MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – As Ocean Boulevard and the surrounding streets fill with bikers headed to Atlantic Beach bikefest, police officers can be seen on nearly every corner.
Myrtle Beach Spokesperson Mark Kruea says nearly 500 officers were brought in from supporting agencies like South Carolina Highway Patrol, Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office, Horry County Sheriff’s Office, and more to assist Myrtle Beach Police.
In addition to the highly visible police presence, the city has again installed the 23-mile traffic loop pattern to help control the flow of traffic and avoid congestion on Ocean Boulevard. While the traffic loop has been deemed “23 miles of shame” by Anson Asaka, Associate General Counsel for the NAACP, not everyone visiting Myrtle Beach agrees.
Rick, a motorcyclist from Florida, spoke with New13’s Taylor Herlong Friday night on Ocean Boulevard. He says he’s been coming to bikefest activities on the Grand Strand for more than a decade.
“I’ve been coming since 2002. I never missed a year, so I’ve seen some good and some bad,” recalls Rick.
While he usually stays away from the “south end,” Rick says it was actually the heavy police visibility that encouraged him to venture away from Atlantic Beach and come check out the bikes in Myrtle Beach.
“I’ve never had a problem with the police. I actually encourage it because it makes everybody safer, and I feel safer, even at night,” explains Rick.
Rick says he and his friend had an encounter with officers shortly after arriving in Myrtle Beach, and it left him with a good impression. He says his friend’s bike broke down, and the two men had to push the motorcycle behind a business to get it out of traffic. Shortly after, the two were approached by officers to see if they needed help.
“I was like, I said, ‘thank you,’ because what if somebody was actually stealing my bike?” says Rick. “So I actually like that, that they’re paying attention.”
After coming to Atlantic Beach and the neighboring areas for 15 years, the Florida native says the absence of police in years prior allowed people along the Grand Strand to be less concerned with their actions.
“With not a lot of police, people were drinking, and smoking weed, and doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing. Now, you don’t see that,” explains Rick. “If you know that the police presence is here, you’re less likely to do something stupid.”
The traffic loop is in effect Friday through Sunday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. For drivers in Myrtle Beach wanting to avoid the traffic pattern, a phone line is available from Myrtle Beach Police for traffic information and questions. City employees will man the information line 24/7. Call 843-918-INFO (4636) through Monday at 6 a.m.