I am a little worried about Myrtle Beach… I have been attending the Myrtle Beach Bike Weeks for many, many years now. It was an easy rally to attend, as it would double as a vacation to visit my grandparents who lived there up until last year. MB was always a rally with a different feel; less riding than Sturgis and Laconia, attractions and landscape similar to Daytona, but with worse traffic, and bikers had their choice of evening entertainment, one of the many strip joints, or a round of mini golf, up to you!
The rally has been upsetting locals for many years. Myrtle Beach is a huge retirement community and makes its primary income from tourism, both spring breakers, and golf devotees. The beachfront properties are huge, plenty, and reasonably priced. The restaurants and bars are not bad, and the inflated prices could be worse. Problem is, many locals remember when MB was not such a huge destination, when their streets were a bit quieter and the lines to get into restaurants were shorter. I believe that as the local population continues to age, the relaxed sprit goes by the wayside and folks start complaining more loudly, apparently loud enough to be heard over straight pipes.
This year’s Fall Rally has just started and will run through the end of the week. New sound ordinances and other “anti-rally” laws have been put into place and will be tested at this much smaller event (the fall rally attracts around 60,000 bikers as opposed to the spring rally’s 300,000). So far, the police are planning bike checkpoints that will force all traffic to stop while bikes are checked for sound level violations, equipment violations, and licenses, registration and insurance information is confirmed. It may not be too big of a hassle to the 60k riders who are currently rolling into town, but you can bet that when the spring rally rolls up, there will be perpetual gridlock. It will take you all day to get from Barefoot Landing to the Esplanade. If anything, the rally will have to get longer simply because you can only see half as much in the currently allotted time.
The rally talks are serious folks and I, for one, will not be surprised to find out that future rallies are cancelled and the event is cut off. With all the money that the rally brings to the area, locals claim that it is not that far above and beyond a good week of attendance by quiet and well-behaved beachcombers. Well, I think they will eventually look back on that idea as a huge mistake.
As of this moment, Myrtle Beach has created 15 new ordinances concerning Bike Week. The ones that will most likely affect the average attendee are: helmet and eyewear required (only in Myrtle Beach city limits – SC is a no helmet state for anyone over 21); no loud mufflers (over 87 decibels); photo ID required for hotel/accommodation check in as well as ID of all guests per room and of all vehicles in parking lots; no open containers; no trailers parked on public streets; no use of parking lots for non-parking activities; and only two motorcycles allowed per parking space (including metered and pay parking).
The ordinances in combination with a limit placed on vendor licenses has set the stage to phase out the motorcycle events held in this tourist town. And, some folks are already questioning the ability of the Myrtle Beach City Council to pass such ordinances. The most obvious problem is the helmet and eyewear ordinance. South Carolina has no law requiring a helmet for motorcycle riders over the age of 21, and a law firm from Virginia has already filed suit against the city to see if the city law overriding the state law is constitutional. I would like to think not.
I will do my best to keep you apprised of what is happening in Myrtle Beach this year. You may also visit the local news website for very valuable info including a full list of new city ordinances (www.myrtlebeachonline.com).
Love, Respect, and Ride Safe