October 18th: Library 2 Library Bicycle Tour

October 18th: Library 2 Library Bike Tour!If you’ve enjoyed the recent posts about Mountain View Public Library’s Bike Events, now is the time to attend one yourself! On October 18th, the Mountain View Public Library will join three other local libraries to host the Library 2 Library Bicycle Tour: a fun bicycle tour for library lovers, bicycle enthusiasts, and bibliophiles. It will connect four Silicon Valley libraries, beginning in San Jose and ending in Mountain View. Each library stop will include a craft, a fun event, and a Library tour. Ride with the group or go at your own pace; just hop on and off whenever you want. Admission is, as always, free to the public. Be sure to bring a reusable water bottle and bike lock!

MVPL Bike Stop: Bike Fest

Check out BikeFest 2014 at MVPL

Check out BikeFest 2014 at MVPL

By the time summer rolled around, we had put together several smaller bike-related programs. We wanted to do something bigger. We decided to close our side parking lot and throw a BikeFest.

We sent out a broad call to local bike organizations, inviting them to take part. We did not charge any fees to participate, and we did not pay any group to join us. Here’s what we said:

The Mountain View Library BikeFest will create a space where bicyclists and bike organizations can gather together to celebrate bicycling in all its many variations. It will take place on Saturday, July 12th between 10 am and 1 pm, and will attract community members of all ages. It will take place in the surface parking lot adjacent to the library on Franklin Street, and may possibly also spill over into Pioneer Park.

We are looking for organizations who would like to participate. While your participation can be as simple as setting up a booth to answer questions, we would prefer for you offer a hands-on activity. This activity could be something like bike tune-ups, “test drives,” fittings, bike-related crafts or coloring, helmet adjustments, a rodeo or obstacle course, etc. Or it could be something entirely different and bike-related. We’re happy to discuss possibilities with you. Creativity encouraged! We hope to create a street fair atmosphere, similar to San Francisco’s Sunday Streets.

We asked participants to bring something interactive, and they did not disappoint. More than 150 patrons of all ages got to enjoy:

  • Cycletopia: a demonstration protected bike lane put together by Safe Streets Mountain View. It provided a green carpet entrance to the festivities.
  • Curators from the Pedal Power exhibit, which was on display at the Los Altos History Museum, brought a watt-meter bike which measured how many watts a patron generated by pedaling.
  • Great Streets Mountain View brought a small model of city streets where patrons could design their own bike lanes.
  • Safe Moves put together a rideable model of city streets, where kids could practice stopping at stop
    BikeFest at Mountain View Public Library

    BikeFest at Mountain View Public Library

    signs, crossing train tracks, and identifying hazards on the road. They also brought a blender bike, and we enjoyed making and eating bike-powered smoothies.

  • The Silicon Valley Bike Coalition brought their spin art bike. Patrons pedaled to power a paint spinner, making cool designs.
  • The Bay Area Bike Mobile came to do free tune-ups and repairs.
  • Beeline Bikes also did free tune-ups and repairs.
  • Cognition Cyclery brought an electric bike that patrons could test drive. They gave away free water bottles, answered questions, and yes, did free tune-ups and repairs.
  • The local YMCA brought three exercise bikes and did pop up spin classes.

In addition, Cycle California magazine sent us a big stack of magazines to give away. And of course the library set up a table with plenty of coloring activities available for everyone.

All in all, it was a great way to get to know some of our local bike organizations, and to introduce patrons to them as well. I saw a lot of good conversations and people having fun. But to be honest, one of my favorite moments was seeing an eight year old boy trudge up to the Bay Area Bike Mobile with two flat tires and then ride away laughing after they were fixed. We hope all of our events are as much fun.

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth 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: 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.