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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Wisconsin Bike Fed Wants Pilot Bike Train

by Larry Lagarde

There is a synergy going between Chicago and Milwaukee. Being less than 100 miles apart makes it enticing to travel between both cities for business and pleasure. Members of the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation and the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation even commute to work from Milwaukee by train. Thus, it comes as no surprise that there is tremendous interest in the region for a Milwaukee-Chicago bike train. In fact, the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation recently sent Amtrak a letter asking that a pilot Amtrak bike train service be initiated between the cities.

Here's what they wrote:
February 26th, 2008

Jerome Trahan
Amtrak Field Marketing Senior Officer

Dear Mr. Trahan:

As you know, the Amtrak Hiawatha line that runs between Milwaukee and Chicago has a high volume of commuters and day trippers. As it is right now, bikes must be boxed and an extra baggage fee assessed, making it difficult for people wanting to take their bike on a trip to either city. It is our belief at the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin making it easier for cyclists to take their bike on the Hiawatha and Empire Builder lines by installing bike trains will increase ridership.

Many people in the region also use the Empire Builder line between Chicago, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis. This train also stops just 20 miles north of another large cyclist population hub in Madison, WI. As with the Hiawatha, there are lots of commuters who travel between Milwaukee and Madison. Allowing riders to simply hop on and off with their bikes it would create a viable transportation alternative.

The goal of The Bicycle Federation is to make Wisconsin a better place for bicycling. We also feel that in order to help create a better environment for easy and safe bicycling we must work to integrate the use of bicycles into mass transit options. One example is our Bike Racks on Buses campaign which has drawn much support from the community and businesses in the Milwaukee area. We feel that in addition to the Bike Racks on Buses campaign, equipping Amtrak trains with bike racks would be beneficial to commuting cyclists.

The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin fully supports any programs that make it easier to travel with a bicycle in conjunction with mass transit options. We feel that the Amtrak pilot bike train project would be beneficial not only to Milwaukee and the surrounding areas but to Amtrak itself. If you or any of your colleagues have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to working with you to make this project a reality.

Jacob Newborn
Project Coordinator, Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin



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