MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The City of Myrtle beach is making efforts to ensure that everyone is safe when they walk, run, or ride bikes in the city of Myrtle Beach.
The Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee for the city reviewed its successes from 2015 and brainstormed goals for 2016. High on the list is to improve the connectivity of the sidewalks, multi-purpose paths, and bike lanes.
"So people can ride their bikes to work a little bit more safely," explained Kelly Mezzapelle, a planner for the City of Myrtle Beach. "Or tourists can ride to some of the attractions. Or walk to some of the attractions and not have to get in the car, fight the traffic, and hunt for a parking space when we get there."
For example, the East Coast Greenway runs through the entire city, but there is one segment of the multi-use path that is missing. Along South Kings Highway, the path disappears just past the airport runway and picks back up again at the corner of Harrelson Boulevard and Kings. So this year, city crews plan to connect the path.
Another connectivity issue on a well-used road is along 38th Avenue North. The sidewalk is supposed to go all the way from Kings Highway to Highway 17 Bypass. But for a few blocks between Little River Road and close to Grissom Parkway there is no sidewalk at all. You can see people walking through the grass on the side of the road to get to the Bi-Lo shopping center from their homes. This is another spot city crews plan to connect sidewalks this year.
And finally, the mismatched sidewalks along 501 are to be connected this year as well to make it safer for everyone walking or riding a bike along the busy roadway.
In connecting these sidewalks and multi-use paths, the committee is also working with the sports tourism department of the city to promote the area as a bike-friendly city. Mezzapelle wants to make sure families feel comfortable to strap the bikes onto the back of the car and seek out the Grand Strand as a great place to be active on vacation. Plus, the city wants to attract more athletes to the area. So connecting sidewalks and pathways and lowering speed limits will make it safer for athletes to come here as a destination to train for marathon or race.
"Not only could we maybe host some more events like that here, but people could come here to train," said Mezzapelle. "If they're coming on vacation here anyway, they can throw all of their equipment in the car and feel comfortable and safe training here."
Also on the committee's list of goals for 2016: plan two Cyclovia events, lower speed limits along the beach according to safety audit recommendations, and map out safe routes to school plans for families.