IT IS SPRING SO MAY MUST BE BIKE MONTH
It always happens and it is happening more and more when May comes around that people just heed the good word and get on their bicycles as opposed to other travel modes they might usually experience. May, indeed, is Bike Month. Yours truly will be supporting several events that the CCJPA will be involved in around our service area; one for certain is the May 9 Capital Region Bike Fest in Sacramento on the West steps of the Capital. Other events led by the East Bay Bicycle Coalition will feature Capitol Corridor discounts and giveaways. In the spirit of May is Bike Month, here’s how we’re planning on transporting our event items from the train station in Sacramento to theCapital Region Bike Fest event:
DUDE – WHERE’S MY BIKE CAR?
Even before a month like May is upon us, there are simply a whole bunch of bicycles making their way on to the Capitol Corridor trains. If you have not noticed, there are some retrofitted cab cars out there that hold quite a few more bicycles than they used to before. These retrofits join with our already outfitted cab cars to generally (as in most of the time, but not always…more on that in a bit) provide the bicycle storage capacity you out there need on the train. Each car in the fleet, except the food service cars and the occasional Superliner car have the existing bicycle racks but only hold three official bicycles. So, in general, the answer to where will you find bicycle parking can be best accommodated in the cab car (that would opposite from the locomotive end of the train and in normal operations mode, the car on the most northern part of the train). But that doesn’t always hold…
Sometimes there are some of the non-retrofitted cab cars out there (the seven slot variety) which are yet to go in for their upgrade and then, suddenly, there are fewer bicycle slots out there. And on a really bad day, there are no other options and maybe a four-car trainset. Those are not fun days for anyone but, sometimes due to stuff that goes on out there in the world, the Amtrak team, try as they might, have to put out a sub-standard trainset just to fill a slot. BELIEVE ME – we hear about it and at times I am a witness to those unfortunate situations. And then we make sure that we try to get that transet swapped out or fixed in some manner as soon as we can. But sometimes there is a bright spot and that would be the 8200 series of cars which are often times placed right behind the locomotive…those are also bicycle friendly cars. So, if you see one of those, head that way too. But maybe in an early morning or at the end of a long day that is all too much to remember and that is why the CCJPA and Caltrans (who owns the cars) will be putting large “stickers” on the bicycle cars so that when you see the train, you can get your bicycle in position to board. You are getting the scoop on these stickers but it will still be some time before they will show up because, frankly, we are busy lot here at CCJPA and Caltrans, and there are numerous steps to go through but they should show up sometime this summer.
One of the other questions you may now be asking is “When are you ALWAYS going to have a bicycle car in the trainset?” I will be blunt and tell you that I was hoping for June but we now know that probably won’t happen until later in the year mainly due to other retrofits that these cars have to go through (Positive Train Control – or PTC – retrofits are delaying that schedule). So until we get to this point we will be juggling cars to try and provide as complete a trainset as possible…and that is why we are not yet at the point of requiring stricter storage requirements for your bicycles on the train. That does not mean that a conductor might not have to take action to deny some people and their bicycles if the conductor determines conditions are unsafe while we are going through this transition. Hopefully we can avoid those situations but we just don’t have the equipment at our disposal to provide you the best-of-conditions at this time. So, those of you who can obtain folding bicycles, please do so – you will make room for others – and those of you who take your bicycles, please work with each other and the conductor to keep your bicycles outside of the aisles and stay with them if necessary so you can monitor the conditions your stored bicycle is creating.