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South Shore Line will let bikes back on its trains in April

Chris Kirby, of Indianapolis, loads his bike on a summer Sunday on a South Shore Line commuter train at Dune Park station in 2016. The South Shore Line brings back its bikes on trains program on April 1.

Cyclists can again take their bikes to Chicago for a spin on the South Shore Line in April.

Northwest Indiana's commuter rail service to the city is rolling out its Bikes on Trains program on April 1. Cyclists will be able to bring their bikes on two morning and two evening rush-hour weekday trains, as well as select weekend trains, from April through October 31.

First tested in 2015 and launched in 2016, the South Shore Line's Bikes on Trains program replaces some passenger seats in certain marked cars on the interurban train with bike racks.

The goal is to let commuters bike the last leg of their journey to work and enable cyclists to explore Chicago and other destinations along the South Shore Line on weekends.

“We’ve been getting some sunny days just in time to kick off Bikes on Trains this season,” said Nicole Barker, director of capital investment and implementation for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.

“We hope that more people who have not taken advantage of our bikes program yet will give it a try this season. Whether you need to get to work or to ride for recreation on weekends, Bikes on Trains makes it easy.”

No additional fare is collected for anyone who wants to bring a bike on a South Shore Line train.

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The special bike cars are laid out so that people can sit near their bicycles. The bike-rack equipped train cars are marked with bike symbols that are prominently displayed on the windows and identified on the South Shore Line timetable and app with bike icons next to the times.

Many trails are located at various points along the South Shore Line, including the East Bank Trail, the Erie Lackawanna Trail, the Northside Trail, the Monon Trail, the Riverside Trail, the Wolf Lake Trail, the West Bank Walkway, the Calumet Trail, the Kankakee Trail, the Bloomingdale Trail, the Lake George Trail and, of course, the Lakefront Trail along Lake Michigan in Chicago.

Bikes are not allowed when the trains are crowded for special events such as Lollapalooza, Taste of Chicago, the Chicago Blues Festival, and the Chicago Air & Water Show.

Cyclists are only allowed to board and disembark at the stations with high-level platforms, including South Bend, Dune Park, East Chicago, Hammond, Hegewisch, and all Metra stations in Chicago.

Recumbent bikes, cargo or kiddie trailers, and anything other than a standard two-wheel bike cannot be accommodated on the trains.

For more information, visit mysouthshoreline.com

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.