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NOPL Bike Repair Stations Inspire Michigan Library's Newest Service

Most tourists leave New Orleans with beads, Carnival masks, or other trinkets, but one Michigan librarian’s visit resulted in a more meaningful souvenir –– a new resource for her community.

Last month, Harrison Township Public Library Director Melissa Goins unveiled their solar-powered bike repair station, which was inspired by her pre-pandemic vacation to New Orleans. 

“I like to visit other libraries while on vacation, so I stopped at the Main Library downtown when I was in New Orleans. While there were a lot of impressive things to offer –– like the recording equipment in the teen maker-space –– I was most impressed with the bicycle repair station,” Goins said. “I just thought that was a great idea to have that available for the public.” 

For the past few years, four New Orleans Public Library locations have been equipped with “FixIt Stations,” which provide cyclists with the tools they need to tune up their bikes and get them back on the road. 

Harrison Township Public Library Bike Stations
Phil Pertner, president of ESPAS Inc., of Clinton Township, and Harrison Township Public Library Director Melissa Goins stand by the newly installed bicycle maintenance station at the library May 14. Photo by Deb Jacques

Created in partnership with ESPAS Inc., the one in Harrison Township is the only solar-powered bicycle maintenance station in the state of Michigan. It features solar lighting, a solar-powered air pump, hanger arms for easy repair, various tools, and a USB-charger for phones. 

The New Orleans stations that inspired Goins were installed by Bike Easy in 2018 and 2019 in an effort to make cycling more accessible and safe. David Meza, Bike Easy’s community program coordinator, said when they started installing FixIt Stations across the city, they knew they wanted to include the Library. 

The Bike Easy FixIt Station logo shows a bicycle and a wrench.
Bike Easy FixIt Station

The Library has been an important partner of ours for years now. So, when we first launched the public FixIt Stations, we knew that –– as two organizations working to provide equity in resources to residents –– the Library was an obvious place for them,” Meza said. “We strategically picked four locations: the Main Library on Loyola Avenue, Nora Navra on St. Bernard, Norman Mayer on Gentilly, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in the 9th Ward, to make sure they were accessible throughout New Orleans.”

Meza said when they heard how the Library’s FixIt Stations inspired Goins to lead Harrison Township’s project, the Bike Easy team was thrilled. 

“We’re always finding ourselves inspired by work we see across the globe to promote safe biking, and to know that our partnership with the Library led to more bike accessibility and safety across the country is awesome,” Meza said. “There are few vehicles as important to equity as bicycles. It’s great to know that the work we’re doing here is helping to spread the message that access to safe and sustainable transportation should be free and common.” 

Bike Easy maintains a total of 20 FixIt stations around New Orleans. In addition to the stations, the Library and Bike Easy’s Partnership produces dozens of free programs and events every year. 

Back in Harrison Township, Phil Pertner, president of ESPAS Inc., said they hope the bike maintenance station at the library is the first of many. 

“Eventually, in the future, we want to reach out to some of the parks and bike paths in Michigan. It’s environmentally friendly, and it’s a good thing,” Pertner told the Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal.

For Goins, being able to turn a vacation into a community improvement project is exactly what being a librarian is all about. 

“I’m so glad I was able to bring such a great idea back to my library,” Goins said. “We like to add value to the community, so this is just another way that the library can.” 

Learn how to get the most out of Bike Easy’s FixIt Stations at a free maintenance workshop Tuesday, June 15 from 5:30 – 7:30pm outside Main Library.

(First photo courtesy of C&G Newspapers)