Though helmet law repealed in MB, other anti-rally laws remain

The city of Myrtle Beach's controversial 2008 ordinance requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets was repealed last year, when the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

But as thousands of bikers descend on the Grand Strand for the spring Harley Davidson rally, city officials point out that about a dozen other anti-bike rally ordinances remain in effect, including prohibitions on possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages in parking areas and noise limitations on vehicles.

"Yes, they're all still in place and in some cases the penalties are stronger than they were when we started out," said Myrtle Beach public information officer Mark Kruea.

Kruea said the city originally intended for violations of the anti-rally laws be treated as civil infractions, but the Supreme Court ruled that the administrative hearing courts set up to deal with those infractions were unconstitutional. In response, the city made violations of the anti-rally laws into misdemeanors, carrying fines of up to $500 and/or 30 days in jail.

Despite that, many bikers told NewsChannel 15 the helmet law was what concerned them the most and now that it's been repealed, they will no longer avoid traveling within Myrtle Beach city limits.

"We're forgiving, ready to go back to Myrtle Beach. We're heading there now," said Jim Johnston of Columbia, as he and two friends rolled out of the SBB biker bar in Murrells Inlet.

Mary Ann Milner of Sewell, New Jersey, who is marking her eighth year attending the Harley rally, said not every biker has forgotten the city's attempt to restrict helmet use, but they're willing to give the city a second chance.

"We've already ridden through Myrtle Beach again this year, downtown, where last year we completely avoided it," Milner said.

Some bikers remain upset over the city's noise ordinance, which limits exhaust sound levels to 92 decibels when measured 20 inches from the exhaust pipe at a 45 degree angle while the engine is idling.

Milner said she doubts the noise ordinance will keep bikers out of the city. But the city's limitations on rally vendors may be another matter. Myrtle Beach has not issued vendor permits related to the bike rally.

"We like to come to see the vendors, we like to give them business," Milner said.

SBB owner Todd Price said the differences in rally-related ordinances from one jurisdiction to the next are confusing to bikers and vendors. He'd like to see uniform vendor rules for Horry County and the various municipalities, but worries that would lead to what he considers to be a step backward.

"That's a double edge sword. I do want to see uniformity but I don't want to see things become more restrictive and put another damper on things," Price said.

What do you think of the remaining anti-bike rally ordinances in Myrtle Beach, especially the limitations on vendors and exhaust noise? Will they keep bikers outside of city limits or have bikers forgiven the city enough to come back? If you live in Myrtle Beach, do you want the bikers to come back, now that the helmet law has been repealed?