Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Is a Bike-Friendly Train In our Future?

For years I have on occasion written to Amtrak questioning why there are no bike accessible cars in our region. When and if they bothered to write back I always received the same canned response. "Federal funding prohibited Amtrak from spending funds that would allow for bicycle accessibility." Of course I always queried back asking who paid for and authorized the inclusion of the bike accessibility on the trains that run in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest. And as expected, I never received an answer to that question.

The five-year Amtrak authorization that Congress passed last week puts an end to any doubt of whether or not federal funding covered bikes on the trains. The new Amtrak authorization bill now clearly states:
"NONMOTORIZED TRANSPORTATION ACCESS AND STORAGE. -- Grants under this chapter may be used to provide access to rolling stock for nonmotorized transportation, including bicycles, and recreational equipment, and to provide storage capacity in trains for such transportation, equipment, and other luggage, to ensure passenger safety."

I don't know about you guys and gals, but I would love to be able to plan trips to Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Melbourne, St. Augustine, Savannah, Brunswick and many other towns and cites using a mix of mass transit in the way of trains and busses and of course my bike.

The new language however exciting it may potentially be for our future train travel. It does not go so far as to mandate that Amtrak provide bicycle accessibility. We still need to contact Amtrak to attain those bike-friendly cars.

I've added a poll to this post. I'm curious as to what you think. Am I the only one that thinks bikes and trains are a near perfect way to travel?

foreign exchange Flash Poll


José said...

By the way, if McCain wins the election, we can all forget about Amtrak. Eliminating Amtrak is one of his non-negotiable items.

Archi-Phreak said...

I would love for McCain to get rid of Amtrak. Go read this post over at MertoJax.
Jacksonville, and nearly all major cities, used to rely on trains for travel to and fro. These days you just hop in your gas guzzling SUV and head out on the road at 15 miles to the galon that only totes 5 people comfortably. Check out the maps of yesteryears trains that would all run straight through the heart of Jacksonville as little as 20 years ago. It's a sad sad thing. Amtrak virtually destroyed train travel on the east cost.

Shek said...

I have the misfortune to read the epicurean cyclist and his train and bicycle touring combination trips. It even hurts that he is a fantastic photographer and puts up some cool images of his trips.

Are bikes not allowed on trains today? I would like to visit friends in West Palm Beach and Orlando without having to rent a car.

All I heard from McCain last night was drill-drill-drill. National oil is his answer to the economy, defense and to global warming.

I can hope for the best but am preparing for the worst.

José said...

here is a link from the Congress for the new Urbanisn. It gives an overview of both candidates positions on urbanism, transportation,etc.

José said...

Sooo, if Amtrak destroyed train travel we should eliminate Amtrak...? That's interesting....

Anonymous said...

I have taken a bike, actually a trike, on the train to and from sebring, florida from Jacksonville. I also have taken a bike on a train from Jefferson City to Saint Louis. You do have to make your bike fit in a suitcase sized bag, or as I did in a sports equipment bag to deal with the fact that many stops don't have luggage service so only carry ons work.
Amtrak service is so bad...they put you on a bus to connect to New Orleans...They tell you they cant guarantee same day arrival because of delays. I was three hours late one way and two hours late the other direction. But the trip was more relaxing than driving. I met some cool people as well.

Trains and bikes make sense...don't count on government to recognize that. Legislators think bikes are motorcycles they own as toys...