Amtrak Bill Clears the Way for Bike-Friendly Trains

caltrain_bike_car.jpgThe five-year Amtrak authorization that Congress passed last week includes a nice inter-modal touch. It states in no uncertain terms that funding can be spent on making trains accessible for bikes:

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.

Queens Congressman Anthony Weiner got the language into the bill after prompting from Transportation Alternatives. President Bush has not yet signed it into law, but according to the Times, the White House has signaled that he will.

"In the past, Amtrak has claimed that because the funding bill did not explicitly say that the money may be spent on bikes that they couldn't make trains bike-accessible," says T.A.'s Noah Budnick. "Now it should be clear to the most bureaucratic bureaucrat: Federal money for Amtrak can be spent on bike-accessibility."

The bill does not mandate bike-accessibility, so riders will have to contact Amtrak to put it on its agenda. I know I'd like to bring a bike on board the next time I visit my grandmother in DC. A SmartBike location right at Union Station would also do the trick.

Photo of Caltrain bike car near Palo Alto: richardmasoner/Flickr