MVPL Bike Stop: Bike Maintenance and Repair/Monthly Bike Clinics

Doing a basic bike repair and maintenance class seemed like kind of a no-brainer, especially in light of our installation of the Dero Fixit station. The FixIt station provided tools, now we just needed to make sure people knew how to work with them.

Bicycle repair photograph

Bicycle Repair Man de serviço photo by
CENAS A PEDAL mobilidade

In the process of publicizing some of our bike events, I went to a local bike shop that offers maintenance and repair classes and just happened to meet one of their teachers, Ryan Murphy. Ryan is a friendly, knowledgeable, laid-back guy, who is passionate about fixing bikes. I asked him if he’d be willing to do a class on basic bike maintenance and repair.

We hammered out the details. The class would run an hour and a half. We would cap it at 30 students, we’d allow people of all ages to attend and we would also invite people to bring their own bikes. The class would take place at 4:30 on a Friday in late June.

We ended up with 24 attendees, adults of all ages and a small handful of teenage boys. Ryan brought his tools and a repair stand (he also has a mobile bike repair business). He walked people through the basic structure of a bike, and used participants’ bikes to illustrate common problems. Ryan’s passion and approachability made it a great experience. He allowed the problems with the bikes that were present to shape the structure of the class.

In fact, since the majority of attendees brought a broken bike with them, we realized that it would be useful to offer a regular bike clinic. People could get advice from a professional mechanic on how to fix their bikes and introduce them to the MVPL’s FixIt Station. We decided that third Fridays would be a good schedule, from 4:30 to 5.

As of the date of writing, we’ve had two monthly clinics—each with about 15-20 attendees—with Ryan set up at the FixIt station outside the library. There seems to be a pretty healthy population of people who have bikes with problems and he also gets a lot of interest from passersby. Ryan is hands-on with people’s bikes and explains what he is seeing and doing as he works. He answers questions and is extremely approachable. It’s really a lovely program. Right now we’re considering finding him an assistant—maybe a local high school student with an interest in bikes. Regardless, we hope to continue providing this service in an effort to promote the Mountain View Public Library as a hub for the cycling community.

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth Mountain View Public Library Bike Stop blog post focusing on the results of their Pacific Library Partnership Innovation and Technology Opportunity Grant Program. This series is written by Emily Weak, Adult Services Librarian at Mountain View Public Library.

MVPL Bike Stop: National Bike Month

May is National Bike month, and we decided to do it up right with a book display, two bike-focused programs (both urban skills classes), and participating in both Bike to Work day and Bike to Shop day.

Book Display

We purchased 26 bike-related titles, using grant money as well as a bit of our regular collection budget. These titles, in addition to what we already had, made for a well-rounded display. You can see the full list of what we put on display here, but they included:

Urban Bike Skills, Part One: Be a Cyclist

The League of American Bicyclists has a standard Urban Bike Skills course, which is four hours long, and provide contact information for certified trainers on their website. Urban bike skills is essentially a more exciting way to say bike safety, but it also includes discussions of cyclists’ rights and how to be more comfortable on a bike. The four hour course teaches participants how to choose a bike, how to make sure a helmet fits, traffic rules, cyclist’s rights, and most importantly how to drive a bike safely in different urban situations (such as negotiating a line of parked cars, a left turn, a crosswalk, etc.)

Bike Stop Event photo courtesy of Paul Sims

Bike Stop Event photo courtesy of Paul Sims

But four hours is a long time for a library program. We asked our presenter to condense the course down to two hours.

We held our Urban Bike Skills program on a Saturday, from 12:30 to 2:30 and attracted 24 patrons. We specified that the program was for adults and teens and while the majority of attendees were adults, one woman did bring her two children who bicycled (one a young teen and the other who was probably around 7 or 8). The 7 year old had a little trouble sitting quietly, but our AHC policy (Always Have Crayons) helped. Our former mayor (and current city councilman) also attended, which was a nice addition, and I even had a few patrons who couldn’t make it contact me to ask if we were going to do the program again.

The presenter spent the first half hour talking with participants about why they were at the class. She got a variety of answers, but most wanted to feel safer in traffic. The mother with children said that her oldest already biked everywhere, so she wanted to understand what he needed to do to be safe.

The personal information shared by people at the beginning of the program—wanting to feel safe, wanting more information about biking—as well as the inquiries about offering the program again made it clear that there is a need for this kind of information in the community. The mother attending with children makes me think that bike skills would be an interesting family or all-ages program and I can see a really positive outcome in all members of a family having the same understanding of bike safety and learning skills together.

Bike to Work Day/Unveiling the Dero FixIt Station

On May 8th, our community celebrated Bike to Work day. This day is intended to get people biking to work. The regional Bike Coalition organizes energizer stations, run by local businesses or organizations, where

Bike Stop Reveal photo courtesy of Paul Sims

Bike Stop Reveal photo courtesy of Paul Sims

bikers can stop and get snacks and swag. Our city traditionally runs an energizer station and does a few extra things to encourage city employees to bike to work—a group photo, a lunchtime Bike with the Boss ride, and prizes for people who bike the farthest. The library decided that this would be a great day to officially unveil the Dero FixIt station.

Our city manager ended his Bike with the Boss ride at the Fixit station and several city council members also attended, as well as members of the public. We set up a table with granola bars, water, and Library Bike Stop stickers. We also invited a couple “fixers”, to do tune ups for people. One fixer came from our local non-profit, The Bike Exchange, which rehabs and then distributes bikes to low income individuals. He was able to provide expertise about how the tools on the Fixit station should be used, and shared his experiences as a longtime local biker. The other group of fixers were from Bay Area BikeMobile, a regional non-profit which will go to schools, libraries, and other organizations to provide free bike tune-ups. Although they are primarily youth and family focused, they also help adults and are really a lot of fun. The event provided an opportunity for a lot of great casual conversation between bicyclists and city council members (some of whom are also bicyclists).

Theft Proof Bike

One barrier to riding everyday is the fear that one’s bike will be stolen. We asked our police department to put together a program about keeping bikes out of the hands of theives. Our Press Information Officer, Sergeant Saul Jaeger, put together a great presentation. He provided lots of great tips and answered audience questions.

Bike to Shop Day

Kidical Mass at MVPL photo courtesy of Paul Sims

Kidical Mass at MVPL photo courtesy of Paul Sims

Riffing off the success of Bike to Work day, in 2014 the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition launched Bike to Shop Day. So of course we had to participate!  Spearheaded by Janet Lafleur, who led our Shop by Bike workshop, Bike to Shop day asked local businesses to provide an incentive for people to do their errands on their bikes. The library offered bookbags to the first 50 people to show their helmet and library card at the 2nd floor reference desk. On this day we were also the gathering point for a shopping themed Kidical Mass (Mountain View’s family bike ride).

Urban Bike Skills Two: Road Skills

The League of American Bicyclists have a standard road skills workshop, which is designed to follow their four hour classroom workshop. We held our road skills workshop a couple weeks after our classroom skills workshop, which was a prerequisite. We asked our instructor to again shorten the workshop down to two hours.

Following a brief review of the information from the classroom workshop, the first part of class was drills which was followed by a street ride. We held the class on a Sunday morning before the library opened, blocking off the surface parking lot for the drills portion. 8 people attended and it was great to do an outdoors, move-around library program. Hitting the streets also gave us an opportunity to do a little library marketing—people were curious about the ride, and when we stopped at our Dero FixIt station, I was able to talk to passersby about our bike programs.

These programs provided a great opportunity for the library to engage the community and increase public safety. We’ve connected with lots of great people and turned the library into a hub of cycling information which will doubtless serve us well in the future! The next post in this series will focus on Bike Maintenance and Repair class which turned into a regular Montly Bike Clinic.

Editor’s Note: This is the third Mountain View Public Library Bike Stop blog post focusing on the results of their Pacific Library Partnership Innovation and Technology Opportunity Grant Program. This series is written by Emily Weak, Adult Services Librarian at Mountain View Public Library.

MVPL Bike Stop: How to Ditch Your Car and Shop by Bike Workshop

Photo courtesy of  Janet Lafleur

Photo courtesy of Janet Lafleur

Editor’s Note: This is the second Mountain View Public Library Bike Stop blog post focusing on the results of their Pacific Library Partnership Innovation and Technology Opportunity Grant Program. This series is written by Emily Weak, Adult Services Librarian at Mountain View Public Library. 

Our library received a Pacific Library Partnership Innovation and Technology Opportunity Grant for an initiative called Library Bike Stop. In addition to purchasing a free-standing bike repair station for installation outside the library, the Grant funded books and additional tools. We also committed to providing at least ten bike-focused library programs. These programs allow us to serve a more traditional library function: providing information. Infrastructure is important when supporting bicycling, but so is making sure people have the confidence that comes with knowledge and understanding.

Our first Library Bike Stop program was titled How to Ditch Your Car and Shop by Bike.

I met local cyclist and blogger Janet Lafleur when I attended our city chapter’s meeting of the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition, an organization whose purpose is to advocate for cyclists and cycling infrastructure. During the course of the discussion, Lafleur spoke about her experiences shopping by bike. Afterwards, we continued the conversation; she told me how she bought groceries, visited big box stores, and even bought her Christmas trees without a car. It struck me that a woman who was unafraid to pedal around town with a six foot tree strapped to her bike might have some bike shopping skills worth sharing.

Lafleur also seemed like a perfect person to launch our programming series; she is passionate about biking, has integrated it into her daily life, and has strong ties to the local biking community. Her bike shopping skills mean she has knowledge which is not well described anywhere else which she able to share with others in a very engaging manner.

Photo courtesy of Janet Lafleur

We held the program at 3 PM on a Saturday and Lafleur’s presentation was about 30 minutes long. Her slides were dominated by wonderful photos that illustrated different strategies of shopping and carrying things by bike. She brought two bikes and her bike trailer, as well as a number of different bags, baskets, bungees and clips. She also invited a special guest who was able to bring a long tail bike. In a great piece of commuter bicyclist showmanship, this guest brought her folding bike as well, strapped to the back of the long tail bike. Throughout the presentation, the audience asked lots of great questions, and people shared strategies and experiences.

Last year, our library had a maker grant and this experience, as well as our commitment to participatory programming, inspired me to include a hands-on project as the second half of our program. I found a great DIY bike shopping accessory on a bike forum – grocery bag panniers made from reusable bags. We asked participants to bring their own shopping bags or to purchase bags from the Friends of the Library. The basic technique is to cut one strap on each bag, and then sew those together. It is fairly simple process and let us set up and show off the library’s four digital sewing machines.

A few weeks after the program Janet Lafleur put together a blog post based on our instructions and pictures she had taken, and this post proved quite popular (she also said some really nice things about libraries and librarians).

This program was a positive start for the grant programming. We were able to make a solid connection with Janet, who is established in the local bicycling community, and reach out to  some of the community’s novice cyclists.

Information about biking, especially for those who are trying to integrate it into day-to-day life—rather than biking trails on the weekend—is an experience-based, person-to-person shared knowledge. The best way to answer questions like: Which streets are safe?  Should you buy panniers or a basket?  What kinds of regular clothes will stand up to a commute and  full day of work without being smelly?  How do you get your bike on the train politely? is to ask someone to share their experience. But for those who don’t already know an expert cyclist, our Shop by Bike program kicked off our library’s efforts to transmit this experiential knowledge to a wider network of folks.

The Mountain View Public Library’s Bike Stop

Mountain View Public Library Bike Stop Photo by Paul Sims

Mountain View Public Library Bike Stop Photo by Paul Sims

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of guest posts by Emily Weak, an Adult Services Librarian at the Mountain View Public Library. New installments will be posted every Monday.

One of our City’s Council’s goals for the current two fiscal years is to make it easier for our community to access the city as bicyclists or pedestrians. The Library is supporting this goal through an initiative called Library Bike Stop, which is funded by a grant from the Pacific Library Partnership.

The focal piece of the initiative is a piece of equipment called a Dero Fixit Station. This is a freestanding structure installed near our bike racks in front of the library. It has a rack that you can hang a bike from, tools such as tire levers and wrenches, and a very sturdy bike pump. Dero also provides QR codes, affixed to the station, that link to instructional videos on bike repair.


Mountain View Public Library Bike Stop Photo by Paul Sims

We installed the Fixit station in early April (2014), intending to do a soft launch and a more formal “unveiling” on Bike to Work Day (May 8th). However, it almost immediately began creating a buzz. Our local paper ran a story about it (and this is a rare case on the internet when I encourage you to read the comments – they are very positive). In addition to being used regularly by bicyclists of all ages, it creates a point of conversation for the community; cyclists gather at the station, lending each other advice and assistance. And it serves as a symbol of our city’s commitment to support cycling.

The Library Bike Stop grant, which was written by Paul Sims, also includes funding for ten programs as well as additional tools and books. Over the next few weeks, I will describe here how we have implemented these elements. For example, we’ve hosted a workshop on shopping by bike, taught Urban Bike Skills, started a monthly bike clinic, invited museum curators to talk about the history of the bike, thrown a BikeFest, and are in the midst of planning a multi-library bike tour. Upcoming posts will focus on each of these topics.