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Bike Train helps Ontario's cyclists get away from it all

Could Eurostar learn a lesson from Canadian venture? They already do ski trains...

Cyclists in Britain may bemoan the lack of provision given over on trains to enable them to take their bikes with them on their journeys, but for some of their counterparts in Canada that isn’t a problem, with news of the expansion of the Bike Train network in Ontario.

Throughout the spring, summer and autumn, the Bike Train initiative allows cyclists to get away for a weekend with their bicycles on selected services, which travel in a dedicated luggage car equipped with bike racks, to recreational trails and road routes throughout the province.

Train staff give information on the routes at the destination and also hand out free maps, while the journey also gives the opportunity to meet like-minded souls.

The award-winning initiative, which also has the effect of boosting tourism in the destination areas, was the brainchild of Toronto cyclist Justin Lafontaine, who came up with the idea on a trip to the Niagara region in 2006, when he discovered that unless you boxed your bike up and took it on the bus, there was no convenient public transport option for cyclists wishing to access the area.

Bike Train is operated by a not-for-profit organisation called Transportation Options using existing VIA Rail services, adding a baggage car that can take 56 bikes, and first launched on the Toronto-Niagara route in 2007.

Since then other services have been added in the region, including North Bay, the St. Lawrence Seaway and Windsor/Essex County, with three new routes announced this month.

With Eurostar already operating a ski train to the Alps between November and April each year, could there be an opportunity for a similar service, albeit occasional, dedicated to cyclists?

Next year’s Etape du Tour looks likely to take place in the Alps - the rumoured finish is at Alpe d'Huez - and many other cyclists from the UK are likely to want to watch the Tour in the mountains and do a bit of riding without necessarily taking part in the Etape, so we reckon there would be a decent level of demand for it.

 

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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5 comments

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skippy | 13 years ago
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Whilst Dave Miller was riding the 2003 ITT in Nantes i was on the TGV( only available option so they said)
!
Arrived with boxed bike after the Station master sold me the ticket, the conductor however was having none of it! It was his Train so his decision, the S/master did some swift/heavy talking and i suffered all the way to Paris.

Point is there may be a ticket and you may have done all correctly and then along comes some "jumped up official" who enjoys "dishing dirt" and you may find your plans out the window. Even after buying bike tickets on Italian Inter City trains their Railway Police have disembarked me to a regional with NO REFUND of the extra fare paid.

No matter what i am told these days i find H/hiking less hassle than the train, and as for Eurolines , the driver will take a bribe for as far as he is going and then you start over !

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Viro Indovina | 13 years ago
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BTW

Brigton's got a Bike Train already.

VI

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Simon_MacMichael replied to Viro Indovina | 13 years ago
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Viro Indovina wrote:

Brigton's got a Bike Train already

Indeed, and it doesn't even need rails, so no problems with leaves on the line  3

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Viro Indovina | 13 years ago
0 likes

I wish British rolling stock could get the cage-carriages put back on.

They were the shizz.

And I actually felt less ostracized
hanging out in the storage unit of
old slam door trains than I do now
in turd class.

VI

Avatar
STATO | 13 years ago
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Forget road bikes, a eurostar-biketrain to whole mountain ranges full of lift accessed mountainbike trails would be full almost instantly (assuming it wasnt an absoloute rip-off like airline bike/baggage charges)

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