7 Things You Need To Know If You Plan To Take Your Bike on Amtrak
From Detroit to Chicago, all Michigan Amtrak trains are now bicycle friendly; here's what you need to know before you map out a new biking adventure.
Now, instead of loading your bike on the car, fighting traffic, paying outrageous rates for parking and renting a stupid blue bike, you can ride the rails and see Chicago landmarks on 2 wheels as Amtrak now lets you take your bike on the train.
Amtrak's Wolverine Line is the latest to add bicycle service with three daily round-trips between Pontiac and Chicago, via Detroit, Dearborn, Ann Arbor, Jackson, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Niles, Michigan City and other stops.
Here are 7 things to know before you go:
1. Bring extra money
- Once you buy your Amtrak ticket, the charge is only $10 extra to bring your bicycle on the train. Reservations are required.
- If you have a gear bag you'd like to stow at Union Station, the fee is $10.
- Two words: Café Car.
2. Arrive early
- It may take some extra time to get your bike into the train car and find a place to stow it- Amtrak recommends arriving 45 minutes before departure time.
- Also, remember to be patient with other passengers who are anxious to board the train.
3. Listen to the conductors
- The staff needs your patience too as they may still be learning the procedures, This is new for everyone but I found all of the Amtrak staff to be quite helpful.
4. Be prepared for some stares
- Yes, people will wonder why you have a bicycle on the escalator at Union Station.
- (Also, those shorts.)
5. Know how to ride in traffic
- Big city traffic can be intimidating. Buses, taxis and doors opening quickly can all be hazards. The best thing is that gridlock usually slows things down. As always, wear your helmet.
6. Don't miss Chicago's Lakefront Trail
- This is the reason to make the trip! It's my favorite place to bike; an 18 mile strip of pavement between Lakeshore Drive and Lake Michigan. Look left and you'll see the incredible skyscrapers of the Windy City, gaze to the right and take in the wonder of Lake Michigan. Along the way you see Chicago landmarks like Navy Pier, Soldier Field, Jackson Park, Lincoln Park Zoo and the Museum of Science and Industry.
7. Don't be late returning
- Remember to plan time to get through vehicle traffic, plus extra to navigate the pedestrians filling the corridors of Union Station to board your train on time for the return trip.
Seven tips on how to make the trip from Burdick Street to Union Station with your bicycle and ride on the other side of Lake Michigan. Be safe and have fun!