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Police issue citations to bikers on Helmet Freedom Ride

February 28, 2009

Police issue citations to bikers on Helmet Freedom Ride

About 100 motorcyclists gathered at the Beaver Bar in Murrells Inlet for the Helmet Freedom Ride. Most bikers did not wear helmets as they rode into Myrtle Beach today protesting the city’s new local helmet law. 

Today is the day nine of the city’s 15 ordinances and amendments aimed at curbing the May motorcycle rallies take effect. Others include a 1 a.m. curfew for minors and bans on parking oversize trailers on public streets, putting more than two motorcycles in a parking space and using parking lots for anything but parking.

The bikers were expected to cruise up Kings Highway to Ocean Boulevard. The group was to then turn left on 29th Avenue North and take U.S. 17 Bypass back to Murrells Inlet.

At 12:05 p.m., three Myrtle Beach police officers were stationed at Ocean Boulevard just south of the Kings Highway intersection. The bikers left Murrells Inlet at noon.

By 12:24 p.m., officers began issuing citations to bikers not wearing helmets. Many of the bikers were travelling in small packs.

About 95 percent of the bikers who took part in the ride did not wear a helmet.

A group of people watched the events unfold in a vacant parking lot near Shipwreck Island Adventure Golf.

Bruce Arnold, who rode 650 miles from Miami Beach, Fla. to take part in the ride, said, “I’m not anti-helmet, I’m anti-helmet law and anti-discrimination.”

“Fast Fred” Ruddock of North Charleston, who heads the group Bikers of Lesser Tolerance, said this might be his only chance to get a ticket in South Carolina.

“It’s the law not the device we oppose,” Ruddock said.

Ruddock and others say they will challenge their tickets if they receive them today. Many said they are expecting a police presence at the city limits. There are S.C. Highway Patrol officers at the Beaver Bar watching the gathering.

The Helmet Freedom Ride is not officially being sponsored, but announcements have been placed in motorcycle-related magazines and on Web sites riders are likely to visit, and have been circulated by e-mail.

The impending helmet law has prompted cheers from some residents who think it will discourage riders from coming to the beach, and caused consternation from bikers and others who think the city has no right to make a law more specific than the state’s law.

South Carolina requires people younger than 21 wear helmets while on motorcycles, but is silent on people 21 and older. The city’s law makes not wearing a helmet a civil infraction – like a parking ticket. Violators can pay the $100 fine or appear before an administrative hearing judge to argue the citation.

One Comment leave one →
  1. goldiron permalink*
    February 28, 2009 10:01 pm

    By Rashad Midani
    WBTW News 13 Digital Journalist/Reporter
    Published: February 28, 2009

    Dozens of bikers met up at the Beaver Bar in Murrells Inlet for what they called the Myrtle Beach Helmet Freedom Ride.

    The bikers found out just before they took off that nearly a dozen police officers were waiting for them in the city limits of Myrtle Beach.

    That didn’t stop them.

    They cruised down Kings Highway, and as soon as they turned down Ocean Boulevard near the old front gate; Myrtle Beach Police Officers were ready to stop those not wearing helmets.

    “We’re out here, fighting for people’s rights. Not just for bikers, for everybody. I mean, you know, they tend to make ordinances and laws that infringe on everybody, in different shapes and forms. We just happen to be the ones willing to stand up and fight for ‘em,“ one of those in the Freedom Ride, Gary Balcom, said.

    Balcom and his wife were cited a $100 ticket for not wearing a helmet. And police told them they would be at risk as close as 5 feet away from where they were first ticketed for another $100 citation.

    At that point, Balcom said, he felt he had made a point, and decided not to continue down Ocean Boulevard.

    “It’s not just about helmets, it’s about Council and the Mayor, and Myrtle Beach trying to drive out the poor people off their property by raising taxes so they can have Myrtle Beach and do with it what they want,“ another rider, Richard Mercer said.

    They all came back to Murrells Inlet and attorney Tom McGrath will be representing all those who were cited, according to Balcom.

    http://www.scnow.com/scp/news/local/grand_strand/article/myrtle_beach_police_ticket_many_protesting_bikers/36085/

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