BEND, Ore. — A marketing ploy for a fitness gym coming to Bend is causing concern and confusion among locals who think they’re viewing a tribute to victims of gun violence or fatal bicycle accidents.
Orangetheory Fitness, a national fitness chain scheduled to open this fall in the Old Mill District, has cluttered the city with spray-painted orange bicycles, locked to power poles and signs along well-traveled streets.
At first glance, some Bend residents thought the orange bicycles were a temporary art project or maybe a way to recognize Gun Violence Awareness Month, which is promoted by people wearing orange.
Haley Herbert, who works in the bicycle shop at The Gear Fix on Industrial Way — near several of the orange bicycles — said they’re getting mixed reviews from those in the shop. Herbert initially thought the bicycles were part of the international Ghost Bikes campaign, which uses white bicycles as memorials where bicyclists were killed. One Ghost Bike is on Second Avenue in Southwest Bend to honor 50-year-old Bend resident Keith Moon, who died in August 2008 when an SUV crashed into him.
“That’s the first thing I thought,” Herbert said. “I’m from New Orleans, and we have Ghost Bikes. From where I’m from, we had a lot of them.”
Bend Police and the city’s code enforcement office were flooded with calls when Bend drivers saw the orange bicycles Monday and Tuesday.
James Goff, the city’s code enforcement officer, said he first noticed one of the bicycles over the holiday weekend in the Old Mill District. Goff did not think much of it, thinking it was similar to someone placing a Santa hat on one of the city’s statues during the holidays.
By Tuesday, Goff discovered the bicycles were all over town and Orangetheory Fitness was to blame. The company did not have permission from the city, and the locked bicycles violate two different city codes, Goff said.
“Their idea is, ‘we are going to do it and ask for forgiveness later,'” Goff said. “It’s not a great way to introduce yourself to the community.”
Goff contacted the landlord of the fitness center’s new location on Powerhouse Drive and has started noticing bicycles being removed, at least around the Old Mill District.
Bend Police Lt. Clint Burleigh said the fitness center, as of Wednesday afternoon, had not yet returned his calls. Burleigh said he simply wants the business to remove its bicycles, so he does not have to issue a citation or impound the bicycles.
“I don’t want to take their bikes,” Burleigh said. “I just want to talk to them.”
Orangetheory Fitness did not respond when contacted by The Bulletin.
Since the bicycles symbolize the business, they could be considered a sign code violation. The fine for violating the sign code is $750 per day per sign, or in this case per bicycle.
Goff said he does not foresee having to issue any citation, so long as the business cooperates.
Citations have happened in the past, though.
The city previously had to fine a painting company $4,500 for plastering yard signs.
It’s a fine line between encouraging a new business, and making the business follow the rules, Goff said.
“Instead of starting out with a positive feel in the community, they already have a black mark against them,” Goff said. “I personally feel bad saying, ‘welcome to Bend, here is a letter. You are out of compliance.'”
Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com