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Bicyclists and motorists soon will have to share roads in Cartha - KOAM TV 7

Bicyclists and motorists soon will have to share roads in Carthage

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Even though Mark Cox is riding a bicycle, he's taking a few steps back.

"When you're in a car, you're just zipping past stuff.  You never see what's truly out there.  You get on the bike, it gives you that second to look at architecture in the neighborhoods," says Cox.

Cox owns Blue's Bike Company in Joplin.  

When he heard about plans for more bicycle paths in nearby Carthage, he switched gears from being excited about the places he can bike right now, to the places he could ride in the future.

"Just giving us the opportunity, giving us a safe means of travel," says Cox.

But the safety will rely on cooperation between bike riders and vehicle drivers, as both will soon be sharing roads.

"Legally, a bicycle operating in a lane of traffic is exactly the same as a car.  So legally, they should already be cautious and vigilant," says Carthage City Councilman Brady Beckham.

Beckham says soon, streets like Centennial will have shared vehicle and bicycle lanes.

"Culturally, is the hope that they will see those "sharerows," as they are called, or will see the signs and become more aware," says Beckham.

Some residents we talked to are already cautious about just the idea of sharing a lane with bikes.  Other roads, though, like Garrison and Grand Avenues, will soon have a dedicated bike lane painted on the sides.

The city has budgeted $82,000 for this project, though specifics are still being worked on.

Beckham says, "We have 82 thousand dollars.  How far can we get?" 

An engineer will soon have an answer to that.  In the meantime, city officials are still asking for public input.  Because of this project, Mark Cox is anticipating growth in the sport.

"Gets future riders out there, seeing people riding and be like, oh hey, I can ride out there, too, myself," says Cox. 

City officials say this project will be a multi-year project, requiring more money later on, after the $82,000 runs out.  Officials want to start as soon as possible on redoing Garrison and Grand avenues.

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