Bike Blog Founder Honored for Helping Create a More Bikeable Seattle
Tom Fucoloro is the 2023 winner of the Doug Walker Award, given annually to someone whose work has improved lives through bicycling.
Fucoloro will be honored at Cascade’s annual Bike Everywhere Breakfast on May 4.
Seattle Bike Blog founder Tom Fucoloro is super busy these days with his first book about to be published, plus a never-ending list of blog posts to write.
Even so, he begins most days with a bike ride: a 10-mile round trip on the family’s electric cargo bike to drop off his five-year-old daughter at preschool.
The rides are a chance to get some morning exercise, spend time with his daughter, and ride on the bike lanes and infrastructure his reporting helped create. For the past 13 years, Fucoloro has spent countless hours exploring Seattle from behind the handlebars.
On May 4, Cascade will give Fucoloro the annual Doug Walker Award at the Kaiser Permanente Bike Everywhere Breakfast in recognition of his service to the Seattle bike community.
Founded in 2010, the Seattle Bike Blog is a go-to source for information about bike advocacy, infrastructure projects, rides, bicycling personalities, and more. Cascade staff members including Executive Director Lee Lambert are regular readers of Seattle Bike Blog.
“Anyone who rides a bike for transportation in Seattle or who cares about making the city more bikeable should read the blog,” Lambert says. “Tom has done a great job of informing the public and pushing policymakers to create more safe and protected bike infrastructure.”
Fucoloro is proud to have played a role in shaping Seattle’s bicycling culture and infrastructure. “It’s such a dream job to be able to bike around, talk to people, document events and learn about people’s stories,” he says.
Register for the Bike Everywhere Breakfast to hear Fucoloro’s acceptance remarks as well as a keynote address from Dongho Chang, Washington state’s traffic engineer. Cascade will provide bike valet parking, breakfast, a new video with diverse voices from the state’s bicycling community–plus lots of inspiring content related to our theme of “Building a Bikeable Future.”
Seattle City Council Member Tammy Morales, seen here on her electric bike, will be featured in the "Building a Bikeable Future" video.
Moving to Seattle and Founding the Blog
Fucoloro sold his car to fund his move to Seattle from Denver in 2009 along with his spouse, Kelli. They have lived car-free ever since. “It was one of the best decisions I ever made,” he says of eliminating the expense and hassle of motor vehicle ownership.
As a Seattle newbie, Fucoloro explored the city by bike and did odd jobs for a year. There was virtually no safe and protected bike infrastructure at the time, aside from the Burke-Gilman Trail, and daily bike commuters and riders had to share the lanes with cars. The few bike lanes that did exist often ended abruptly and dumped people back onto busy roads.
Fucoloro hoped to become a newspaper reporter, but with mainstream news jobs rapidly disappearing, he realized that Seattle needed a full-time bike reporter on the beat.
Founding the Seattle Bike Blog in 2010 was a labor of love. Over time he gained readers, advertisers, and donors, and the blog has since become his full-time job and sole source of income.
During its 13 years, the Seattle Bike Blog played a crucial role in documenting and winning public support for many of the bike improvements we see today.
Fucoloro says the blog helped spur the creation and proliferation of neighborhood safe streets organizations such as Central Seattle Greenways and others. “The message was: you can start your own group. Just call a meeting and ask people to show up.”
Seattle Bike Blog was also a key source for the creation of Seattle’s 2014 Bicycle Master Plan. “I think the plan ended up being a lot better due to the blog’s reporting,” he says. “To the point where I was actually listed as one of the contributors (along with Cascade) when the plan won a Design Excellence Award.”
The blog also helped establish the annual, pre-Thanksgiving Cranksgiving food bank rides that helped inspire Cascade’s Pedaling Relief Project, which does food rescues and deliveries on behalf of Seattle-area food banks.
Rallying participants at Cranksgiving Seattle 2022.
Asked to sum up the state of bicycling in Seattle, Fucoloro says bike advocates are constantly battling between two truths. “One truth is that we are so far behind and we need to go faster on creating safe bike routes.”
The other truth, he says, is that “we’ve come a long way. You can now bike all the way through downtown on protected bike lanes. When I first suggested on the blog that we needed to push for bike routes through downtown people scoffed at the idea.”
People on bikes can now cross downtown on the 2nd Avenue or 4th Avenue protected bike lanes as part of the Seattle Bike Network Cascade helped advocate for–among many other segments of protected bike infrastructure developed over the past decade.
The History of Bicycles in Seattle
In August, the University of Washington Press will publish Fucoloro’s book: “Biking Uphill in the Rain: the Story of Seattle from Behind the Handlebars.”
“More than just a mode of transportation, the bicycle has been used by generations of Seattleites as a tool for social change,” says a blurb on the UW Press website where you can pre-order the book.
Fucoloro initially planned to write about Seattle’s bike culture. The book ended up being a historical account of Seattle’s growth and transformation through the lens of bicycles.
Bikes have been part of Seattle from its earliest days, he says, noting that package delivery giant UPS was founded as a two-person bike messenger service in Pioneer Square.
Another historical fact he covers in the book is the Post World War II bike touring and youth hosteling movement in Seattle. “There was a floating hostel on Lake Union with a bike shop in it, and anyone visiting Seattle could go on organized bike rides around the city.”
The only downside of writing the book was that it diminished the time he could spend writing blog posts. “I’m really excited to be able to get back to the blog and spend more time there.”
Finishing the book also means he will have more time to ride.
In addition to the electric cargo bike that he and Kelly use for bringing their daughter Fiona to school, shopping, and family bike trips, Fucoloro owns a “Daddy road bike” with a kid seat on the top bar, and a Brompton folding bike with a child seat attachment.
Fucoloro proudly reports that Fiona just began pedaling on her own within the past month. Her interest in bicycling is exciting–though it comes with a cost.
After pedaling on her own around a tennis court for about 30 minutes recently, Fiona rode up to her father with a request: “Daddy, I want a new bike.”
Hear more from Tom Fucoloro starting at 7 a.m. on Thursday, May 4, at the Sheraton Grand in downtown Seattle, and come learn about how we can all work toward Building a Bikeable Future.