Schuylkill River trail / Regional Rail bicycle access

Discussion in 'Philadelphia Transportation & SEPTA' started by dmun, Jul 11, 2018.

  1. dmun

    dmun Well-Known Member

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    I'm an out of towner who is planning this years long-form bike ride on a weekday in a couple of weeks. I'm planning to ride from Valley Forge to Philadelphia on the Schuylkill River trail, which Google maps says will be about a two and a half hour ride. As that is about as much as I want to ride, I was planning to take the regional rail back to Norristown. I'm wondering about the logistics of getting a bicycle onto regional rail.

    I'm assuming that it's easier to get a bike downstairs to Suburban Station than up to track level at 30th Street. Any comments? Are there ticket machines at track level, or do I have to buy a ticket first? Any comments about bike stowage aboard?

    Also any comments about the Schuylkill River trail would be appreciated. Is it paved? Well maintained? Signed?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    David
     
  2. Jayfar

    Jayfar I'm very oldĀ®

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    Parts of the trail I've seen are paved; in fact they just laid fresh asphalt last week on the section near Spring Mill.

    As to rail station access, both have elevator access to the platforms. Note the bike hours restrictions for regional rail below:

    On Regional Rail
    Two bicycles are permitted on each car in passenger service. Bicycles must be stored in areas designated as priority seating for persons with disabilities, which includes individuals with wheelchairs and senior citizens. When alighting, please wait until other passengers have exited the train.

    If a designated area is occupied by a priority seating passenger - or if a priority seating passenger boards after a bicycle is already onboard - then bicyclists will be directed to an unoccupied designated area or asked to leave the train and accept a "continuation of trip" voucher to finish the trip on another vehicle.

    Bicycles are allowed:

    On weekday trains except: morning inbound trains arriving at any Center City station** between 6:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.; and, afternoon outbound trains departing from any Center City station** between 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

    On all trains on Saturday, Sunday, and major holidays*.

    In the event of an emergency evacuation, bicycles left on trains may be claimed at Suburban Station.
     
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  3. Politburo

    Politburo Well-Known Member

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    Trail is not paved along the Manayunk canal, approximately from Shawmont Ave. to Lock St. It's a fine gravel and in my limited experience a road bike is still doable with caution, ymmv. Some small sections in this stretch are paved, and some is boardwalk. And there is an on-road portion (via Main St.) from Lock St. to Kelly Dr.

    To avoid you can go up Shawmont to Umbria Ave. (several climbs this way), connecting to Main St. and meeting up with the above on-road portion. Or as a bit of a detour when you get to the end of Umbria you can get to the Manayunk bridge, connect up to the Cynwyd Trail on the other side and go a bit up that, through the Cemetery and down to the Pencoyd Bridge which will hook back up with Main St. near Kelly Drive.
     
  4. dmun

    dmun Well-Known Member

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    Just a quick follow-up to my question. I took my bike trip yesterday, risking some rain, but all turned out well. The trail head in Valley Forge is a little hard to find, but has plenty of parking. Most of the trail is paved, smooth and wide, mostly unused on a weekday morning. One section was closed, diverting me on to a highway, quite hilly, past an actual steel mill (!). Most of the way is a rail-to-trail parallel to the regional rail tracks, but mostly raised above and shielded by vegetation, so you don't feel like you are riding on the railroad.

    As you approach philly, you cross the tracks, and it becomes the canal tow path. This section is a crushed stone surface, but smooth and well maintained. My hybrid bike did fine, even if I did wind up a little muddy from the previous nights rain. Some sections are rough timber, and a little rough, but again not a problem.

    At one point the trail ends and you travel a ways on a commercial street, crossing a little bridge, and turning right into Fairmont park. The rest of the trip is very attractive, passing the river, the boathouses (the only cafe/restroom on the route) and the museum. Here I turned off on Spring Garden and headed east to my destination, the US Mint.

    Heading back to Norristown, I went to suburban station, bought a paper ticket from the window, whereupon the person at the gate didn't want to let me through with my bike, even though it was well before 2. After some consultation, I was allowed down to track level, stowed the bicycle in a handicap spot, and had an uneventful ride to Norristown. The first Norristown station is right across from the bike path, but it is a low level platform, so it's a bit of an effort to get the bike off the train.

    All in all, a pleasant day. Thanks for your help.
     
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