Skip to main content

People who make a difference: Peter and Tracy Flucke

share arrow printer bookmark flag

August 23, 2023

ASHWAUBENON – When people in the Greater Green Bay community hear the names Peter and Tracy Flucke, many might say, “That’s the couple who rides their tandem bicycle.”

Though true, there’s more to the Fluckes than simply being a couple who gets from here to there on their two-wheeler.

They are volunteers, bicycle and pedestrian advocates, committee members, authors and business owners.  

“We like to say we look at the world through bicycle and pedestrian eyes,” Peter said. “When you have a complex problem, the key is breaking it down to its least common denominator. When you think about community, it’s about people and getting places. Everybody walks – even people in wheelchairs … that’s the least common denominator. If you drive somewhere, when you get out of your vehicle, you walk. The bicycle is the next increment and then driving.”

The couple said if you make a community better for bicycling and walking, you make the community better.

“With my role as a trustee (for the Village of Ashwaubenon), I like to say, ‘people first, property and everything else,’” Tracy said. “When we make decisions, I always ask, ‘how is this going to affect our people?’ If you get it right for the people, you get it right for everything else. I think I’ve made a difference (being on the board). At the very least, I’ve created awareness.”

A system for vehicles, not pedestrians, bicyclists
In the United States, Tracy said roads were mostly made for vehicle traffic, not for bicyclists and pedestrians.

“We have engineers and public works professionals who might think that way as well,” she said. “When roads are built or redone, many strictly think it’s for motor vehicles – that’s why our roads are the way they are.”

Thinking differently, Tracy said, can provide a positive outcome for motorists, bikers and walkers – which she said happened with the reconstruction project on College Avenue in Appleton.

“When they re-did College Avenue, which has more than 13,000 vehicles per day, it went from four lanes to three,” she said. “Bike lanes were added, and it still has sidewalks and parking. It has slowed traffic down, which makes it safer. If people can still get to a business, it can thrive. In the process, they’ve made it more friendly for walkers and bikers.”

Peter said the data shows a three-lane road is 29% safer than a four-lane road.

“People don’t drive as fast, and you don’t have the turning conflicts,” he said.

Bicycling in traffic, Peter said, is about educating yourself and others.

“We’re not afraid to ride in traffic because as bicyclists, we know the mistakes not to make – we wear bright clothing, ride in certain lane positions and stop for stop signs,” he said. “We also know the common mistakes vehicles make and look for those. Most bicyclists probably don’t feel safe on some roads, but we fix that by education and making the roads safer to begin with.”

Peter said some communities, like the City of De Pere, “get it.”

“Bicyclists need a place to park their bikes when they come to a business,” he said. “De Pere has a program where businesses can buy bike racks at a discounted rate, so we go to De Pere all the time. We can roll in and park our bikes. I’ve worked with many organizations in the area to put in bike racks.”

Peter and Tracy Flucke

Though Peter said “Green Bay is a great place to live and I don’t want to live anywhere else,” he said the city’s recent No. 1 ranking in the U.S. News & World Report also scares him a bit – from a “being ready standpoint.”

“Like it or not, because of various reasons, there’s going to be a massive influx of people moving into Northeast Wisconsin,” he said. “The risk I’ve seen with other places is they weren’t prepared for the influx. If we can encourage people to walk or bike to places to get that cup of coffee instead of driving, their quality of life will be better. If we don’t have sidewalks or safe bike routes, what are they going to do? They’ll get in their vehicles and drive. We bike to a lot of places – that’s less carbon emissions, one less vehicle on the road and one less parking spot taken.”

Fox River Trail work
The Fox River State Recreational Trail, an approximately 26-mile-long trail traveling from downtown Green Bay to near Hilbert, is a combination of pavement and crushed limestone.

Tracy is the president of the Friends of the Fox River Trail, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to helping the Brown County Parks Department with the maintenance and upkeep of the trail.

“The trail needs some love, but we’re almost to the end of our fundraising campaign of $2.3 million,” she said. “We have about $100,000 left to raise. We’ve been replacing some of the culverts, and in 2024, the northern section will be repaved. In 2025, they’ll pave about three additional miles from Eiler Road to the roundabout in Greenleaf at the intersection of Highway 96.”

Tracy said Brown County was also successful in securing grant funds.

“We’ve also had corporations and businesses give money, and the (Green Bay) Packers gave a ‘Give Back Award,’” she said. “We’d like to continue fundraising so we can start an endowment fund for future needs.”

The Fox River Trail – which was built in 2001 – Tracy said, has become the most heavily used recreational trail in the state.

“It’s hard to believe that back in the day, people were fighting against it going in,” she said.

Frogger – not the game
Peter said several years ago, Green Bay started a program called “Frogger,” which he helps with.

“The name came from the video game,” he said. “If you can imagine crossing a busy road at 4 p.m., what happens to the frog if it doesn’t work? Now you have a dead pedestrian.”

Peter said the Green Bay Police Department recognized that.

“I had been doing training on crosswalk safety enforcement nationally for about 20 years,” he said. “Three times per year, we do special crosswalk enforcement operations where we publicize the heck out of it – this day, this location, one of the local police departments will be enforcing the state law, which requires motorists to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.”

Peter said Northeast Wisconsin drivers “need some work.”

“We have the law, but culturally, we kind of ignore the pedestrians or speed up when we see one coming to the crosswalk,” he said. “We have a high – and skyrocketing – pedestrian fatality problem in Wisconsin because people are driving too fast and not paying attention. The most dangerous time for a pedestrian on a walk is when they are crossing the street – that’s why the crosswalks are there. If it’s not safe, we are just setting them up.”

Peter Flucke chats with a young girl about bicycle safety. Submitted Photo

Peter said the Frogger program fits in nicely with another Green Bay pedestrian safety initiative – flashing beacons.

“The city is installing 68 – I believe – of those rapid, rectangular flashing beacons,” he said. “Those lights alone get 50% more motorists to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. You couple that with enforcement, now we get close to 90% – so now the mom with the stroller can safely get across the street instead of playing frogger.”

Other involvement
The Fluckes also own and operate WE BIKE, etc., LLC, a company that specializes in the areas of engineering, education and enforcement for walking, biking and healthy communities.

“We are winding down a bit there,” Peter said. “We are still taking projects, but our goal is more of a supporting role to Wello, Bay Shore Bicycle Club and the Green Bay Bike Collective – they have the energy and mission, but we have 30 years of experience, training and contacts.”

The Fluckes are also members of the Greater Green Bay Active Communities Alliance – an organization that aims to create an active, connected community for all by focusing on engineering, education and enforcement.

Peter also serves on the Brown County Traffic Safety Committee.

“We meet quarterly, and we’re a statutory (required) committee,” he said. “We look at how motor vehicle versus pedestrian/bicycle crashes happen and what we can do to make it safer. I’m the education rep on the committee. We do a lot of connecting with our various groups.”

The Fluckes have taken several bicycle trips on their tandem and have written two books: “Coast to Coast on a Tandem” and “Bicycling Historic Route 66.”

“It’s been a crazy year for us,” Peter said. “With us trying to finish our Route 66 book, I’ve not changed my winter clothes over to my summer clothes and not washed the windows in the house.”

The Fluckes said their “Coast to Coast on a Tandem” book was more about “can we make it across the country, and how do we do that?”

“Our second book is more about the heat, humidity, wind and being in the mountains,” Tracy said. “The book should be done soon.”

share arrow printer bookmark flag

Trending View All Trending