myrtle beach to biker rallies:  drop dead

The following is the text of a letter released by Myrtle Beach officials concerning the May Biker Rallies as reported by WMBF News:

Dear Visitor,


Please know that anyone who rides a motorcycle lawfully is welcome year-round in Myrtle Beach.  The issue isn't who you are or what you choose to drive.  The issue, plain and simple, is that the massive, back-to-back motorcycle-related rallies each May simply are too much for our small community of 30,000 residents.  The rallies exceed our capacity and overwhelm our resources.  They bring nearly 20 straight days of excessive noise, traffic congestion, reckless driving, rudeness, lewdness, litter, crime, wrecks, injuries and deaths, and the residents have said, "Enough."


The rallies' sheer size and duration are difficult, too.  We have worked with both events for more than a dozen years to rein in the negative effects, but the organizers and attendees have been unable or unwilling to alter them significantly.  It is not unreasonable to expect that events in or around our city will not unduly disrupt our lives.  But residents have come to dread the month of May, and that's not good.  They demanded action, and City Council listened.


It may surprise you, but our economy does much better with a fully diversified visitor base, as we have during June, July and August.  Large, single-focus groups like the bike rallies are either feast or famine for the business community.  Some businesses do well, but many are shut out.  Worse, the rallies keep other visitors away from Myrtle Beach, because they don't want to be caught up in the rally headaches.  Yes, Myrtle Beach is a tourist destination, but the community is not willing to sell its safety and sanity for a price.


Ask yourself, how would your hometown handle three weeks of back-to-back motorcycle rallies with hundreds of thousands of participants?  What would your neighbors do when their kids can't sleep at night because of the noise?  What would you tell businesses that are shut out for three weeks because they don't cater to a biker audience?  How would your police and EMS staff cope with increased crime, injuries and deaths?  What would your elected officials do?  We are confident that your hometown would do what Myrtle Beach has done, only sooner.


If we take motorcycles out of the discussion, would you agree that an event - you pick the subject - literally could be too big or too noisy or just plain too much for a town?  Would you agree that one event could reach such proportions or cause such problems that it would have negative effects on a town?  Would you agree that events could so overwhelm a town's capacity to deal with them that the town said, in effect, "Please stop having those events"?


Let's say you have a wooden boat and take it to the annual wooden boat show in Georgetown.  The show has grown through the years and now occupies much of the downtown area and all of the waterfront, with parking overflowing onto side streets in the neighborhoods.  What if, one day, the City of Georgetown decides that the wooden boat show has gotten too big?  What if the city says, "We can't handle the wooden boat show anymore"?  If the wooden boat show stops, Georgetown will still be an attractive destination, and you and your wooden boat will still be welcome, but there won't be a wooden boat show.


Our desire is to bring to a close the two humongous motorcycle-related rallies that overwhelmed us in May for the last 15 years.  The fall bike rally is smaller than either spring event, so its problems - excessive noise, reckless driving, increased accidents and injuries - are proportionally smaller.  The fall event, so far, isn't overwhelming.  But, if the fall rally increases to the size and scope of the multiple May rallies, it will have worn out its welcome.


As you know, Myrtle Beach is a great place to live, work and vacation.  City Council's goal is to keep it that way, and that's why the massive May rallies must end.  Again, people who ride motorcycles lawfully are welcome 365 days a year.  We ask that our visitors respect the people and the place they are visiting.