Advocacy Result: U.S. House votes to support bicycle roll-on on Amtrak

Yesterday the Lipinski Amendment in support of bicycle roll-on on Amtrak trains nationwide passed a vote on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by an overwhelming voice vote.

Easy roll-on of bicycles--as shown in this photo--could soon become standard on
Easy roll-on of bicycles--as shown in this photo--could soon become standard on Amtrak in Missouri and across the U.S.

Not only did the amendment pass the full House, but the bicycle roll-on issue made very important progress by gaining the support of Chairman Shuster, sponsor of the overall Amtrak funding bill. 

Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL--sponsor of the roll-on amendment), Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pennsylvania), and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR--co-chair of the House Bicycle Caucus) spoke in favor of the amendment on the House floor.

It is very important to have bi-partisan support for our issues in the House, but it is also particularly important to have the support of the bill's sponsors--because they will be the primary voices when the bill goes to Conference Committee.  Shuster's support could very well make the difference in whether the roll-on provision survives in Conference Committee with the Senate.

What is next for the Amtrak funding bill?

The Amtrak funding bill now goes to the Senate. Since the the bicycle roll-on provision has passed the House, it is much more likely to to survive in the final bill. Support for issues like this is greater in the Senate than in the House; getting them passed in the House is the most difficult hurdle. 

What does the Bicycle Roll-On Amendment do?  

The overall Amtrak bill, HB 749, funds Amtrak for the next several years, with various provisions to reform and streamline Amtrak operations.

A part of the bill requires Amtrak to create a report to Congress dealing with improving Amtrak's boarding procedures and then work to adopt the recommendations .  The Lipinski Amendment requires, as part of this larger report, that Amtrak the issue of bicycle and wheelchair boarding at Amtrak stations. 

 

[Amtrak shall issue a report that . . . ] makes recommendations, as appropriate, to improve Amtrak’s boarding procedures for passengers, including passengers using or transporting nonmotorized transportation such as wheelchairs and bicycles, including recommendations regarding the queuing of passengers and free-flow of all station-users.

The practical result of the Amendment, will that this report will lead to a solidification of the movement towards providing for bicycle roll-on on all Amtrak trains across the country.  We anticipate that bicycle and disabilities groups will be asked involved in the creation of the Amtrak report and that this will create the opportunity to create national standards for bicycle and wheelchair roll-on on Amtrak routes.

We are very pleased that our positive experience in Missouri with bicycle roll-on on the Missouri River Runner Amtrak route has helped to shape the national conversation about the importance of bicycle roll-on access on Amtrak trains.

The amendment had the support of all the major national bicycle groups that we partner with--the League of American Bicyclists, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the Adventure Cycling Association, People for Bikes, and AARP, and a number of disabilities-related organizations. Rep. Lipinski read out a list of national organizations supporting the amendment during his floor speech. 

Easy bicycle roll-on on Amtrak - coming soon to Missouri (Photo courtesy Matt O’Toole, Virginia Bicycle Federation)
Easy bicycle roll-on on Amtrak - coming soon to Missouri (Photo courtesy Matt O’Toole, Virginia Bicycle Federation)

MoBikeFed is pleased to have able to serve on a national committee organized by the League of American Bicyclists to help research and build support for this issue.  The work of the committee together with the support of our elected officials in Washington and their staff members led to the successful amendment today.

Major thanks and kudos go to the League of American Bicyclists for spearheading the work on the Lipinski Amendment.

Thanks to everyone who contacted your member of Congress on this issue!

New Amtrak cars with greatly improved bicycle roll-on capabilities coming to Missouri soon

MoBikeFed has been part of a nationwide group working on this issue--Missouri's positive experience with allowing bicycles to roll-on Amtrak's Missouri River Runner has been one of the models we have been looking at in the effort to take bicycle roll-on capability to Amtrak trains nationwide.

MoDOT is in the process of purchasing new train cars for the Missouri River Runner and other Amtrak routes in Missouri, that will greatly improve bicycle roll-on capability.

The new Amtrak cars will hold many more bicycles, and they will also allow bicycles to be rolled on very easily--a big improvement over the current system which requires carrying your bicycle up several steep steps and around a sharp corner.

More information about bicycles on Amtrak in Missouri:

 

2015 National Bike Summit Coverage

Thanks for taking the time to contact your elected representative--it really does make a difference!

 

Building a world-class transportation system for bicycling and walking in Missouri is one of the four primary goals in MoBikeFed's Vision for Bicycling and Walking in Missouri. Allowing easy intermodal use of our national transportation system--like bicycle roll-on for Amtrak--is one way we can reach that goal. Developing relationships with Missouri's Congressional delegation to encourage them to support better, safer bicycling, walking, and trails in Missouri is another way.

Your ongoing membership and generous financial support helps turn out Vision into reality!

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