In early August, the Zoobombers moved their jumbled stack of mini bikes—which they use every weekend to ride down the hill from the Oregon Zoo—from their old bike rack on SW Oak, across from Rocco's Pizza, to a more visible one on the W Burnside traffic island across from Powell's front door.
David, a representative for the Zoobombers, says the new bike spot—otherwise known as "underneath the nutsack" by the group, referring to the swaying "Pod" metal sculpture on the median—is better than the old spot because its visibility offers protection from thieves.
The new spot is also just a few feet away from the front door of a hip, upscale restaurant. And on August 9, that restaurant's manager complained to the city that the bikes were "detracting from efforts to beautify Burnside."
Ron Mitchell, general manager of the Aura Restaurant and Lounge on W Burnside, emailed City Commissioner Sam Adams' office to ask that the pile be moved to make way for a permitted charity event the restaurant had organized for last weekend.
"It sounds like this is a touchy issue," added Mitchell—who stood by his request when contacted by the Mercury—"but I would really appreciate your help in getting them moved off the median, as it really seems to detract from the sculpture that is on display. I really feel that it looks a little junky since no serious bike owner would allow their bike to be locked up at the bottom of a stack of other bikes."
In response to Mitchell's email, the city worked with the Zoobombers and the Portland Transportation Department to get the pile moved back to its original location on SW Oak to make way for the charity event. But according to Senior Policy Director Roland Chlapowski at Sam Adams' office, their efforts did not address the longer-term issue—of whether the bike stack should be allowed on the median.
Chlapowski told the Mercury, "Our office understands the desire for small business folk to have a clear sidewalk, but we've not gotten to the point where we're going to say no Zoobomb bikes on the right of way. We respect that the Zoobombers are a Portland institution."
The Zoobombers' David doesn't "want to piss anyone off," so they moved the bikes for now. "But this really makes [Mitchell] look bad," he says. "We're serious cyclists and in my opinion, not only is the stack itself a work of art, it's also practical."