I rode UTA’s FrontRunner commuter rail service from Ogden into Salt Lake City today. It’s a real treat to ride these trains. They’re safe, clean and fast and the crews are professional and pleasant.
I walked to the train station from our home on Ogden’s east bench. Since this was the first time I tried this, I wasn’t sure how long it would take. It’s a little over two miles and the roads and sidewalks were slick from a dusting of snow. There’s only one train per hour during the middle of the day and I didn’t want to miss it, so I left early and got to the station well before the train departed. It gave me a chance to poke around, observe and take some pictures.
I’ve written previously about how Utah officials envision a transportation future that assigns equal weight to personal automobiles, bus and rail transit and bicycles. The idea is pretty simple and very bold. The more we park our cars and choose combustion-free ways to move about, the better it is for the Wasatch Front. That’s reason enough to cycle. This is an incredibly beautiful place worth preserving.
When it comes to bikes on trains, UTA has pretty much thought of everything. There are plenty of racks and secure bike lockers if you want to leave your bike at the station. There’s even a bike maintenance stand with wrenches and a tire pump.
But why leave your bike all by itself when you can roll it right onto the train and bring it with you? My train had two bike friendly coaches with racks for 18 bicycles. The platforms are designed to allow boarding with no stairs. The aisles on the bike friendly cars are wide and easy to navigate, even when the trains are crowded.
This is more than just paying lip service or accommodating a noisy constituency. UTA is serious about bicycles on trains. They aren’t merely putting up with us. They’re welcoming us with open arms.
They built it and we’re coming. I counted twelve cyclists on my train alone. When I transfered to TRAX light rail at North Temple, there were more still. I watched them come and go. It was easy. There were no silly rules or obstacles to navigate. It’s seamless. It works because it was designed to work.
Perhaps the most exciting thing of all about my trip today was just how normal it all was…not only for the cyclists but also for the non-cycling passengers. It wasn’t a big deal. It was just another day on the train, sort of like, you know…
And yes, I know, too. This isn’t Amsterdam or Copenhagen…at least not yet, but as I think back on what I saw today and realize how far we’ve come, it isn’t all that much of a stretch to imagine that someday soon it will be. If it sounds like I’m excited, it’s probably because I am. I want to show you my new city, so if you find yourself in this part of the world and would like to ride, let me know. I’d love to ride along.