NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - North Myrtle Beach and Atlantic Beach officials are ready for Bikefest and plan to do all they can to make sure everyone is safe this upcoming holiday weekend.
Tim Taylor, chief of the Atlantic Beach Police Department, said more bikers are visiting earlier this year.
"A lot more bikers are starting to come in," he said. "Last year around this time, I know we didn't have many bikers here on the Grand Strand."
Taylor added everyone is welcome to have a good time, but there are some things that will not be tolerated, such as "biker gangs" and groups with masks on their faces.
"If they come in with masks on their face, we are going to identify who they are," he said.
Both the cities of North Myrtle Beach and Atlantic Beach will have extra officers on duty to avoid traffic congestion.
"We've got about 90 officers to help us from other jurisdictions, and within the town of Atlantic Beach, there will be about 75 state patrol officers," said Pat Dowling, spokesperson for North Myrtle Beach.
Dowling added that motorists need to be more alert while traveling on the roads with bikers.
"They move more quickly than a car and they may make movements that you don't expect," he said. "So, use your rear-view and side-view mirrors, and be aware of of what is around you," he said.
Dowling's advice also pertained to bikers, as he asked them to be courteous and not to cut in and out of traffic. Ultimately, visitors and residents should remember that patience is their No. 1 ally and to plan ahead, he added.
Officers continue to do community policing, Dowling said, and they have been greeting visitors as they check into hotels as well as exchanging cellphone numbers with staff and visitors.
"If they have any problems or if people have problems, let's say with partying too loud, they can get in touch with one another," Dowling said.
The program has been on-going for years and Dowling said it has developed a great deal of respect.
Atlantic Beach officials said more than 30 food and clothing vendors are pre-registered for Atlantic Beach Bikefest.
Thursday, more vendors are expected to be at City Hall to register.