Dreaming of bicycling adventures

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Then, this past week, I received a press release from the New York Bicycling Coalition that made me think that I really have to get a new bike. The release announced a new partnership between the NYBC and Amtrak to allow bikes on specially equipped Amtrak cars. Amtrak is retrofitting café cars on its Maple Leaf, Adirondack and Ethan Allen trains as bike storage units. If the pilot program goes well, bicyclists will soon be able to lock their bikes in the café cars in Manhattan, travel in the comfort of passenger cars and get off anywhere along one of the three lines. A one-way ticket from Manhattan to Canada costs around $70.

Right now, cyclists have to box their bikes and stow them in luggage compartments, so retrieving them is hard. The bike cars will allow cyclists to grab their bikes and just go.

When I read about the program, my mind immediately began to wander, thinking of the adventures that could be had riding the train to Saratoga, Rochester or Montreal, biking to see what I could see, and getting back on the train and returning to NYC.

Amtrak already offers this “roll-on” service in a handful of western states, including on the Surfliner train in California and the Cascades train between Oregon and British Columbia.

As a Long Islander, you might wonder how you would get your bike to Penn Station. I’m way ahead of you. This isn’t well known, but the Long Island Rail Road allows you to take a bike on its trains with a $5 permit. The bike must be a single-seat, human-powered model, and its wheel diameter cannot exceed 27 inches. To apply for a permit, send a check payable to the LIRR to LIRR Bicycle Permits, Jamaica Station Mail Code 1973, Jamaica, N.Y. 11435. For more information, check out the LIRR’s Bicycle Information Policy on its website.

You can’t bring your bike on the LIRR during peak hours, and the number of bikes per train is limited to four on weekdays, and one per car, up to a maximum of eight, on weekends. Over the summer, trains on the Babylon, Montauk, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma/Greenport lines are designated “bicycle trains” and can carry up to two bikes per car.
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