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» Bikers' Rights, Government Rants, Legislation » The Myrtle Beach Dilemma

The Myrtle Beach Dilemma

There’s been a good bit of news lately about Myrtle Beach trying to rid itself of bikers. I expected to hear a lot about it from bikers (here’s an account from a biker who engaged in a bit of civil disobedience), but I was pleasantly surprised to see at least one member of the blawgosphere pick up on the story as well (check out posts from Bobby G. Frederick here and here). Anyone who knows me or has had a look around my firm’s website realizes that both Adrian and I are avid bikers. I donate a lot of my time to fellow bikers and bikers’ rights organizations, so this Myrtle Beach business is right up my alley. Strangely, I don’t know what I’d recommend.

On one hand, I can understand why bikers might want to take a “screw ’em, we just won’t go” approach. I imagine that will cost Myrtle Beach quite a bit of money. Sure, the powers-that-be can increase taxes or figure out some other way to bleed enough money from their constituents to scrape by, but the people who’ll end up having to pay those taxes won’t have as much cash as they used to. There will be plenty of hotel, restaurant, and bar owners who will start hurting. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few tourist shops go under. On top of that, if bikers really stay away, there won’t be any ticket revenue. I think Myrtle Beach will miss the bikers sooner or later. There’s something very satisfying to me about the idea of sticking it to the city that way.

On the other hand, if bikers want to take a stand and really get their message across, an act of large scale civil disobedience is hard to beat. Bikers who just ride through town sans helmet and later pay the ticket might as well not bother. They’d be helping the city. Fighting the ticket is what matters. If hundreds or maybe thousands of bikers get ticketed for not having helmets and every single one of them fights their ticket, what would happen to Myrtle Beach’s court system? The only reason civil traffic infractions generate a lot of profit is because most people roll over. It wouldn’t take that many bikers fighting their tickets to give the Myrtle Beach courts more than they could possibly handle. Most if not all of the bikers will lose, but hearings take time and cost money. The courts could try to cut corners, but I just don’t think it’s possible to cut enough corners to make a government traffic-ticket scam work when everyone’s contesting their infractions.

I think both options are entirely possible, as bikers are ridiculously organized. It may take ten of us an hour to gas up on a poker run, but thousands of us will jump all over a rights issue in a matter of seconds. Try writing something online criticizing bikers and see how long it takes you to get a response. I’ve never seen an online poll go in favor of helmets. On issues with only one pro-biker option, we mobilize quickly. It’s different when the best course of action for bikers isn’t clear. From what I’ve seen, there’s no single voice to be heard about Myrtle Beach. Rights groups have definitely taken up the cause, but they’d be a lot more effective if they acted as one. I hope that happens.

For what it’s worth, my advice to the bikers who are organizing the resistance is to crunch the numbers and base the decision on what’s most realistic. How many tickets would we need to fight to clog the courts? How many bikers can we realistically expect to participate in large scale civil disobedience? How much revenue will Myrtle Beach lose if bikers disappear? How much can Myrtle Beach afford to lose?

Personally, I’m hoping bikers as a group pick civil disobedience. I’ve been meaning to take a ride to South Carolina.

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One Response to "The Myrtle Beach Dilemma"

  1. BFrederick says:

    From what I understand, they moved the rally to NC. I haven’t really seen any real blowback to the city, and it looks like bikers are rolling over and going elsewhere which is exactly what the city wanted.

    I think that bikers should come en masse, loud as hell and without helmets.

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