1 year after calling for an end: Gov. Haley weighs in on Bikefes - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

1 year after calling for an end: Gov. Haley weighs in on Bikefest '15

. - CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - One year after calling for an end to Bikefest, Gov. Haley weighs in on this year's event.


The governor was in town on Friday for a hurricane preparedness meeting, much of the conversation centered around a successful Memorial Day weekend.


"We can't thank the governor enough, we can't thank the state employees; from highway patrol to DOJ to DNR to SLED to everyone involved in the process with helping us through this past weekend," commented Mark Lazarus, the Horry County Chairman.


He remarked that Gov. Haley jumped in head-first to help provide resources to the area.


WMBF News Reporter Stephanie Robusto questioned Governor Haley on her stance regarding the 2015 rally. 


She asked, "Last year, you were adamant that the rally itself was the root of the problem with crime and violence, do you still feel that holds true?"

Gov. Haley responded, "I think what happened is we had the whole team come together and say 'ok, how are we going to change this.' I think that started with conversations with Atlantic Beach. They're to be applauded, they moved the curfew to 2 o'clock, they shut things down."

She credited the extra law enforcement for the reduction in crime.

"We can't thank our law enforcement enough. The key was, we did sensitivity training for all of those officers, all 600 plus had sensitivity training. 

We reminded them that South Carolina is named the friendliest state and that we wanted to welcome tourists but let them know they need to abide by our laws," said Gov. Haley.

According to the governor, you can expect to see the traffic restrictions back in place next year.

"One thing we found during our debriefing that was very helpful was the one way traffic on the boulevard was hugely important in allowing them to control the situation, and also the barriers to keep people on the sidewalks and not onto the roads," explained Gov. Haley.


Those barricades and traffic flow was a point of contention for many businesses.

"The fatalities, injuries, our number one goal was safety. We always want to encourage the economy, to strengthen it, but we're not going to sacrifice safety for the economy," countered Gov. Haley.

She still wants Atlantic Beach to move away from the Bikefest and to concentrate on year-round tourism. It is a goal she is willing to help the town obtain.


"There's a lot of history there, there's a lot of value there. My director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism has met with that team, I've met with that team to say 'Look you have options.' It doesn't have to be this one weekend a year. They have not taken us up on it yet. But we have said in order to take us up on that they do need to end Bikefest so we can go to this other option," said Gov. Haley.


The governor allocated a large portion of the Accommodations Tax to provide funding for this year's event. 


When asked if that spending of tax money is worth the benefits of the Bikefest, Gov. Haley said, "That's a decision for the locals to make. Our goal was for when the state needs us, we step up and Myrtle Beach needed us during this. They felt the rally was out of control, they felt they couldn't hold it anymore and we sent the resources through law enforcement to make sure they had that."


The governor said the goal is to continue giving the area what it needs so it can be a safe place for those visiting and for those living here.


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