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      Myrtle Beach aiming to be more bicycle friendly

      The city of Myrtle Beach is trying to become more bicycle friendly. The city is working to identify problems facing cyclists and come up with solutions.

      Last summer, cyclist Jimmy Westmoreland, 72, was struck by a car and killed in Myrtle Beach.

      It was on the cabana section of Ocean Boulevard, where the street narrows and there is no bike lane.

      That segment is now getting a close look as one of the critical blank spots in the city's bike lane system.

      "We've gone a long way toward some infrastructure improvements for bicycles facilities, but there's some gaps in those pathways that need to be filled in," said city planner Kelly Mezzapelle.

      Mezzapelle is also a recreational cyclist and serves on a committee mapping out spots where the city could add new bike lanes or expand existing lanes.

      Another goal of the committee is education.

      "There are a lot of people out there riding bikes who don't know the rules of the road. There are a lot of people out there driving cars who don't know the rules of the road when it comes to interacting with bicyclists."

      There's a tourism element to the city's effort to make the city more bike-friendly, says cyclist and bike shop employee Fleet Odom.

      "We're seeing here in the shop more and more folks from out of town, wanting to come down, they want to bring their bikes and they want to ride around and enjoy the beautiful weather this spring," Odom said.

      Mezzapelle says making the city friendlier for cyclists could also help reduce traffic congestion on clogged city streets.

      "Bicycles are good for everybody, whether you're a bicyclist or not," she said.

      The committee started its work last November and hopes to have an action plan to present to the city planning commission next month.

      The League of American Bicyclists ranks South Carolina 34th on thelist of bike friendly states.

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