How to Take Your Bike on the Train

Two Methods:Riding Commuter or Local TrainsTaking your Bike on Long-Distance Trains

A number of commuter trains are bicycle friendly in different cities and countries, as long as you abide by the rules laid down by the train operator. If you are considering taking your bicycle onto a commuter train, a little research beforehand will help everything run smoothly and broaden your commuting and leisure opportunities.

Method 1
Riding Commuter or Local Trains

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    Plan out your route ahead of time, including transitions, walking, biking, and time of day. Unfortunately, there is no standard procedure when taking bikes on public transit. Some trains allow it, some only on certain hours, and other never at all. Coupled with any transitions you might make, such as switching to a bus or light-rail, and it may seem easier to skip the bike altogether. However, knowing your entire route in advance will make planning far easier. Google and Apple maps, for example, have extensive public transportation and bike maps that let you know all available routes, even mixed routes, after you type in your destination address.
    • If you need to take a bus, does the bus system accept bikes?
    • How far are you traveling when you get off the train? It might make more sense to lock the bike at the station if you get right off at your destination.
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    Call ahead or check your train's website to see if they accept bikes. Find out if there are any fees, restrictions, or requirements. The most frequent restrictions include:
    • Only riding in bike-designated cars.
    • No bikes during peak hours, frequently 8-10AM and 4-6PM
    • No bikes on crowded or packed cars.[1]
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    Allow extra time to get to your destination. Getting your bike up and down the stairs, through turnstiles, and on the train will inevitably take a little extra time, so plan accordingly. For short trips, and extra 5-10 minutes should be more than enough to get you there on time.[2]
    • Many stations do not let you bring a bike on an escalator for safety reasons, so be prepared to potentially haul up and down stairs.
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    Pay the correct fare. Purchase the fare for your trip, including fees for bringing your bike. Many trains require an additional amount to cover the bike.
    • If you can't get in the turnstile with your bike, signal the attendant. You can usually swipe your card/pay the fare, then enter through the emergency or handicapped entrance after paying.[3]
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    Stand on the platform. Stand with your bike on the platform behind the boarding line until the train comes to a stop. Wait for other passengers to exit and enter before boarding.
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    Board the train with your bike, standing along the side. Stow it away from doors and aisles, in a position where it won’t fall over and you can keep a hand on it. Try to turn the handlebars so that the wheels are in a straight line, out of the way of as many people as possible.
    • Use bike racks on the train if they are available, which usually involve wedging or lifting your front wheel into a small rack.
    • If there are other bikes on the train, place your front wheel near their back. These allows the bikes to fit together better and keeps the handlebars from jamming into each other.
    • Be sure your bike is secure if you're not holding it yourself. Don't leave it where other passengers can trip over it or run off with it. Make sure you can keep an eye on it.
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    Follow subway and train etiquette. The unwritten rules of a good train passenger will keep everyone happier as you move too and fro. When carrying a bike, let others on and off before you, respect the rules (no riding during rush hour or on crowded trains) and politely ask people move or adjust their bikes if you think you can fit them more snugly. And, if the ride is short and the train is crowded, just ride home. That's why you have the bike, after all.[4]

Method 2
Taking your Bike on Long-Distance Trains

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    Check your train's bike policy before booking a ticket. Amtrak, for example, lets you pack a bike in a box for $10, carry folding bikes on as luggage, and even offers several trains with walk-on bike cars. Every company is different, however, so don't just buy a ticket and expect your bike to get on easily. You need to do your homework ahead of time to make sure you can transport your bike effectively.[5]
    • Expect a handling fee for bicycles, especially if they are not boxed up.
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    Know that you may need to pack your bike in a box. This involves removing all the pieces, stripping off the handlebars, wheels, and pedals so that the bike fits in a large box. While you can usually get old boxes for free or cheaply by inquiring at your local bike shop, entrepreneurial packers can potentially fit the bike very large TV or appliance boxes.
    • If you are uncomfortable with bike mechanics, you may want to get your local shop to break down the bike for you. You can then take the bike to a local shop at your new location to get it back together, for a small fee.
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    Weigh all of your checked bags and the bike before you leave home. This may be important for ensuring you're not carrying too much on board. Check the train service's website for any weight restrictions. Amtrak, for example, has a 50lb limit. This, however, should be more than enough for your bike.
    • If you cannot weigh the bags at home, most Post Offices have a large scale you can use before you leave.
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    Show up well ahead of time to get your bike on the train. Talk to the staff at the station about where you need to be, protocol, and tagging your bike so you can get it later. For longer trips, or anything requiring that you dismantle your bike and pack it in a box, arrive an hour before departure.
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    Consider shipping your bike long distances. Many bike shops will break down, package, and ship your bike across the country for you at a nominal fee, usually $20-30 plus shipping. Shipping, however, can get expensive. If you want to do it yourself, you should remove the wheels, handlebars, seats, and pedals and pack them into a bike box or large TV box, then ship the package from a post office, UPS, or FedEx.


  • Superliners on Amtrak offer non-secure community baggage space downstairs for carry-on luggage and also have external compartments where baggage can be stored (external compartments can only be accessed by the conductor or car attendant and are only made available in special circumstances).

Things You'll Need

  • Bike
  • Fare
  • Suitable commuter train/subway/leisure trip train
  • Timetable and train rules on carrying bikes (check the train service's website)

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