Bicyclists concerned about barricades along Ocean Boulevard

Bicyclists concerned about barricades along Ocean Boulevard
(Source: WMBF News)
(Source: WMBF News)
(Source: WMBF News)
(Source: WMBF News)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Military veteran Clayton Mathieson rides his bike down Ocean Boulevard throughout the year, except during Bikefest.

The reason? He never liked the barricades.

However, since the barricades have stayed up longer than usual, Mathieson decided to go on a routine ride June 30. This time, it was different.

"I was riding down here, and as you can see there's not a lot of room," Mathieson explained.  "If you get distracted for just even a second, which I was, you have two choices; one go into traffic, and two, go into the barriers. And I chose the barriers."

Mathieson said as the cars sped by, his front wheel caught a barrier leg, and he flipped over the handle bars of his bicycle.  Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue responded to the accident.

According to Mathieson, he suffered a concussion, bruised ribs and a busted knee from the wreck.

"It doesn't make any sense to me. It's hurting businesses, it hurt me personally and I hope they (the city) can come up with a better solution to prevent crime in this area," Mathieson said.

The city may have more permanent plans.

"We've had a lot of problems in the past with some violent activities in the downtown area. I mean everyone knows that, and that's certainly something we're working extremely hard to deal with," said Myrtle Beach City Manager John Pederson.

Pederson said there's a 'friendlier way' for permanent barricades that will be more pleasing to the eye and provide better safety to bicyclists.

When asked why the barricades were put in the bike lane, Pederson said the city had no choice.  He explained the city's infrastructure dates back to the 1950s, and therefore sidewalks are not matching the amount of people using them.

While the city claims to be working to making Myrtle Beach 'bike friendly,' Pederson didn't deny the barricades are doing the opposite.

"What we've learned is just how important these barricades are to pedestrian safety," Pederson said.

He said he assumes public works employees already out early on the boulevard each morning are re-situating barricades that have been moved farther into the bike lane.

Although Mathieson is banged up, he has bigger issues the city can't fix.

Mathieson is on Medicare and a fixed income, and is awaiting a medical bill he doesn't think will be small.

"Cat scans and X-rays, you know, I'm responsible for 20 percent of that," he said.

Mathieson said he reached out to lawyers for alternative ways to help pay his medical bills from the accident, but not one will touch his case.

Instead, they offered a surprising suggestion to Mathieson's decision to hit a barrier instead of an oncoming car when he crashed.

"They said if you would've hit a car, we would've taken the case, but we're not going up against the city," Mathieson said.

The lawyers also cited history with the city, barricades during Bikefest and the NAACP as reasons why they wouldn't take his case.

Mathieson said he'll also have to find a way to repair his bike, which was his only mode of transportation, while his body recovers from his injuries at home.

The bike shop by Ocean Boulevard said they hadn't repaired any bicycles with barricade damage, but have heard plenty of complaints.

Pee Dee Bikes said they hadn't repaired any bikes with barricade damage either, but agree they aren't in the best interest of bike safety.

Mathieson said he hopes the city can come up with a better, safer solution before the same thing happens to someone else.

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