City of Myrtle Beach hopes to become more pedestrian, biker friendly

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The City of Myrtle Beach is working on a comprehensive plan to make roadways inside city limits more pedestrian and biker friendly.

The city has formed the Bicycle and Pedestrian Subcommittee to address all the issues, and safety is the main priority. The planning subcommittee brings together people from all over the community to figure out how things should be laid out within city limits; RTA bus drivers, bicyclists, walkers, and Horry County and Myrtle Beach planners.

The group is focusing on the safety needs of the growing number of people who walk and bike for recreation, and also those who do it as one of the main ways for transportation. The first order of business will be to establish a basic understanding of all the current conditions in Myrtle Beach and what needs to be fixed.

Committee member and RTA Bus Driver Roger Meams hopes this will bring a different view to the safety issues. "Riding a bicycle gives you a whole different perspective of traffic," said Meams. "You're vulnerable. You're out there. It's you against everyone else seemingly."

According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, in the past two years Myrtle Beach Police have investigated 100 bicycle and pedestrian accidents inside city limits. Most of those accidents involved bicycles.

"There's accidents," said Meams. "Slow speed accidents that should never ever have to happen."

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Subcommittee hopes to eventually bring big safety changes to the beach. So far a number of ideas have been thrown on the table by committee members-- like more sidewalks, wider areas for walking and more signs in different places to warn drivers to share the road. There have even been suggestions of traffic law changes, like making it illegal to turn right at any red light or dedicated left turn arrows at all intersections, since those are some of the main ways accidents happen.

Committee Chair Bill Pritchard says they can bring the ideas, but making the ideas materialize is a different matter. "Groups like this come up with ideas and suggestions and plant the seeds," explained Pritchard. "But there are other people who control the purse strings. And the purse strings ultimately make the changes happen."

To bring about any changes, the committee will have to go through a process. The committee will first review the ideas for recommendations, then it has to get approved by the Myrtle Beach Planning Commission and next Myrtle Beach City Council. Based on where the city is now, Pritchard says it could be a long process, one that could take several months or even years to complete.

Copyright 2013 WMBF News. All Rights Reserved.