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Guest Post: Amtrak -- Let's Get Rolling!
This guest post comes from Ginny Sullivan, director of Travel Initiatives at Adventure Cycling Association.
Early this week, Adventure Cycling Association, the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking and Walking wrote Amtrak president, Joseph H. Boardman a letter supporting increased bicycle services on the Adirondack and Ethan Allen Lines in New York and Vermont.
This letter is a direct result of the press conference held by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and New York State Sens. Betty Little and Brad Hoylman and supports local efforts by the New York Bicycle Coalition (NYBC). However, it is also in support of other advocacy efforts taking place in a number of states including Vermont, Michigan, California, Virginia and Washington. It’s a call Adventure Cycling, the League and the Alliance have all heard loud and clear – from our members, our supporters and cyclists around the world.
The Amtrak issue has perplexed cyclists for years. In the past, Adventure Cycling Association has had limited success engaging Amtrak officials, and state and local advocates have been stymied time and again by the fact that many of the rail cars are not made to allow roll-on accommodation. Stating safety concerns and lack of storage, the ability to travel by train with a bicycle is hindered by the design of the rail cars, the platform heights, lack of on-train storage and train schedules (stops can be less than 5 minutes in some cases).
But finally, a few breakthroughs are in the works. Amtrak officials are conducting a pilot plan for roll-on/roll-off services on the Capitol Limited Line between Washington and Pittsburgh. This will be an incredible service for people cycling the C&O Canal and Great Allegheny Passage. In New York, Vermont, and Michigan, Amtrak is working with bicycle advocates, rail passenger associations and rail authorities on roll-on/roll-off test runs.
Adventure Cycling Association has also gained some momentum in bringing these groups together to work collaboratively with Amtrak. The goal is to find ways Amtrak can begin to make accommodations with short-term and long-term solutions.
You can read DCStreetsblog for more background on this issue.
Ginny Sullivan is the director of Travel Initiatives at Adventure Cycling Association. Adventure Cycling Association’s mission is to inspire and empower people to travel by bicycle. Ginny coordinates the U.S Bicycle Route System and works to improve bike travel conditions across North America through partnership development and advocacy.
(Photo courtesy of Christopher Parker, of Vermont Trail Action Network.)