Bikes and trains: Free meetup at the Green Dragon tonight

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Bikes on Amtrak

More Amtrak lines are allowing this.
(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.

Read more

Zipcar, ODOT and Amtrak Cascades Partner to Launch “Zip and Ride”

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

Sharing this because we know many BikePortlanders are low-car and love using the train to create big bike adventures…

Zipcars within walking distance of three Amtrak stations in Oregon

PORTLAND – Zipcar, the world’s leading car sharing network, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Amtrak Cascades today announced the launch of “Zip and Ride,” a partnership to locate Zipcars within walking distance of three Amtrak train stations (Portland Union Station, Salem Station, and Eugene Depot) and promote more connected, cost-effective travel options for train riders.

The “Zip and Ride” program allows anyone using the Amtrak Cascades service to use a Zipcar to and from destinations, in concert with train service. This combination helps avoid traffic headaches and parking stress while taking advantage of special “Zip and Ride” membership and reservation rates at Amtrak stations in Eugene, Salem and Portland and throughout the Portland area. Amtrak Coast Starlight passengers can also take advantage of this program at all three stations, and Amtrak Empire Builder passengers can do the same at Portland Union Station. Uses include:

  • Government employees commuting or traveling for meetings between Eugene, Salem and Portland for work can take the train to their destination, then pick up a Zipcar at the train station and drive around town for meetings or site visits.
  • Local business employees can travel to work via train, then reserve a Zipcar to run supplies between offices or meet with clients. Zipcar has vehicles of all shapes and sizes to meet every trip’s needs.
  • Bike commuters can board Amtrak Cascades with their bikes, then reserve one of Zipcar’s Yakima bike rack-equipped vehicles to complement their trip.
  • “Oregon is a national leader in sustainable and innovative transportation, and this partnership provides yet another ‘green’ option. Drivers can avoid I-5 congestion and take Zipcar for convenience and flexibility at their destination, all while enjoying free time and comfort on the train with Amtrak Cascades’ bistro and free Wi-Fi service,” said Hal Gard, Administrator for ODOT’s Rail and Public Transit Division.

    “Our ‘wheels when you want them’ service is a true complement to the Amtrak Cascades line,” said Jeremy Nelson, Zipcar Portland general manager. “The ‘Zip and Ride’ program will enhance the quality of life for Oregonians by making it easy and affordable to get out and experience all that the state has to offer.”

    Zipcar gives its members on-demand access to a fleet of 12,000 cars in hundreds of cities, as well as colleges and university campuses worldwide and major airports throughout North America and in Europe. Zipcars are available 24/7 for reservation by the hour or by the day via Zipcar’s mobile app, online, or over the phone.

    Prospective members can join the service instantly on Zipcar’s mobile app, and Oregonians can now take advantage of special “Zip and Ride” membership and reservation rates. For more information on “Zip and Ride,” visit

    Amtrak Cascades operates four daily round trips between Portland and Seattle; two daily round trips between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia; and two daily round trips between Portland and Eugene, Oregon.

    Possible cuts to Amtrak service raise stakes of Salem’s transportation limbo

    Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
    Bikes on Amtrak

    The Cascades line is arguably the bike-friendliest
    in the country.
    (Photo: Will Vanlue)

    One of the country’s most-ridden Amtrak lines could have its southern tail chopped off unless Oregon legislators find another $5 million to keep it whole.

    The state-sponsored Amtrak Cascades service between Eugene and Portland, with stops in Albany, Salem, Woodburn and Oregon City, is likely to be eliminated unless the state is willing to cover the one-third of the line’s operating costs, $28 million annually, that aren’t covered by ticket revenue.

    Read more

    Amtrak’s trains keep getting bike-friendlier, but its buses aren’t keeping up

    Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
    bikes on Amtrak bus

    It’s sometimes possible to talk bikes onto an Amtrak
    bus, but the variety of contractors is an obstacle.
    (Photo: Mark Hogan)

    As Amtrak invests in improving its trains to carry bikes, some customers are warning that Amtrak’s buses are falling behind.

    The Amtrak Cascades line, between Eugene and Vancouver BC, is both one of the most-ridden regional rail lines in the country and maybe the bike-friendliest. For $5 on top of your fare, you can easily check an unboxed bike to most stops on the line and reclaim it like any other bit of luggage.

    The service has been so popular that the hooks in Amtrak’s baggage cars started filling up. So two years ago, the Cascades added more hooks, boosting its bike capacity by 67 percent.

    Read more

    After complaints, Amtrak clarifies: folding bikes always allowed as carry-ons

    Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
    Amtrak Cascades Mud Bay Surrey BC 2007_0917_1052

    Amtrak Cascades, the regional line several BikePortland
    readers said is bike-friendlier than many.
    (Photo by Stephen Rees.)

    A late-night incident in which Amtrak workers awoke two Portlanders to tell them, incorrectly, that their folding bikes weren’t allowed as carry-ons has led the agency to clarify its policy.

    Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham said last week that every passenger car in the system allows folding bicycles as carry-on luggage “if they fit the dimensions described in the policy and can fit in the areas designated for carry on baggage or bikes.”

    The maximum dimensions are 34 inches by 15 inches by 48 inches, as stated in Amtrak’s policy. Mass-market folding bikes meet those constraints, Dean Mullin of local shop Clever Cycles said Wednesday.

    Read more

    Citing nonexistent policy, Amtrak workers haul away Portlanders’ bikes – UPDATED

    Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
    Texas Eagle

    The Texas Eagle in Austin, Tex.
    (Photo by Ian Westcott.)

    [See official response from Amtrak in update at end of story.]

    Amtrak apologized Tuesday to a Portlander traveling through Texas who said train workers woke her up and yelled at her for having a folding bicycle as carry-on luggage — something the national rail service allows.

    “Unfortunately, we have found that Amtrak employees at all levels tend to be unaware of the company’s policy’s regarding bikes, folding and otherwise,” Elly Blue, a Portland-based writer who is on a business trip with her partner Joe Biel, wrote in an email. (Blue and Biel didn’t end up losing their bikes or needing to check them, though they were taken away overnight.)

    “I love the train because it’s low-stress,” Blue lamented. Last night’s trip, though, was anything but.

    Read more

    Packed with bikes, Amtrak Cascades adds more hooks to its trains

    Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
    Bikes on Amtrak

    Now with more room.
    (Photo: Will Vanlue)

    Bikes have become a big part of train travel here in the Pacific Northwest, and train travel has become a big part of bike tourism. The latest sign: Amtrak Cascades just boosted its bike hauling capacity by 67 percent.

    Every run on the state-subsidized regional train line that connects Eugene, Vancouver BC and various cities in between now offers 10 bike hooks per train, up from 6. Adding your bike to an Amtrak Cascades trip, an easy step during online checkout, costs $5 for each direction hauled.

    The most popular city pair on Amtrak Cascades, between Portland and Seattle, is also one of the most crowded with bikes, Cascades Operations Supervisor Kirk Fredrickson said Wednesday. Seattle-Vancouver and Portland-Vancouver regularly fill up, too.

    Read more

    Traveling for the holidays? Here’s how to take your bike along

    Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
    Separated cycle track, Baltimore

    Riding in other cities can be fun
    and fascinating — like this ride in Baltimore.
    (Photo © Elly Blue)

    The holiday travel season is coming up. If you’re leaving Portland, maybe you’ve thought about bringing your bike along for the trip this time.

    A bike doesn’t make sense for every trip or every destination. But if it does fit in with your plans, the experience of traveling with a bike comes highly recommended. A bike can give you independence, flexibility, adventure, and a surefire way to meet people wherever you go.

    How you bring the bike, what kind of bike is best to bring, and how much it costs all depend on whether you’re flying or taking the train. Here’s the rundown:

    Read more

    On the train: Checking the bike, making friends

    Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward

    Boxing up the Brompton was a team effort
    (Photos by Elly Blue)

    I’m beginning to realize a few things about traveling with a folding bike.

    First of all, it’s definitely a passport to general goodwill and friendliness. I had a great time chatting with a homeless guy and a college student on the L’s blue line last night at 1am. It’s hard to imagine the three of us in that circumstance getting into a friendly conversation without the Brompton.

    It’s also because of the Brompton that I met Marc and Sheri, Portlanders headed out on a month and a half long east coast train trip of their own. We soon found we had friends in common (Sheri worked with Sara Stout on the Share the Road mural that Jonathan covered back in 2006). They were excellent train companions.

    Read more