Our Health in Action series profiles people in the community who are living Actively Northwest. Follow along each week as we profile new people who are committed to living active, healthy lives through fitness and food.
Seattle cyclists don’t need to look far for the latest news about traffic and safety changes around the city that could affect their bike commutes. Tom Fucoloro created Seattle Bike Blog after his journalism career took a detour and he landed in Seattle, without a car, and needed to bike to work. He keeps up with local government developments, construction projects and cycling events in the Seattle area.
ANW: Seattle Bike Blog is THE resource for bike commuters in the city. What inspired you to launch the site?
Tom: I was biking every day to work and became interested to know why the city was not doing more to make bicycling safe and easy. The Seattle Transit Blog touched on bike lane project news every once in a while, but no single reporter in the city seemed to give city cycling the daily attention it deserved. So I smashed together my desire to find a back door into journalism as a profession and my insatiable curiosity to learn more about transportation cycling. Turns out, a lot of people were looking for daily news about cycling in Seattle, too.
ANW: In a recent post, you talked about a new proposal to speed up the building of protected bike lanes. Is this the most exciting development for bike commuters right now?
Tom: For sure. Protected bike lanes in downtown Seattle are hugely important for the bikeability and walkability of the city. Cycling downtown is very intimidating. Protected bike lanes make busy urban streets safer and more inviting to people who would like to get around by bike. They’ve been extremely successful in other cities like New York to Vancouver, as well as in Europe. And they’re one key way to update our downtown streets to be vibrant and comfortable places.
ANW: Are there other future updates that you’re particularly excited about?
Tom: There’s a lot of untapped potential to connect and improve residential streets and create new ways for people to get around. One of the most amazing stories I’ve had the privilege of covering on Seattle Bike Blog is around neighbors organizing groups to promote safe streets where they live. These groups are mostly organized under the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways umbrella that was started by Cathy Tuttle, who is now the group’s director. In essence, neighborhood greenways are routes that connect friendly, but disjointed, residential streets to create complete walking and biking routes that link homes with neighborhood destinations (business districts, community centers, schools, parks and more). But, even more than just routes, neighborhood greenways can become places for neighbors to be neighborly and for kids to play. If we can slow the movement of cars just a bit, the feeling of safety increases immensely.
ANW: Where are your favorite places to go for a ride?
Tom: I like exploring places I’ve never been. Bicycling is a liberating experience, even if you’ve lived in one place for a long time. Bikes take you places where people who follow the same old busy car arterials rarely or never see. I am constantly stumbling on tiny spaces with magnificent vistas or little tucked-away cafes and bars that are off the beaten path. Seattle’s neighborhoods are amazing, and busy streets and bus routes only scrape the surface of what they have to offer.
ANW: Do you have an advice for those hesitant to start bike commuting?
Tom: First, know that you don’t need a special bike or equipment. So long as your bike rolls, stops and has lights, you’ll be able to get around town.
As for how to get over the hump and try it for the first time, that really depends on how you generally like to tackle new things. Do you jump in the swimming pool, or wade in? Many people just need to do it. One day, wake up a bit early, hop on your bike and just bike towards your work. You’ll probably be surprised how easy and fast it is.
If you’re nervous about your first time out during rush hour, you can try biking your route to work on a weekend with or without a friend to help guide you. This is especially helpful in the winter when some people commute during dark hours. But in the end, just take your time and remember there’s no shame in walking a stretch that seems scary or steep. Oh, and have fun!