Kirsten Gillibrand United States Senator for New York

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Gillibrand Urges Amtrak to Include Bicycle Racks on New Baggage Cars

Racks Would Allow Cyclists to Easily Transport Bicycles on Lakeshore Limited, Empire Service and Maple Leaf Train Lines

May 18, 2012

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today urged Amtrak to include bicycle racks in its plans to modernize the rolling stock used in train services between New York City and Buffalo. The inclusion of bicycle racks would provide ease of access for those wishing to bike to tourist destinations throughout New York State, providing more streamlined travel for active tourism along New York’s Erie Canalway Trail and creating the opportunity to generate revenue from these tourists.  

This month, Senator Gillibrand wrote to Amtrak President and CEO Joseph H. Boardman urging that train service include bicycle racks for customers throughout New York State.

“New York State is blessed with vast natural beauty. This is just a commonsense step to remove barriers so more New Yorkers can get out and enjoy it,” Senator Gillibrand said. “When we allow more cyclists to take advantage of the hundreds of miles of Amtrak rail lines right long so much of the Erie Canalway Trail, we can unlock access to recreation, and jumpstart a new economic engine by boosting tourism revenue.”

“We applaud Senator Gillibrand for her continued efforts to attract additional visitors to the Erie Canalway Trail and enhance the upstate economy as a result,” said Robin Dropkin, Executive Director, Parks & Trails New York. “As Amtrak stations are conveniently located in close proximity to much of the Trail, allowing easy bike access on trains would mean that multi-day cyclists could lengthen their ride and visit more historic canal communities before returning to their starting point by train instead of retracing their route by bike.  This would mean more tourism dollars for local businesses along the trail in addition to more riders for Amtrak.” 

Currently, bicycles are prohibited on Amtrak trains unless they are dissembled and boxed. This is both inefficient and inconvenient for those that desire to travel long distances on their bicycles while using the convenience of trains to make their long distance travel more desirable. The addition of bicycle racks on Amtrak trains would allow cyclists to easily ride along the Erie Canalway Trail without the hassle of boxing their bicycles or worrying about how they will get back.  

The Erie Canalway Trail extends 365 miles between Buffalo and Albany along much of the Erie Canal. As one of the longest multi-use trails in the nation and because of its association with the legendary Erie Canal the trail attracts riders from throughout the nation and the world. At present, the Canalway Trail is visited by more than 1.6 million visitors each year. Currently, it is estimated that touring cyclist have the potential to generate $100-300 per person per day, which would boost tourism revenues in the local economies along the canal.