Active Transportation Alliance: Allow bikes on South Shore Line

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The Active Transportation Alliance wants the South Shore Line to allow bicycles. | Sun-Times file photo

A Chicago bike advocacy group is calling out the railroad company that operates the South Shore Line between South Bend and Chicago because it’s the only commuter line in the nation that doesn’t allow passengers to bring their bicycles aboard.

The Active Transportation Alliance recently announced that it was lobbing the ignominious Broken Spoke Award at the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates the interstate rail line.

“Yes, that’s right, out of nearly two dozen commuter train lines in the nation, the South Shore Line is in a truly embarrassing league of its own,” according to a statement posted last week on the Alliance’s website.

The South Shore is considering a pilot program allowing bikes, said railroad spokesman John Parsons, but “that’s still in the study stages. Nothing has been decided.”

One complication, Parsons said, is that giving up some space to bicycles could affect riders with disabilities.

“We don’t want that to happen. . . . There would be competition between the storage of bicycles and spaces for people with disabilities.”

The Alliance is encouraging people to attend a public hearing on the pilot program from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 16 at the Indiana Dunes Visitors Center, 1215 State Road 49, in Porter, Indiana.

The South Shore’s bicycle study should be complete by summer’s end, Parsons said, so they will see what the consultants recommend “and go from there.”

“We want to do everything we can to permit a safe transport of bicycles and the balance of our passengers and make sure that’s integrated effectively into our seating arrangements,” he said.

The Alliance also pokes the railroad company for standing in the way of creating a new Burnham Greenway connector trail that would link the Chicago lakefront to trails in the south suburbs, including the Cal-Sag Trail.

There is a 2-mile gap in the trail that forces cyclists to navigate unsafe intersections and roads.

“The trail can’t be built without crossing the South Shore Line tracks near the Hegewisch neighborhood of Chicago and suburban Burnham,” according to the Alliance, which encourages people to sign an online petition urging action.

Contributing: Jordyn Holman

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