September 2, 2015
Last Friday, six Amtrak passengers waited at Union Station in Pittsburgh in the early morning darkness to catch the Capitol Limited train with bikes in hand. They were demoing Amtrak's new, but not yet publicly available, bicycle roll-on service which has been eagerly awaited by cyclists around the country. The Capitol Limited parallels two popular bicycle trails—the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage—for 350 miles of traffic-free cycling.
When the train arrived, the passengers rolled their bikes into a car with seven bike racks, hooked their bikes on the wall, and secured them with velcro. There will be eight bike racks total once the service is launched.
Ninety-five minutes later, the train pulled up to the Amtrak station in Connellsville, where the conductor alerted the cyclists, giving them time to get their bikes ready to roll off the train.
The feedback from the roll-on demo was very positive, and all participants were very excited about upcoming launch of the service. Participant Ed Quigley remarked, "All the Amtrak personnel were helpful and positive, and it was a wonderful experience. This is going to be such a boost for the local economy, the trail towns, and cycling. And Amtrak passengers!"
The new roll-on service is anticipated to be open to the public within the next two weeks and will allow passengers to roll their bicycles on and off the train at any station along the route—without having to box their bikes.
Amtrak partnered with Adventure Cycling one and a half years ago to form an advisory Bicycle Task Force to work on developing the service and addressing challenges. Amtrak will charge $25 for the fee and cyclists will need to reserve a space for their bike when buying their ticket online.
Stay tuned for Amtrak's official opening of bicycle roll-on service!
First six photos by Yale Cohen; bottom two photos by Don Erdjalec.
BUILDING BICYCLE TOURISM is written by Ginny Sullivan and Saara Snow of the Travel Initiatives Department and focuses on the growing national movement to build bicycle tourism, including economic impacts, bike friendly tips, multimodal travel, and resources for destination development and marketing.