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Those orange bikes are going away

South Hill target of gym franchise marketing

July 13, 2015 Updated Mon., July 13, 2015 at 8:49 p.m.

They were gone almost as quickly as they appeared. A marketing ploy that involved 20 orange bicycles on the South Hill was abandoned Monday afternoon following a wave of criticism on social media. The bikes, which began appearing Friday evening, were removed by the same employees who put them there. They were hard to miss: old mountain bikes and road bikes and kids’ bikes, coated from tires to handlebars in thick orange spray paint, leaning against the pole of a stop sign, tethered to a handrail, resting under a tree. Each one had a sign on it, with a number and a logo. Orangetheory Fitness, a chain of exercise gyms based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has used the tactic in many communities to create buzz about new locations. The company plans to open a South Hill location in October, in the Rosauers parking lot on East 29th Avenue. But the orange bikes were offensive to some because they bore a resemblance to the white “ghost bikes” that line the route of the annual Ride of Silence in honor of bicyclists killed in motor vehicle accidents. Richard Cote, whose wife, Melissa Cote, will operate the planned new gym, said employees voluntarily collected the bikes and there was “no intention whatsoever to offend anybody.” He explained the numbered signs would have been used in a social media campaign; people would have competed to take selfies in front of the most unique bikes. Although eye-catching, the strategy has drawn complaints. Orangetheory met criticism last year after scattering orange bicycles across Seattle in anticipation of two locations there. It’s done the same thing in cities from Florida to Wisconsin to Oregon. Indeed, not everyone in Spokane was happy about the bikes either. City Councilman Michael Allen wrote in a Facebook comment, “A citizen cut a bike off the pole and dropped it by my house yesterday and I alerted Code Enforcement.”
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