Myrtle Beach Planning for Atlantic Beach Bikefest

By Paul Gable

It seems the main planning items for the Atlantic Beach Bikefest that came out of the two day law enforcement summit in Myrtle Beach earlier this week deal with federal programs.

The City of Myrtle Beach has expressed significant interest in taking advantage of several U.S. Department of Justice grants that will provide the department with patrol rifles, ballistic riot control shields and diversity training.

Those three put together seem to be mixed planning unless diversity training means putting daisies in the barrels of the patrol rifles.

One problem with the current plans for the Atlantic Beach Bikefest that remains untouched is the proposed 40 mile traffic loop to help alleviate traffic backups in the City of Myrtle Beach. That plan does not sit well with a number of county council members who see it as including large areas of the county for no apparent need.

The number of law enforcement officers estimated to keep traffic from straying out of the loop was put at 1,000 during the summit. Those numbers are simply not going to be available especially with Myrtle Beach’s plans to locate numerous officers in the north end of the city to keep bikers out.

The question being asked is why bikers should be directed toward residential areas in the unincorporated areas of the county when they are being specifically excluded from certain residential areas within the city.

We had Gov. Nikki Haley and Myrtle Beach mayor John Rhodes both calling for the Atlantic Beach Bikefest to end, but neither have the authority or power to effect such a solution to the problem.

The difficulties in Myrtle Beach last Memorial Day weekend were a direct result of unpreparedness on the part of the Myrtle Beach Police Department. There was no excuse for being unprepared because it wasn’t the first time crowds from the Bikefest overwhelmed Ocean Boulevard and the south end of the beach.

Those same type of situations, less the shootings, were first experienced in the late 1990’s when the Atlantic Beach Bikefest was first publicized on the internet and attendance exploded.

In the interim we had special meetings of the League of Cities and other countywide forums, special traffic patterns, increased law enforcement personnel, hospitality teams and, yes, lawsuits.

However, since the “Take Back May” movement in 2008-09, there has been an arrogance about handling the Atlantic Beach Bikefest and the Harley Davidson Spring Rally in the city. That arrogance bit Myrtle Beach in the ass last year. Let’s see if they can go back to getting it right.

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