ColumBIKE is going back to the drawing board after a city board rejected a whimsical moving sign the bike-sharing program had proposed for its administrative offices.

But two parts of ColumBIKE’s proposal for the front of 951 Second St. were approved by the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals, giving them something to base a new design on.

The bike-sharing program created through the Columbus Park Foundation, which began operations in May after a year of preparation and fund-raising, had hoped to place a moving, lighted sign on the building, owned by Tom Wetherald of Columbus.

The design featured bike wheels around the ColumBIKE logo, with a translucent photo of bike riders covering the long horizontal window at the front of the building.

The bike wheels on the exterior of the building are designed to move and light up when someone rides a stationary bike inside the building, said Melissa McKenney, representing the company that designed the sign, Green Sign Co. of Greensburg.

However, the board agreed with some of the city planning department’s recommendations, which pointed out that the sign area of the building exceeded the city’s limits on maximum sign size by 103 square feet and the window sign would exceed it by 137 square feet. Also, city rules prohibit building signs that flash, move or rotate.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle ColumBIKE faced was voiced by board member Dave Fisher, who asked why the board should even consider a city-related entity being allowed to break up to three sign rules.

A long discussion ensued about how to give the bike program something of what it sought, but still keep the sign within sign-ordinance parameters.

“This sign needs to come into compliance size-wise,” Fisher said.

Board members allowed the foundation to keep the translucent full-window sign, but asked the applicants to return with a redesigned bike wheel design for the top of the building that would keep the sign’s square footage within the city’s size limits.

The board also allowed an exception for the moving wheels, but asked that the lights be eliminated, even though they would only be on during the day if and when the wheels rotated.

Plans are already underway for a revise on the sign, said Dick Boyce, volunteer coordinator for the park foundation.

Saying losing the lighting wasn’t all that critical, Boyce said he’s asking the sign company to look at the footprint of the design to see if the wheels can be reconfigured to meet the sign size requirements, but still cover the two-tone look of the front of the building.

“What we will probably do is move the sign closer to the west end of the building and use the wheels to come around it,” he said.

Riding the stationary bike inside to make the wheels move was an idea to provide a photo opportunity to visitors who stop in to buy a pass to use ColumBIKE bikes, Boyce said. Someone inside will ride the bike to move the wheels while a photo is taken outside

Boyce said he understood that board members were rightfully concerned about the park foundation asking for multiple exceptions to the rules.

“It’s OK — they have rules and regulations for a good reason, and we need to figure out how to live within those rules,” he said.

What's next

The Columbus Park Foundation may return with a new proposal for the ColumBIKE wall sign at a future Board of Zoning Appeals meeting after agreeing to modify and change its proposal to meet the city’s requirement on sign size.

Author photo
Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.