MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Bikefest is still three months away, but the Myrtle Beach Police Department is meeting with business owners this month to ensure everyone starts planning for Bikefest as early as possible.
"They have truly made amazing strides to work with us, to find out what our needs were, to engage with us and see how they can partner with us as residents," said Angela Kegler, owner of The Kegler Group. "I'm very impressed."
Lt. Joey Crosby led the first Memorial Day business meeting of the year at 8:30 a.m. Friday in the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.
"Let's work together to make sure it's safe to the best of our abilities," Lt. Crosby said.
Myrtle Beach police officers responded to fewer violent crimes, weapon offenses and traffic accidents during Bikefest 2015 than in the past, Lt. Crosby said, but he said there's still room for improvement, which starts with more communication and cooperation with the community.
He asked business owners to plan in advance for Memorial Day weekend, including trying to schedule shifts around traffic loop times. The loop is set to be in place again this year from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Lt. Crosby explained the traffic loop route and recommended 17 Bypass for local traffic.
While the outline of the loop is the same as last year, Myrtle Beach is in the process of developing an interactive map that will be able to tell a driver how to efficiently get from point A to point B during loop and non-loop hours.
"We're really excited about this and to launch this effort," Lt. Crosby said. "We'll think it'll be a great asset and a big tool."
The map will show where barricades are located and which roads are closed for service vehicles.
The system expands on Horry County's Bikefest app from last year, which mapped out the loop for its users, but didn't offer directions.
The map service will be available prior to Bikefest, so people can start planning their routes ahead of time.
Police officers and community ambassadors will also be equipped with educational pamphlets with a QR code that will bring people directly to map services when scanned.
Myrtle Beach is in the process of developing the service right now. The police department tested it out for the MLK Day Parade and plans to use it for the Myrtle Beach Marathon next month.
For Bikefest 2016, Myrtle Beach Police Department is also planning on increasing communication, improving command posts and adding resources to quality of life issues such as noise or disorderly conduct.
The business meetings are held each Friday in February at 8:30 a.m. at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.