I’m on my way to Vancouver, WA, with a Brompton full of books. A bike to Link to Amtrak adventure is a lovely way to start a day.
I’m giving a book presentation and selling copies at the Vancouver Bicycle Club meeting, 5pm at the Aero Room this evening (Nov. 8).
It’s amazing how much less stressful and complicated train travel is compared to flying. The scenery is amazing, they have regular power outlets, and you can use your phone like normal. And, of course, you emit vastly fewer emissions along the way.
I don’t think most people yet understand how much they will love high speed rail when we finally get around to building it. The biggest issues holding rail travel back are speed and reliability, and building high-speed dedicated tracks will solve both those issues. The Washington State legislature funded some early planning work for a high-speed upgrade for the Cascades route, and that work is ongoing.
Bringing a bike on the Amtrak Cascades is super easy, for example, which is absolutely not the case with an airplane. If you buy your ticket early enough, you can reserve a bike spot for a regular-sized bike. Then you just wheel it up to the baggage car where a worker will take it from you.
In my case, all ten bike spots were taken by the time I bought my ticket. But I have a Brompton folding bike, which you can fold and bring on board as luggage. There’s a luggage area at the end of each car, but it can also fit in the luggage space above the seats if needed. There’s no need to stress about where it will go.
I have flown with a Brompton, and it is doable. But it was a bit stressful. Sometimes you have to gate check it, and sometimes you can lug it on with you and put it in the overhead bin. And every once in a while, you encounter an airline employee who wants to charge you their $75 (or worse) bike fee even though it is smaller and lighter than many suitcases.
Then once you land, most airports don’t have good bike access. So you likely need to haul your bike onto transit or a cab. Train stations, on the other hand, are very often in great locations for biking. Step off the train, load your bags on your bike, and you’re ready to ride to your destination or start exploring.
UPDATE: Is this the world’s largest bicycle wheel? Inside Bortolami’s Pizzeria in Vancouver, WA.