Grand Strand gears up for biker rallies

With the start of the first annual motorcycle week just days away, area police said they want residents and visitors to have patience and understand there will be poor manners and traffic violations on area roads during the height of the rallies.

The annual Harley-Davidson rally is set to begin Monday and end May 18, although bikers likely will begin arriving around Friday. The first day that vendors with permits from Horry County can begin sales is May 12.

The Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bikefest will kickoff May 23 to May 26, according to organizers. Both rallies bring thousands of visitors to the Grand Strand to enjoy various events that include motorcycles of every size, shape and type.

Along with remembering your patience, sunscreen and possibly earplugs, Myrtle Beach police Capt. David Knipes and Pat Dowling, North Myrtle Beach’s spokesman, also provided a few other tips that residents and visitors need to remember to survive the May motorcycle rallies.

Question | What do you want to remind residents and visitors about the upcoming motorcycle rallies?

Knipes | As always, remember to slow down and be extra careful with all of the motorcycle and vehicle traffic that the events will bring.

Dowling | We ask motorcyclists to be aware that, while they are on vacation, our residents must get a good night's sleep and go to work or school each day. And we motorists to be extra alert on the road and not assume that motorcyclists can see them.

Question | Will there be an increased presence by officers in the department?

Knipes | Yes. There will also be outside agencies assisting Myrtle Beach police. At this time we are still putting everything together and a final number of assisting agencies will be available after the event.

Dowling | All officers will be available and we will use outside assistance when necessary.

Question | Are there any planned changes to traffic patterns that you know of for either rally?

Knipes | There are no planned changes to traffic patterns.

Dowling | The city will use the traffic chute for the Memorial Day BikeFest, which includes barricades along the east side of U.S. 17 from 27th Avenue South to 37th Avenue South. The barricades create a protected northbound lane on U.S. 17 for motorcycles and motorists to enter Atlantic Beach for Bikefest events. The chute likely will be set up early the morning of May 23.

Question | What are the top three safety tips for visitors and residents to remember during these rallies?

Knipes | Behave properly, respect our community and drive safely.

Dowling | Be alert while driving. Follow all traffic and other laws - Respect one another. There are a lot of people in town during the events, so we who live here will be patient and we ask that our visitors show consideration as well.

Authorities in Atlantic Beach and Horry County did not respond to requests for information about the motorcycle rallies.