The Troy Transit Center has an Amtrak platform, and passengers can now take their bikes as carry-on items.

The Troy Transit Center has an Amtrak platform, and passengers can now take their bikes as carry-on items.

File photo by Deb Jacques


Amtrak is latest to make commutes easier on bike riders

By: Tiffany Esshaki | C&G Newspapers | Published August 7, 2018

 Artistic bike racks stretch across the Sterling Heights Public Library parking lot. The racks were installed last summer to support more bike traffic.

Artistic bike racks stretch across the Sterling Heights Public Library parking lot. The racks were installed last summer to support more bike traffic.

File photo by Deb Jacques

"Adding this service helps connect to Michigan’s popular recreation trails across the state."

Michael Frezell, Communications manager for MDOT

METRO DETROIT — You’ve spotted the racks outside the coffee shop and driven — gingerly — alongside the lanes on the edge of the road. Now another accommodation has been made to make life a little easier for bicyclists trying to get not just around town, but across the state.

Late last month, Amtrak Wolverine Service — that’s the rail company’s 350-355 lines — began allowing riders to bring bikes aboard for an additional $10 charge and a prior reservation.

The lines make three daily round trips from Pontiac to Chicago through Detroit, Jackson and other stops. 

Marc Magliari, spokesman for Amtrak government affairs and corporate communications, said the new policy is just one of the railway’s efforts to address something called the “last mile issue” in mass transit.

“That is, how our customers go to and from where our Amtrak trains make their stops and then the distance to each customer’s origin or destination,” Magliari explained. “This addition to our service can help resolve that matter.”

That’s important, he said, because there’s growing evidence in the transportation industry that even people with an ability to drive — meaning those who are licensed and have access to a vehicle — are opting to ride bicycles anyway.

“In a number of locations around our network, the number of eligible drivers who actually choose to drive is declining. Cycling is a strong alternative for local mobility and for recreation. We want to welcome those groups to our service too,” he said.

Sure, getting to and from work is a transportation need for Michiganders. But the Mitten State is also a haven for beautiful bike trails, from the Rouge Gateway Trail in Dearborn to scenic rural trails on the west side of the state, like the Falling Waters Trail in Jackson, the Battle Creek Linear Pathway in Battle Creek and the Kalamazoo River Trailway in Kalamazoo. Oh, lest we forget: The daunting Iron Belle Trail stretches from the Motor City to Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula. 

Not to mention Michigan’s urban centers, like Royal Oak, Ann Arbor and, of course, Detroit, which are all making adaptations to their city planning policies to be a little more bike friendly. Detroit’s Riverfront and Dequindre Cut. Don’t forget the bike-friendly QLine too. 

Now riders will have an easier time avoiding gas-guzzling vehicles at every point in their recreation journey, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation, which sponsored the transition to carry-on bikes. 

“Bicycle riders and enthusiasts have long been interested in the expansion of this service. Adding this service helps connect to Michigan’s popular recreation trails across the state,” said Michael Frezell, communications manager for MDOT.


Bike-friendly?
According to the League of American Bicyclists, the U.S. Census Bureau has consistently determined that Detroit is the American city with the largest number of bike commuters on its streets since 2000. 

But bicycling.com still only includes one Michigan city in its list of the best cities for biking: Grand Rapids. 

Do you think metro Detroit cities could do more to accommodate bike riders? Share your thoughts below.