In a press release yesterday (see below), the NY Bicycle Coalition announced a partnership with Amtrak to bring bike racks to some of their busiest trains…maybe someday you’ll be able to put your bike on the train in Plattsburgh in the morning and be peddaling around Manhattan in the afternoon!!!
Josh Wilson, Executive Director
New York Bicycling Coalition
July 30, 2013
For immediate release:
New York Bicycling Coalition partners with Amtrak to test “bikes on board”
New York Bicycling Coalition (NYBC) has partnered with Amtrak to organize 3 demonstration rides on its Empire Service (including the Maple Leaf and Adirondack trains) and Ethan Allen routes in New York State. A café car retrofitted with 4 bicycle racks is being used to test the carriage of unboxed bicycles on these train lines.
On July 23, 24 and 31, the New York Bicycling Coalition organized volunteer bicyclists to participate in demonstration rides on all Amtrak train routes in the State.
During these demonstration rides 4 bicyclists board the train at each stop along the route and secure their bikes in racks situated in the retrofitted café car. The bicyclists then have the chance to provide feedback to Amtrak officials and complete a written survey. Non-bicycling passengers are also asked to complete a survey about the service. NYS Senators Betty Little and Brad Hoylman participated in the demonstration ride on July 24, along with local elected officials and representatives from area chambers of commerce and tourism agencies.
In June, 2013 U.S. Senator Charles Schumer held a press conference in Albany to advocate for bicycle service on Amtrak trains in New York, along with Senators Little and Hoylman, Assemblyman John McDonald of Cohoes, and New York Bicycling Coalition. Senator Schumer’s office recently released a statement saying that the ‘bikes on board’ demonstration “could kick start the process towards full-bike service on New York’s regional lines, which will be a huge boon for both recreation and tourism in Upstate.”
“Getting unboxed bicycle carriage facilities onto trains in New York has been a long-time advocacy goal of New York Bicycling Coalition and many of our partners in the bicycling community,” said Josh Wilson, Executive Director of NYBC. “We are thrilled that Amtrak has provided this special and historic opportunity for bicyclists to participate in these test runs and to demonstrate the strong demand for providing this service on New York’s Amtrak train routes.”
Currently only the Lake Shore Limited train between New York City and Chicago has the facility, a baggage car, to carry bicycles. Bicycles must be boxed for carriage on this train. Roll-on bicycle carriage service on trains serving New York State would provide millions of people living in New York City, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, and other cities with an easy and convenient way to travel with their bicycles to scenic regions and friendly communities in New York State for unparalleled bicycling. The service would encourage increased bicycle tourism. It would support multiple local and regional tourism and recreation promotion initiatives, providing a much-needed economic stimulus to local communities.
Amtrak already operates this popular service in a handful of western states, including the Surfliner Train in California, and the Amtrak Cascades Train between Oregon and British Columbia.
Bicyclists across the state are excited by the opportunity. “This is badly needed. We’re renting cars to take our bikes upstate. I’d much rather take the train, said Alan Jacobs, who lives in Manhattan.
Elizabeth Murphy, Rochester, told NYBC “I dream of a day when I can ride to the train station, hop on the train with my bike, and hop off at any stop to go on a bicycle adventure.”
The future of roll-on bicycle service in New York will be determined by the NYS Department of Transportation, who will soon take on the responsibility of paying for a greater portion of in-state train service in accordance with a 2008 federal law that goes into effect in October; and Amtrak, who must design and approve a bicycle rack system that will work on the train cars used in New York.
“New York Bicycling Coalition will continue working with Amtrak, NYS Department of Transportation, Empire State Passengers Association, elected officials, chambers of commerce and other stakeholders toward a reasonable, cost-effective design for accommodating unboxed bicycles on New York’s passenger train lines,” said Josh Wilson.