Some motorcyclists marred a Main Street cruise night Saturday by blocking intersections to other motorists and lashing out at police who tried to stop them.
Information about the incident was discussed at a Joplin City Council meeting Monday night.
Two residents, Michael Hendrix and David Clevenger, last year were allowed by the council to resume Main Street cruises after a 28-year ban of cruising because of issues with vandalism and littering on the parking lots of businesses, noise, fights, public nudity and other incidents that happened with cruising prior to the ban in 1992.
Police Sgt. Jared Delzell said then that police would be monitoring the cruise nights to encourage safety.
“We will have officers present at this event to ensure everyone is following the traffic rules and maintains safe driving behaviors,” he said. “Careless driving, excessive noise and, in a few cases, people hanging outside vehicle windows were a few of the issues we saw at the last (April 2020) event. Those types of actions are obviously something we want to avoid occurring, so our officers will be watching for those and any other actions that jeopardize safety and ultimately the ability to have an event like this in the future.”
Cruisers are not supposed to drive north of Ninth and Main streets because of the number of people living in downtown apartments and lofts, they are not to block intersections, and they are to abide by traffic signals.
Comments about some motorcyclist behavior Saturday came up while the council was reviewing the city’s noise ordinance Monday. The ordinance regulates various types of noise including loud music in homes and moving vehicles, excessive noise from vehicle and motorcycle engines and exhaust.
During the discussion, Councilman Gary Shaw said there are loud motorcycles that can be heard for several blocks that disturb residents. His comments were largely directed at sports bikes, which make a piercing, loud-pitched whine.
The police chief said loud mufflers is something police can enforce.
Councilman Phil Stinnett said noise is probably the least of the issues police encounter compared with speeding and traffic issues.
The chief said officers tried to resolve some issues with some motorcyclists Saturday night, and the bikers kicked the doors of police cars and then sped off.
Councilman Chuck Copple said he heard several complaints about what happened Saturday night. He asked if the cruise was one of the pre-planned monthly cruise events authorized by a city permit issued last year.
The mayor said he saw an announcement on social media about a cruise night and asked if a permit was obtained.
“It was a bunch of motorcyclists who showed up,” the chief said, and he was not sure if they were part of the regular cruise allowed under the permit or an individual group of riders.
“I think that’s the challenge sometimes is we tried to create an avenue for residents to (cruise) and now all of a sudden we’re having them happen impromptu and we might have created a challenge to curtail. I’m not pleased about that,” the mayor said.
Hendrix, contacted by the Globe about the issues raised at the meeting, said the Saturday event was a permitted cruise. He said a group of motorcyclists rode down Main while the cruise was going on as they were headed to a gathering someplace else.
“I didn’t see them blocking any streets off,” he said. “As far as I saw, and I only saw them the one time, they went down Main and then they were gone,” Hendrix said.
Two people posted on the Cruisin’ Main social media page that they saw the motorcyclists headed west on Seventh Street and turn south onto Main Street. When the traffic signal for their direction of travel turned red, the cyclists did not stop but continued riding through the intersection until all the bikes were on Main Street.
“As far as blocking off streets, I’ve seen people do that before,” Hendrix said. “They do that so they can keep their group together. But I don’t know if that happened Saturday night.” He said he saw the riders at a traffic signal at 15th and Main streets, “but they all made it through the light” before it changed.
One motorcyclist, who did not give his name, contacted the Globe in response to a request by Hendrix. He said there was a large group ride held Saturday night that was not planned to be part of the cruise. He said it just happened to coincide with the cruise night.
He asked that questions be sent to him by email about the allegations regarding what happened; however, responses to those questions were not received by the Globe in time to be reported in this story.
The council had not taken any action regarding the cruise permit at that time.