Update: The Court issued a ruling in this case yesterday allowing the City to proceed with the proposed bike loop:
Days before Memorial Day weekend, a federal judge ruled Myrtle Beach can use a 23-mile traffic loop despite pleas from the NAACP to ban the plan.
“The Court finds that the public interest will be best served if the City is allowed to proceed with its traffic plan for Memorial Day Weekend 2018,” Judge Marvin Quattlebaum wrote in an order issued on Wednesday.
The original article is below:
A federal judge has put off a decision on whether Myrtle Beach can use a 23-mile loop to control traffic during Atlantic Beach Bikefest 2018.
The motorcycle rally, also known as Black Bike Week, is just a couple of weeks away, running May 25-28. The NAACP filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming the city’s plan is racially motivated, violates equal protection laws, and fails to ensure safety.
The city and the NAACP made their cases in federal court Tuesday, but the judge said he needs more time and declined to say when he would reach a decision.
The NAACP has Sued Myrtle Beach Before Over the Bike Loop
The city’s traffic plan for Bikefest, an event that is historically attended by mostly black motorcyclists, turns Ocean Boulevard into a one-way stretch and creates a 23-mile loop that sends traffic out to the county from Ocean Boulevard and back. The NAACP says the traffic plan for the Myrtle Beach Bike Week Spring Rally, historically attended by mostly white motorcyclists, which will be held May 11-20, is far less restrictive.
This is not the first time the NAACP has sued the city over the Bikefest traffic loop. A lawsuit was filed in 2005 over a similar traffic plan, and the city and NAACP worked together to come up with a different traffic flow plan. That plan, which the city’s attorney called a failure, expired in 2014, and the city unilaterally imposed the current traffic loop.
What Does the NAACP Say?
Willie Williams, a motorcycle enthusiast and police chief in Rocky Mount, N.C., told the court he has attended both spring bike rallies in Myrtle Beach. The events and the participants are very similar, he said, and there is no reason for Black Bike Week to have a more restricted route.
Also testifying for the NAACP, civil engineer David Clarke said the one-way stretch along Ocean Boulevard does nothing to ease traffic flow, giving it a grade of “F minus, minus.”
NAACP attorney Reed Colfax told the court that the city’s loop has had a negligible effect on violence and emergency response times.
The NAACP claims the loop violates equal protection laws, and they argue that several comments made by city officials show that race played a significant role in the creation of the loop.
What Does the City Say?
The city’s attorney insists the loop is intended to ensure safety and has nothing to do with race. Attorney Michael Battle said the 2014 plan – which the NAACP wants to bring back – was a failure.
The city contends that both motorcycle and foot traffic during Bikefest are significantly different than during the Spring Rally, necessitating different rules.
Running Out of Time …
At this point, the city plans to use the contested traffic plan for Bikefest. If the judge orders them to use a different plan, it could significantly increase the plan’s cost for the city, which is already about half a million dollars. In that case, the NAACP plans to post a bond to help cover at least part of the additional cost.
Myrtle Beach Bike Week Motorcycle Lawyers
There are plenty of issues at play in the city’s decision to treat the two rallies differently – allegations of racism, traffic congestion, resident’s comfort, and the safety of motorcyclists and other motorists during bike week.
If you are involved in a motorcycle wreck during bike week in Myrtle Beach, the motorcycle and auto accident attorneys at Coastal Law can help. Call now for a free consultation to discuss your case, by calling (843) 488-5000 or filling out our online form.