My reponse to an article in The Sun Times about more rules at Myrtle Beach Bike Week ---
This page is in response to an article in The Sun Times about
Noise Enforcement at Myrtle Beach Bike Week...
I read with interest, your recent article in The Sun News: “MB nears vote on bike-noise rules”. I’d like to share my thoughts with you, both as co-owner of a motorcycle-related business, and as a motorcycle enthusiast for over 30 years.
- First, I’ll comment from the individual motorcyclist vantage point. I’ve been going to Myrtle Beach Bike Week since about 1979, and have spent a considerable amount of money in the Myrtle beach area over these years as a result. My average expenditure is around $800-1000 per visit. I typically stay for 3-6 days, depending on my work schedule. I’ve always enjoyed Bike Week, and usually plan the trip 6+ months in advance. However, in recent years, it seems to me that the people of Myrtle Beach don’t really want me to visit, but rather only want my money. I’ve been yelled at by the area police for simply not turning into a driveway quickly enough when they were directing traffic, had many of my friends stopped for driving barely over the speed limit, and been treated badly by area residents simply because they were “bothered” by Bike Week. Anytime one can ALWAYS see “blue-lights” flashing somewhere within their range of vision, especially when it seems that no one is mis-behaving, one has to wonder “why?”.
One of my friends sold his Myrtle Beach time share because they decided motorcycles would no longer be welcome, even if they were property of the time-share owner. On the other hand, I’ve been treated very well by hotels, restaurants, and stores I chose to spend my money in. So, it’s become a catch 22… A balance that will surely be tilted if Myrtle Beach continues to tighten it’s grip on the motorcycle enthusiasts who visit during bike week. The outer banks of NC have now started a rally, so perhaps the deterioration of the Myrtle Beach Bike Week conditions for visitors will bolster it’s growth and the economy of my home state. Maybe I should thank Myrtle Beach?
As for police sticking objects into open holes on motorcycles to determine compliance… I noticed City Manager Tom Leath’s comments where the council could direct the police to shift limited resources and personnel from speeding enforcement to noise. I really don’t understand this, as speeding would be a safety issue, noise is only something to appease the local residents (and probably get votes from them). It seems to me, this is only another dig at the motorcycling public to deter interest in visiting Myrtle Beach Bike Week. I’ll elaborate on this a little later, so you can see the comments made to me by an official of Myrtle Beach during the Spring Rally.
Your article quoted City Attorney Tom Ellenburg as saying Police could target specific behaviors under the ordinance and check for missing mufflers by putting a stick in the motorcycle's tailpipe. Those observable violations would reduce the subjectivity of noise violations. This specific comment demonstrates why people who make laws should have first-hand experience with the subject matter. Additionally, I submit that few (if any) of your police officers are certified motorcycle mechanics and/or have experience in the design of modern motorcycle exhaust systems. I assure you, there are many newer DOT approved, free-flowing motorcycle mufflers that now have an open center and will fail the primitive test you mentioned in your article. If the police are equipped with anything less than a sound level meter and the knowledge of how to use it CORRECTLY, there will be much trouble and publicity to arise from the use of a “stick” placed inside of an expensive motorcycle exhaust system. It will surely be the “death-nail” driven in for many visitors who come to Bike Week as an annual vacation…there are simply too many other options for them to enjoy without being hassled by those who seemingly don’t want bikers (over 300 rallies in the U.S. per annum).
- Now, I’ll comment as a motorcycle business owner. This past spring, our business (Scootworks) caught the brunt of the City of Myrtle Beach’s inflexibility towards visiting businesses. We arranged to be set up in an area on the Sam’s Club parking lot months in advance. Upon arrival with 4 vehicles, 7 employees, 9 motorcycles (and loads of inventory to show), and 50 linear feet of tent space…I was told I needed another permit of some sort. So, while our employees were setting up, I ran over to the town hall to take care of it. Your people were more than happy to take more of our money with a smile. I had no more than paid, when I got a call on the 2-way about one of your enforcement people telling my people that they had to tear everything back down. I rushed back to the site to learn that we could only have 1 10’ x 10’ tent to cover everything! This was due to some misunderstanding between Sam’s Club and the city. The city said that they would not change, that it was unfortunate, but the matter couldn’t be resolved at that time. We’re only talking about a new permit, or changes to the existing permit. There were many vendors who were in the same boat as us… I asked the inspector about what I was to do with all of the employees and product and their response was: “Put the product out in the sun, and your people can get a tan”!!!!! I couldn’t believe that response, nor that we were being treated this way, especially since we’re only talking about the stroke of a pen…it was NOT a safety issue, as vendors were set up everywhere else as planned. Additionally, an official from the City of Myrtle Beach told us that they didn’t care about our problem, that the people of Myrtle Beach didn’t want the motorcycle rally anyway, and if I watched closely I’d live to see the rally killed altogether. The final comment from the inspector was: “The residents don’t care about the money, they simply do not want the rally in town.”
Many vendors had to pack up and leave. I had to find a suitable space at Murrel’s Inlet, where I didn’t want to set up in the first place. Myrtle Beach has YET to refund us for the permits that they sold us, but we were unable to use because of their inflexibility. We had to drive 65 miles round trip each day, for each of my people to get to and from the hotel. We had advertised our location and info in magazines for months in advance, on our website, sent out some 25,000+ bulletins about our location for the unveiling of several new items, etc. All wasted. Many people never found us in the obscure, muddy location we had to set up in. It cost us over $10,000 for the “privilege” of showing (not selling anything, mind you!) our product to other motorcyclists for the Thur-Sat time frame. In light of the aggravation and the cloud cast over us by the City of Myrtle Beach (not to mention a day of show lost due to their childish behavior), it was certainly not worth the effort, nor money spent. Many motorcycle shop owners I’ve talked with since the spring rally (not clothing and chrome vendors…motorcycle businesses who went to only set up and show their wares) who have shared similar stories.
I can assure you that our company will never make the mistake of returning to Myrtle Beach and wasting money with people who clearly don’t want us. Our ’06 schedule spends more of our advertising dollars at North Carolina rallies (and Daytona), and we certainly plan to share our experiences with all interested.
Thanks for your article in the paper…while composing this reply, I was reminded of the frustration and financial losses we incurred this past spring while at the Spring Rally. I plan to post this letter on our personal and business websites to hopefully warn others of possible business losses and personal confrontation with the people of Myrtle Beach during the Myrtle Beach Bike Weeks.