U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand renewed her call for 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. Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, first urged Amtrak to make this change in May 2012. In her letter to Amtrak President and CEO Joseph H. Boardman today, Senator Gillibrand urged 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.”
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.