Photo by Charles Fulton, via Flickr

In a change that’s been years in the making, the MARC commuter train is now letting passengers load up their bikes on most weekday rush-hour cars on the Penn Line that runs from Perryville to Washington D.C. The announcement comes thanks to the installation of new bike racks on 35 rail cars, according to a Tuesday release from the Maryland Transit Administration. Until now, riders could only bring collapsible bikes on board. The Sun reported in 2017 that the effort to install the bike racks would cost the state nearly $200,000.

A few caveats: This is for the Penn Line only, which stops at Baltimore’s Penn Station; the racks are available first-come, first serve; and commuters are still advised to check the train schedule to see which cars have the racks (those that do will have a bicycle symbol), and to look for an illuminated green light on cars at the station, signifying that they’re bike-friendly.

In a statement, MTA Administrator Kevin Quinn said the change “enables even more of our passengers to combine exercise with their commute at the beginning and end of their trip.” Beyond the exercise factor, it’ll also allow cyclists to bring their bikes with them on their commutes, instead of having to park them at racks at stations or elsewhere.

Jed Weeks, policy director for local cycling advocacy group Bikemore, told Baltimore Fishbowl the change has been a long time coming.

For decades, statewide and local bicycle organizations have advocated for full size bikes to be allowed on weekday MARC trains like commuter rail lines in other regions,” he said. “Finally, it’s happened, because the current leadership and staff at MTA made it a priority. We thank them for promoting connectivity within our region.”

According to DCist, the MTA has offered bike-friendly trains on weekends since 2014, and has tested them out on other lines, including the Brunswick line connecting D.C. and West Virginia. The agency had originally planned to roll out Monday-Friday bike cars for all three of its lines by spring of last year.

MTA noted it has also installed bike parking at 11 MARC station and nine Baltimore Subway stations.

This story has been updated.

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...