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Officials discuss bicycle ordinances and safety tips in light of Joplin police officer recently injured in bicycle crash

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI - A Joplin police officer continues to recover following a bicycle crash last week.

In light of the incident, officials discuss bicycle ordinances and safety precautions.

Bicycling on the roadway presents a risk, even to the safest of cyclists.

Corporal Chuck Niess with the Joplin Police Department was participating in a Kansas bike ride, when a motorist failed to see him.

By the time Niess noticed the vehicle approaching him from behind, it was too late.

"What I can remember, and what people told me, is the way we hit, I probably got turned sideways a little bit, and the mirror hit me on the left side and broke some ribs," Niess said.

Niess was following recommended safety precautions, traveling on the right side of the road, and wearing his helmet and brightly colored clothing.

However, the actions of motorists can't always be anticipated.

"Bicyclists have to follow the rules of the road," said Lacey Baxter, bicycle officer with Joplin Police Department. "I would just tell the vehicle drivers just to be cautious. Be aware of the surroundings around you, and pedestrians and bicyclists have the right of way in most places on the road."

According to a Joplin city ordinance, it is illegal for bicyclists to ride on a sidewalk within a business district.

It is also required that cyclists use a light when riding in the dark.

"It's also a good idea to have a little red flashing light on the back of your bicycle even in the daytime because that gives a motion, so someone can focus on that motion and maybe see you a little more quickly," said Debra Johnson, owner of Bicycle Specialists in Joplin.

Niess says he is looking into using daytime lights in the future, knowing not everyone is always aware of who they share the road with.

"It could happen to anyone at anytime," he said.

"The drivers aren't paying attention to other drivers, so they're definitely not paying attention to someone on two wheels," Johnson said.

Johnson recommends beginning cyclists start in less traveled areas, or on one-way streets.

She also says a majority of roads in Joplin are safe for cycling, with the exception of 7th Street, Range Line Road, 20th Street and 32nd Street.
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