Amtrak, a folding bike, and a trip from Boston to Baltimore

Last month I learned that the MBTA will happily whip out the double-decker cars to accommodate 230 people and their full-sized bikes. Today I learned that nobody at South Station knows about the Amtrak folding bike policy,

Amtrak’s bike policy allows passengers to bring folded folding-bikes on cars with them as carry-on baggage, whereas full sized bikes must be disassembled, stuffed into a cardboard box Amtrak sells for $20, and checked in.

I was heading to Baltimore to visit my brother for his college graduation, so thanks to my generous roommate who lent me his folding bike for the weekend (the same folding bike I borrowed a few months ago when my brake lines froze), I was able to bike to South Station on a borrowed Dahon, fold it up at the station, and bring it with me onto the passenger car.

Picking up my ticket at the booth, the attendant who handed me my ticket told me I had to box up my bike before boarding and looked confused when I told her Amtrak allows folding bikes on without being boxed. She let me go once I showed her how small it folded up into.

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As I was folding my bike on the platform, the on-duty police officer came up to me and told me the same thing the Amtrak ticket-woman had. He looked skeptical when I asserted Amtrak’s folding-bike-friendly policy and stood by me as the conductor who checked me ticket didn’t even give a second look at the folded bike I was carrying in my hand. The police officer grinned, and I smiled back.

At first I put the folded bike down on the open area for baggage, but knew that if I took a nap or left my seat a bike like this one might grow a pair of legs, so I put it in the oversized luggage compartment and u-locked it to the railing.

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Arriving in Baltimore, I had a five-minute ride to my brother’s place and a bike to explore with. Coming back to Boston will be just as easy. Not bad.

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5 Responses to Amtrak, a folding bike, and a trip from Boston to Baltimore

  1. mtalinm says:

    I keep a linkon my phone to the MBTA bike policy for just this reason. seems I should do the same for Amtrak, thanks for the tip

  2. konrad says:

    I’m surprised how much you got hassled before you even boarded the train. Anyway, it’s nice to know that this policy exists.

  3. I’ve taken my folding bike on Amtrak a number of times, and have had maybe only one Amtrak attendant say that bikes aren’t allowed on the train – but then I told her their policy re FOLDING bikes. How can the Amtrak personnel not even know their own policy??! Strange. Good idea to lock up your bike while it’s on the train…just in case. It’s great to be able to have your folding bike with you on Amtrak (or on Megabus, etc.). 🙂 Just unfold it and ride off! 🙂 🙂 Enjoy! Charmaine

  4. Rebecca says:

    I took my Dahon on the train to the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC. I had my small duffel bag with all of my stuff strapped on from the moment I left my house until I reached Hostel International. I hadn’t expected any trouble about bringing it on the train & no one hassled me. I guess I was just lucky. Maybe next time I take the train, I’ll keep a copy of the Amtrak policy with me. It feels great traveling this way!

  5. Pingback: My New Loves: A Folding Bike and the West Coast | theHumble Cyclist

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