Join Cyclists Aboard Amtrak on Wednesday

July 29, 2013–By Jen Benepe

This Wednesday the New York Bicycling Coalition needs your help in boarding Amtrak with your bicycle.

A similar  “bikes on board” demonstration took place on Wednesday, July 24 on the Ethan Allen train, said Josh Wilson, the group’s director.

Twenty three bicyclists participated and provided valuable feedback to Amtrak and NYBC about how to accommodate cyclists in the future. Up to now, bicycles have not been allowed on regional New York Amtrak trains traveling upstate and to places like Vermont.

This is all because of the initiative spearheaded by NYBC, and now taken on by U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.

As of last week, Amtrak is testing bicycle-carrying baggage cars to its services in New York so vacationers, particularly those living downstate, can take their bikes along with them when they ride the trains.

If all goes well, advocates hope that Amtrak will implement a full-scale bike carrying service for the region.

Last Wednesday, July 24, Amtrak implemented a test demo “Bikes on Board,” program so it could carry bicycles on trains serving Maine and North Carolina, as well as on its California services.

State Sens. Betty Little and Brad Hoylman also pushed for the demo last month, noting the economic impact bicycle tourism has on the Capital Region, North Country, and throughout Upstate New York.

With an eye on Amtrak’s Ethan Allen and Adirondack passenger train lines, which run between New York City and Montreal, Schumer pointed out that many New York City residents don’t own cars and have no way to get their bicycles to bicycle races in Washington County, bike races in the Lake Placid region, or to such vacation destinations as Lake George.

On Wednesday, July 31, Amtrak is inviting 40 bicyclists to roll their bikes on and travel at no charge on the northbound Adirondack train from Albany-Rensselaer to Rouses Point, NY.

The train will be the normally scheduled Adirondack but it will be equipped with an extra car that has rack space for four bicycles.

Each bicyclist will sign up to board the train at a particular stop and will get off the train at the next stop.  Because there are a total of 10 possible boarding stops, a maximum of 40 bicyclists can be accommodated on this test run.

“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 their partners in the bicycling community,” said Wilson.  “This is a special and historic opportunity to personally participate in this test run, a demonstration project that may result in the change we have been seeking.”

Below are instructions on how to participate in the upcoming Bikes on Board demo.

Please read the details below closely so you understand what’s involved in the test.  Please do not sign up if the guidelines don’t work for you.  Please note that this is a demonstration – the ride is not open to the public and Amtrak will not allow unboxed bicycles on any other trains on July 31.

Before volunteering, please review the following boarding options:

11:05am – Board at Albany-Rensselaer and exit at Schenectady

11:29am – Board at Schenectady and exit at Saratoga Springs

11:57am – Board at Saratoga Springs and exit at Ft. Edward-Glens Falls

12:19pm – Board at Ft. Edward-Glens Falls and exit at Whitehall

12:44pm – Board at Whitehall and exit at Ticonderoga

1:17pm – Board at Ticonderoga and exit at Port Henry

1:39pm – Board at Port Henry and exit at Westport

2:08pm – Board at Westport and exit at Port Kent

2:48pm – Board at Port Kent and exit at Plattsburgh

3:12pm – Board at Plattsburgh and exit at Rouses Point

Volunteers will be accepted on a first come, first served basis until 5:00pm on Monday, July 29th or until space is gone.  

Before volunteering, please review the following requirements:

  • Participants must sign-up through New York Bicycling Coalition.  If you are not on the list, you will not be able to board, even if there are spots available.
  • Participants ride only for one stop on July 31.
  • Participants must be adults.
  • Participants must board with single bicycles (no recumbents, tandems or trailers, please).
  • Participants must arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the boarding time.
  • Participants must commit to showing up, even if it’s predicted to be hot, humid, or raining.
  • Participants must have photo ID and be prepared to fill out a survey en route, and may not give their spaces to others unless the switch has been approved.
  • Participants must make arrangements for all pre-train ride and post-train ride transportation.
If you’d like to reserve a spot for yourself on July 31 you can do so by emailing Josh at nybc@nybc.net with your full name, valid email address, phone number and the stop at which you want to board the train with your bike.  Please write “Amtrak Bike Demo” in the message line. Reservations will be taken on a first come, first served basis.  A waiting list for each stop will be created if demand is sufficient.

This is an amazing opportunity to demonstrate strong demand among bicyclists in New York State for providing regular unboxed bicycle carriage service on Amtrak trains.  We hope all available spots will be filled with enthusiastic participants.

Thank you,

Josh Wilson

 

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