MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Myrtle Beach leaders are working to make the city more pedestrian friendly for walkers and bicyclists.
Thanks to a $50,000 dollar grant, the city plans to upgrade and improve a stretch of the East Coast Greenway bike route along Kings Highway.
The grant, provided by the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base Redevelopment Authority, will pay for a new trail head welcoming cyclists into the city.
A beginners mountain bike path will also be added to the wooded area next to the existing bike trail.
That trail will be extended another 400 yards and a bike repair station will be built complete with tools and an air pump in case any cyclists run into problems.
The East Coast Greenway opens up bike access from Maine all the way to Key West, Florida and has trails through more than 250 miles of South Carolina, including the entire length of Myrtle Beach.
The project is just part of a larger push to by the city to be more pedestrian and bicyclist friendly.
Infrastructure project are in the works to connect other bike paths that currently have gaps within city limits, and improvements are underway to make sure cyclists and walkers stay safe when navigating high traffic areas.
“Making pedestrian connections with sidewalks so people aren’t having to walk in the streets and a big component of that is also making our intersections safer so people can get across busy roads like Kings Highway so they can safely get to where their going,” said Kelly Mezzapelle with the Myrtle Beach Planning Department.
“I’m all for making things more friendly for the pedestrians and bike riders that’s one of the things that attracts you to the beach,” said Harold Tadlock.
Tadlock’s family owns a restaurants two blocks from the ocean and he says foot traffic is a big part of their business.
“You have a lot of people who walk from the Boulevard, you don’t even have to get out of your car,” said Tadlock.
Mezzapelle says that’s something she’d like to see even more of because, “you’re not spending money when your driving around in your car.”
The planning departments goal is to have people who visit the area able to park their car when they get here and not get back in until they’re headed out-of-town.
“If they can walk where they need to go it benefits them, it benefits the businesses that are walkable distance from their hotels. It’s a win-win for everybody,” said Mezzapelle.
The plans do not include any over street walkways due to the costs involved, so they’re focusing on street level intersections and crossings.
Mezzapelle says opening up the city to walkers and bikers will benefit people who live in the area.
“I’d say in this kind of weather, almost everyday when its this pretty, we’ll come out and take a walk,” said Dan Cox, who’s lived in Myrtle Beach for more than 40 years.
Cox enjoys strolling the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk and has seen an increase of like-minded people recently.
“Seems like it increases year by year,” said Cox.
Michael Arcuri is one of those riders who enjoys biking for fresh air, exercise and because, “girls smile at me.”
Arcuri is a Life Guard in Myrtle Beach, he rides his bike from Socastee through Market Common to work every day.
“It runs right through to Ocean Boulevard and then your really set,” said Acuri. He says he welcomes any improvements and wants to see even more paths open up along his route.
“It’s too dangerous to ride in the road,” said Acuri.
Coming up in May the Market Common area will host its second Cyclovia event, which will shut down the roads to cars and open them up to bikers and walkers.
Organizers say it’s another way of promoting the area as a pedestrian friendly destination.