Device detects motorists buzzing cyclists

An avid cyclist from Ashwaubenon is spearheading an effort to educate motorists on the laws about passing bicycles on the road.

He showed us the new technology he hopes local police will use to help drivers and bikers share the road safely.

Peter Flucke has pedaled tens of thousands of miles across the U.S., in cities big and small and knows the drill -- wear bright colors, follow the same laws as motorists and always be alert.

But the concern comes not knowing what drivers will do.

"One of the things bicyclists are most afraid of when they're riding on the road is getting hit from behind," says Flucke, president of WE BIKE Etc.

One of Flucke's friends was killed on a bike when he was hit from behind on Mason Street in Green Bay in 1998.

That's partly why this former police officer is so passionate about education and thinks one small device could make a big difference.

"It uses ultrasound waves to measure the distance between the bicycle and the passing motor vehicle," described Flucke.

The device is called C3FT, pronounced see three feet, named to describe the law requiring motorists put at least three feet of space between a vehicle and bicycle.

Wisconsin was actually the first state in the U.S. to enact the law in 1973, but Flucke says many drivers still don't know about it.

"You'd think it would be logical right? You've got something as vulnerable as the human body up against a 4,000 pound vehicle, and to give that person room makes sense," he said.

The C3FT takes the guesswork out of the equation, detecting exactly how close, in inches, cars get to bikers.

"Right now you're at 60 inches, and as soon as you get to 36 inches, the alarm will sound," said Flucke, demonstrating by having us walk closer to his bike.

The system also records video proof from an attached Go Pro camera, which Flucke says can be helpful for officers to use in court.

He had us intentionally drive close to him, at less than 20 miles per hour on a quiet residential street, to show how it works.

The device beeps at anything closer than 36 inches, a scary situation for the biker and driver.

It's a situation Flucke says has happened to him time and again on the road.

"Oh, shoot. I've had people brush my shoulder," he said.

Flucke has the C3FT on loan from Bike Cleveland in Ohio, and is showing it to local law enforcement, including the Brown County Traffic Safety Committee, hoping police will use it for enforcement and education.

They tell us they're very interested and plan to research it more, especially with the addition of more and more bike lanes across the county.

Flucke says advocacy groups have covered the $1,400 cost in other communities, seeing a priceless value to helping educate and enforce the law.

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