easier for cycling tourists to experience the Canalway Trail System, increase Amtrak ridership, and bring additional revenues to local lodging, attractions, and restaurants. Cycling advocates and elected officials are working hard to make bikes on trains happen.
A hopeful sign – bike racks for new baggage cars
There is positive news for cyclists wishing to take a bike on an Amtrak train in the Northeast Corridor. Newly-designed baggage cars will be placed into service this year on long-distance routes. The new baggage cars will contain bike racks so bikes will no longer need to be boxed to be placed on these trains. Presently there is no timetable for when these new baggage cars could be included on the Lake Shore Limited trains that run between New York City and Chicago along the Canalway Trail corridor.
2013 test runs set the stage for possible pilot service in 2014
In response to three test runs of roll-on service during the summer of 2013 and broad public and elected official support, a task force, which includes Amtrak, Adventure Cycling Association, and state bicycle organization representatives, has been meeting to examine all aspects of roll-on bike service . Advocates hope that these meetings will result in the institution of a pilot service on selected routes within the Northeast Corridor. The task force report is expected soon.
The special test runs in 2013 were organized by the New York Bicycling Coalition to raise awareness of the issue and demonstrate to Amtrak and the NYS Department of Transportation that there is considerable interest in roll-on service. Cyclists, including Parks & Trails New York’s Rohan Parikh, brought their bikes along for a ride on an Adirondack and an Ethan Allen train serving the Champlain Canalway Trail as well as a Maple Leaf train serving the Erie Canalway Trail corridor. On each train, the café car was outfitted with racks that accommodated four bicycles. During their journey, cyclists were asked to fill out a survey to provide feedback to Amtrak on the service and several methods for securing bikes to the train car wall.
“We applaud Amtrak’s renewed interest in roll-on roll-off service for cyclists. We look forward to working with all the involved parties to improve rail travel with bicycles so even more people can easily access the many beautiful trails and communities throughout New York State,” said Parks & Trails New York Executive Director Robin Dropkin.
Chambers of Commerce and state and local elected officials have joined Parks & Trails New York, The Canalway Trails Association New York, the New York Bicycling Coalition, New York State Canal Corporation, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, and U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer in calling for bike racks on Amtrak trains serving New York State.
Show Your Support
Help us raise visibility for the issue on Facebook and Twitter by posting a bicycle touring picture of yourself with the hashtag #BikesOnTrains and mention both @Amtrak and @PTNY in your post.
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