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?