(Photo: Will Vanlue)
They’re the smallest and the biggest vehicles many people use during their lives, and they keep becoming a better travel pair.
A free event Wednesday evening will bring a rail-riding college student to Portland to talk about various aspects of bicycle-and-train travel.
The latest major improvement on this front in the United States is Amtrak’s expanded roll-on bike service, a 2013 shift by the national passenger rail company that came after years of advocacy from people who saw the potential.
Eleven Amtrak lines (including the Eugene-to-Vancouver Cascades line through Portland) now offer roll-on bike service, and seven more offer checked bike service.
By removing some of its trains’ old requirements that you disassemble your bike with every boarding and pack it into a special box, Amtrak has greatly improved its potential for people looking to combine the two modes.
To promote its new service, Amtrak has hired Elena Studier as a summer intern to travel the country by train and with her bicycle, whose name is Stevie. Studier will visit the Green Dragon brewpub in southeast Portland tonight to briefly discuss and answer questions about her trip, which started in Manhattan last week and will last for four more weeks.
The happy hour is being organized by the Portland chapters of Young Professionals in Transportation and WTS International. It begins 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at 928 SE 9th Ave.
Studier is blogging about her trip at SummerByRail.com — hopefully not exclusively with Amtrak’s on-board Wi-Fi.
— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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Michael Andersen was news editor of BikePortland.org from 2013 to 2016 and still pops up occasionally.
I hope someone important at Amtrak ( and maybe even congress) will see that easy storage of bikes on passenger trains is the “killer ap” that train travel needs . We badly need to rebuild our passenger train network as peak oil and climate change mean there is no future in either long distance car travel or commercial aviation for the masses. Perhaps promoting ( and creating capacity) is the thing needed to gain support for rail travel
Will Amtrack be offering this internship next summer? Asking for a friend.
It’s great that this exists on some trains, but deeply frustrating that it’s not available on major routes (Coast Starlight, Empire Builder) that would facilitate some obvious bike vacations from Portland/Seattle. How amazing would it be to take the train to Glacier National Park for a spin on Going to the Sun Road, for example?
It is worth noting Amtrak allows folding bikes on all routes as carry-on. I finished a Northern California coast tour in Oakland, folded up my Bike Friday at the Amtrak station and took the Coast Starlight back to PDX.
Yeah, the long routes honks me off since it’s 20 miles to the local Amtrak (Empire Builder) stop. But it’s not a checked baggage stop, so no bikes.
I’ve asked about bike cases, but no joy there either. To me that’s the wacky one. If you have ever been in the baggage section of a superliner the baggage shelves are large enough to haul steamer trunks. A bike case, like an EVOC, tends to be pretty narrow, even if it’s longer and taller than a normal bag. No reason it couldn’t set on its side on top of a suitcase and carry on.
I agree I would love such a service too on the lines you mention…though the difficulty is the difference in Cascades vs. Coast Star[Late] services is the number of bike ons-&-offs per 100 miles you may be able to serve with 1 rack. Kinda like a short term on-street parking space vs long term.
Hint Hint: May be Amtrak needs a smarter (more flexible) racking system laid out for their long haul lines that allow for compressing bike parking for those long haul bikes (on from start to finish) vs. the local trippers. Amtrak – given me a call to discuss.
It seems perverse to me that not only do nearly all Amtrak stations have facilities for parking cars and they even have trains dedicated to transporting cars, but very few lines offer roll-on bike transportation. I know train ridership has been growing rapidly these past five years, but that’s no reason to not encourage additional growth by picking the low-hanging fruit.
It doesn’t require much to outfit the baggage car to handle bikes. I once had a conductor willingly take my tandem on the Coast Starlight from Seattle to Davis; we just handed it up to him and he leaned it against the wall. (Being able to lock the old disk brake on came in handy.)
We’ve used Amtrak’s bike roll-on three times in the past few years: Eugene-to-PDX after a couple of rides along the Willamette View Scenic Bikeway and up to Seattle for a ride from there to Victoria (via Ferry out of Port Angeles). In all cases, the service has been easy to use and the staff stellar. You must remove water bottles, saddle bags and panniers, so be prepared for that. It’s a great way mix modes. I only wish the Empire Builder had this feature. We’d use it to get to the Trail of the Coeur d’ALenes instead of driving there.
Last year, my brother and I rode on the Cascades for a weekend in Seattle that included a visit to the EMP museum (a must if you’re in the area – monorail station is next door to EMP in Seattle Center across from the Space Needle). We saw the bike roll on / off service at King St. station in Seattle, apparently quite popular. Many of the Amtrak bike friendly lines run near National Bike Route corridors such as the Capitol Ltd. (DC-Pitsburgh-Cleveland-CHicago). If an NBR is ever designated in Oregon, I’d say it would be more likely to see it added to the Coast Srarlight and / or Empire Builder. That could happen in the next few years.
Last summer I flew W/my Waterford (steel) to Germany for a rail and bike tour of that country. Trails went through private property and that method of touring simple is a “done” thing. it was wonderful
When Amtrack gets it right,like Ireland,let me know.