On yer bike to see the movies in Christchurch

16:00, Feb 11 2012

Vintage bikers, road cyclists and mountain bikers travelled to Christchurch's newest cinema on Thursday night, and kept on pedalling once they arrived – the movie screening relied on it.

Even Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority chief executive Roger Sutton connected his bike to a cycle stand and pedalled away, ensuring the movie didn't stop for the 120 people who had come to watch.

Christchurch is home to New Zealand's first cycle-powered cinema. But the unique venture is only temporary – in a couple of weeks the site will once again return to being an empty plot of land, where two buildings once stood.

"They were OK in the September quake but the fronts of the buildings completely came down on February 22," Gap Filler co-founder and project co-ordinator Coralie Winn said.

Gap Filler was established after the September 2010 quake to breathe new life into empty sites throughout Christchurch. The cycle-powered cinema, once the site of a printing shop and Cycle Trading, is one of the group's most ambitious projects.

The group had originally thought of creating a drive-in, but realised it wasn't community orientated "and we're not the biggest fans of cars", Winn said.

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So she enlisted the help of two engineers who created a cycle-powered system.

The idea is that cyclists will bike to the outdoor cinema, on the corner of Manchester and Dundas Streets, connect their bikes to one of the 10 purpose-made stands, and start pedalling.

A light on the front of the stand tells them if they're pedalling fast enough to keep the movie running.

The stands are connected to a battery which powers the projector.

The first screening was on Thursday night. A movie will screen tonight and then the cinema takes a short break and is back in action from February 15-18.

"We're really interested in being innovative and trying new ideas so we don't necessarily plan to do the same project again," Winn said.

Gap Filler's next venture is a dance floor which gets its music and lighting from a coin-operated washing machine.

Sunday Star Times