Canberra’s very own ‘Pedal Power’ Cinema

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Here at Pedal Power we were intrigued when we heard about Canberra's very own 'Pedal Powered' cinema, based at the Food Co-op Shop in Acton. We asked manager Jamie what this is all about...

Tell us a bit about the Pedal Power cinema – how does it work ?

The Pedal Powered Cinema is what it sounds like. “Actual” bikes fit into specially designed rack stands that power the projector and sound system as the bikes are pedaled. People volunteer to ride the bikes whilst the film plays. The pedaling volunteers are able to view the film as well. The rig can run on one bike, if necessary, but we recommend at least two riders to ensure continuity of power throughout the film. This also makes it easier for riders to switch off for periodic rests and toilet breaks without losing power. We have two permanent rack stands set up with bikes we have specifically designated for use with the cinema rig. We also have two additional rack stands for a total potential of four bikes powering the cinema rig at any given time. Potentially, any rider using any bicycle can connect and power the cinema rig.

What is the ethos of the Pedal Power cinema – why did you set it up in the first place?

In essence, we wanted the opportunity to provide information and entertainment without depending on the fossil fuel dominated power grid. The Pedal Powered Cinema is sustainable and portable. And, let’s face it… it’s an amazing concept.

Inspired by other Pedal Powered Cinemas around Australia (primarily Newcastle’s Cycle In Cinema), about a year and a half ago, the Food Cooperative Shop collaborated with a group called the Rat Patrol who builds all sorts of modified bicycles to finance and build the PPC. Another community group called Make Hack Void built the electronics necessary for the rig.

With the exception of one viewing at the Food Co-op early last year and a few events (including Corinbank & You Are Here) held with support from members of the Rat Patrol, the rig sat dormant in a garage of one of the builders’ until early this year when Mark Alwast of Amnesty International (and former Food Co-op manager) decided to use it for Amnesty’s film series Meaningful Movies hosted at the Food Co-op Shop. At that point, we relocated the rig to the storage room of the Food Co-op. It is now used for Amnesty’s ongoing series as well as being available for hire.

In addition to film, we are attempting to set up the rig for the possibility for Pedal Powered Videogaming.

Are many of your customers keen cyclists themselves?

A large portion of our members and customers are keen cyclists. The bike racks outside are almost always full especially during lunchtime and special events. I know at least a few of our members and customers are Pedal Power ACT members including one very key volunteer/member, but I am sure there are many more who are, unbeknownst to me.

Also, we sell secondhand, refurbished bikes in partnership with the Recyclery.

If someone wants to get involved in the Pedal Power cinema how can they do this?

Obviously, people can always attend films/events. When/if people attend events they always have the opportunity of volunteering to take a turn pedaling during the event. Additionally, we are looking for keen enthusiasts to learn how to operate and maintain the cinema rig to serve as operators during events at the Food Co-op as well as when the cinema rig is hired for off-premise use.

If anyone is interested in exploring any of the above volunteer/operator options or the possibility of hiring the cinema rig for events at the Food Co-op or off-premise, they can email us at

What events have you got coming up??

Wednesday 23 July – The ANU Environment Collective will be presenting some films in association with ANU’s Bush Week from 6pm – Free Entry

First Tuesday of Each Month – Amnesty International & The Food Co-op Shop present Meaningful Movies – Free Entry

To find out more, check out this link.


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