‘Bikes on a Train:’ Amtrak Supports Cycling Across Borders

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Chicago has been frequently recognized as America’s second best bike city by Bicycling magazine, and while bikes are often seen on the Chicago Transit Authority and Metra trains, passengers could not bring their bicycles on the Amtrak until recently.

Earlier this month, Amtrak announced that passengers are now able to take their bicycles aboard Hiawatha trains running between Milwaukee and Chicago, the Wisconsin Gazette reported. However, travelers must make an online reservation in advance in order to do so, and pay $5.

“This saves our bicycling passengers money and makes their everyday journeys or vacation trips to explore Milwaukee and Chicago so much easier,” John Alley, manager of transit, local roads, railroads and harbors for WisDOT, said in a news release.

Previously, if a passenger wanted to travel with a bike, they were required to disassemble the bike and ship it in a box, according to the Chicago Tribune. This was an inconvenience for many, so Amtrak decided to accommodate for cyclists by installing bike racks on the trains. Unfortunately, this limits the number of bicycles on one train to 15.

Each Hiawatha train line makes seven round-trips between Chicago and Milwaukee daily. In addition to making the transportation process easier, tourism rates in both cities are expected to grow, Dave Schlabowske of Wisconsin Bike Fed told the Wisconsin Gazette.

“There’s a lot of people traveling in the Chicago to Milwaukee area that would love the opportunity just to take their bikes along,” Schlabowski said.

Other train lines across the country have been adding bike racks recently as well. The demand for bike accessibility on public transportation reflects the rapid growth of both bicyclers and commuter cyclists; in fact, 1.3 percent of workers commute by bike in Chicago, according to a report by Census.gov, translating to nearly 16,000 bike commuters in the city.

Amtrak encourages passengers utilizing the new service to arrive 30 minutes prior to departure to have enough time to load their bikes.