League of Michigan Bicyclists asks MDOT and Amtrak to allow bicycles on trains

The League of Michigan Bicyclists is asking the Michigan Department of Transporation (MDOT) and Amtrak:

  • to prioritize allowing bicycles on-board Michigan’s three Amtrak routes, especially through roll-on service.
  • to ensure that the new rolling stock to service Michigan routes includes 21st century provisions for bicycles on-board trains.
  • to include short and long-term bike parking in all future site plans.

Seamless multi-modal connections are essential to a sustainable 21st century transportation system. It should be easy for travelers to make connections from one mode of transportation to another to easily and safely link trips. One great example is the potential for train travelers to travel from community to community and then bicycle to their final destinations.

Many Amtrak routes across the county offer roll-on bike service allowing passengers to bring a bicycle on board train cars without having to check them as boxed luggage. Unfortunately, as of this date, no Michigan Amtrak lines allow for bicycles on board, including the Blue Water, Lake Shore Limited, and the Pere Marquette. All three of these routes use the same train equipment as Downstate Illinois Service and the Missouri River Runner, both of which allow for bicycles on trains.

Our state is home to a number of bicycle tours in or near Michigan communities serviced by Amtrak. By adding bike facilities on Amtrak trains, many Michigan communities could benefit from increased tourism spending, particularly from vacationing Chicago residents.

Southwest Michigan has a particular competitive advantage that could be leveraged through such a service. Not only does this part of the state offer numerous cycling opportunities, Chicago’s Union Station is less than a 3-hour train trip from destinations such as Niles, Dowagiac, and Kalamazoo. Many Chicago residents do not own an automobile and would prefer to not have to rent one to travel to and within Michigan. Allowing bikes on board would give these tourists the option to utilize Amtrak to visit our state. Without options to bring bicycles on board, Michigan is losing out on significant travel-related spending generated by bicycle tourism. In addition, commuters traveling within Michigan would also have additional transportation options.

Roll-on bike service for Michigan trains does not necessarily require new rolling stock. In many other states Amtrak offers on-board bicycle services in a variety of ways, including: bicycles stored onboard in bike racks; bicycles stored as checked baggage secured by tie-down equipment (not in a box); and by allowing folding bicycles to be brought onboard as carry-on baggage.


  • Amtrak routes out of  Chicago, using the same cars as Michigan, already allow bikes on trains.      Amtrak simply needs to update their online reservation system to make this feasible here.
  • Bicycle tourism is a booming industry, and bikes on trains could attract additional visitors. The Apple Cider Century, an annual one-day bicycle tour of the orchards, forests and wine country around Three Oaks, draws over 5,000 cyclists. Since 1974, it has been the Midwest’s largest one-day century event. Similar numbers participate in the Dick Allen Lansing to Mackinac Ride (DALMAC), which annually draws over 2,000 riders, typically from over 20 states.
  • Sec. 711. (5) of the 2011 Transportation budget states: “For rail passenger service supported in any part through capital or operating assistance from funds appropriated in this article, the department shall work with the rail carrier to  identify ways in which reasonable transport of bicycles by passengers can be accommodated.”

For more information visit: http://www.lmb.org/index.php/Advocacy/implement-bikes-on-trains.html