Bikes on South Shore trains to Chicago? We go for at test ride.

November 11, 2015

For as long as Dorreen Carey has been an avid cyclist — decades, in fact — she recalls how she and fellow bikers have yearned for it: “When will the South Shore allow bikes on its trains?”Website Insert New Passenger Train Service copy

Then, as Sunday dawns, she and I along with six others make local bike history. We roll our bikes onto the commuter train for a trip to Chicago, where we take a few hours to ride the city’s ample trails, then come home on the train.

We were testers, trying out the on-board bike racks that won’t become a public amenity until April. South Shore officials invited a select few of us as guinea pigs these past two weekends to look for potential issues. Advocates count the South Shore as the last commuter train in the country to finally permit bikes.

I am the first to roll my bike onto the train at South Bend International Airport. I quickly figure that I just have to push my front wheel into one of the 12 empty racks. It snaps into place. Later, when the other cyclists board at Dune Park, it goes just as easily, including for a 6-year-old boy whose bike remains upright even though its 14-inch wheel is too small to snap into place.

We take our seats right next to our bikes since the racks take up just one side of the train car, where a column of seats have been removed. That mimics how the South Shore will set it up in April, though with about 25 to 30 racks per train car. We can watch and make sure no one messes with our bikes. And it leaves plenty of room for people to walk down the aisle.

Bicyclist/writer Joseph Dits has the full story for the South Bend Tribune by clicking here.

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