JOPLIN, Mo. — Local bicycle repair and skate shop TLC Cycles hopes to help bring cycling to the next level in Joplin.

Shop owner Paris Skaggs says that cycling “promotes good health and allows for better transportation,” among other benefits.

But currently, transportation via bike riding in Joplin is difficult due to the city’s poor connectivity.

“A lot of people can’t get from point A to point B when it comes to biking, just because there’s not any good bike lanes. Every bike lane in Joplin is like two miles long and dead-end on both ends. So it’s almost pointless. We’re working towards something better,” said Skaggs.

Skaggs compares Joplin’s limited cycling accessibility to the cycling scene in Arkansas.

“I think it’s important because, for one, it’s fun and healthy, and I can personally see the economical benefits that Arkansas is having — specifically Northwest Arkansas — it’s just bringing in so much tourism and so much money and really kind of an entire scene with it,” he said.

The Razorback Regional Greenway, a 36-mile shared-use trail that extends from north Bentonville to south Fayetteville, is a staple for the Arkansas community. The city also features miles of connected single track trails, several bike parks and more.

“All of that combined allows it to be what it is. And we’re so close that we could just feed off of that,” said Skaggs.

Future plans

As part of a ten year parks plan, of which Skaggs was a public engagement participant, Joplin is set to develop new trails and shared use paths to “improve connectivity” before 2031.

“It’s a start” that would open up the city to cycling in general, says Skaggs.

TLC Cycles plans on donating public bicycle repair stands to the trails so people can repair their bikes on the go.

To further the cycling movement and give kids a place to improve their skills, Skaggs proposes that the city also build bike riding amenities in the McClelland area of Joplin.

“Adding something like a bike park to McClelland, which would consist of single track trails in the woods, maybe running along the creek, and a kids’ bike play ground which allows little kids of all ages to push their skills and learn things,” he said.

Skaggs, who started out skateboarding growing up, also has big plans for the future of the Joplin Skatepark.

“Personally and as a shop, I want to form a Joplin Skatepark Coalition,” said Skaggs.

Skaggs wants to create an official voice for the skatepark. This would formally address issues like lighting in the park which creates “danger zones” at night.

“Currently the skatepark is a group in Joplin that is undefined. There’s not like a committee or anything surrounding the skatepark yet. There’s not anybody that can speak for the park and have an official say on things,” he said.

About TLC Cycles

Before opening TLC Cycles, located at 705 Illinois Ave Suite 24 in Joplin, Skaggs worked as a bike shop mechanic for seven years.

“After years of working at a bike shop, I felt the need to do it on my own… And so I just kind of took a leap of faith and through all the Coronavirus stuff, I made it happen,” he said.

TLC Cycles opened in November 2020. While the shop started out focusing on bicycle repairs, they now offer so much more.

Shortly after opening, owners of the skate brand Relentless approached Skaggs asking if they could use his floor space to sell their products. Skaggs had planned on selling skate gear and other accessories eventually, but this gave Skaggs the kick-start he needed to get those products in the shop sooner.

By the end of December, the shop began offering skateboards and everything you need for them, BMX parts and accessories, pro scooter gear and more.

TLC Cycles hopes to one day sell bikes as well.

TLC Cycles is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

To stay up to date or learn more, visit TLC Cycle’s Facebook page or their website.