The Rinky Dink

The travelling pedal-powered sound system against war and injustice!

I first encountered the Rinky Dink at the Make Poverty History demonstration in Scotland in 2005, and later saw it in full swing at a blockade of Faslane nuclear submarine base around the same time. It is quite a sight - a multi-coloured, multi-person machine, flags flying, windmills spinning, music blaring.

Picture the scene: people of all shapes and ages are sat by the North gate on the tarmac, chatting and picnicking, and blockading together. All of a sudden, from the right hand side, a column of rebel clowns come marching. One, two, one two! They infiltrate the row of policemen in their colander-helmets and start a little routine - 'where are the weapons of mass destruction?' 'They're behind you!' Then from the left a group of devoted Christian activists from Iona arrive, and begin a small service to pray for peace - the minister is giving a sermon of sorts. And in the midst of this somewhat chaotic community is the Rinky Dink. Pedallers take turns to power the amp so that musicians and speakers can share their thoughts and songs.

I suppose its hardly surprising that bicycles, ingenuity and political radicalism should come together in this way. Apart from the obvious relevance to environmental causes - generating power by sun, wind and people rather than fossil fuels - and the cooperativism implicit in this many-seated construction (some pedal, others play), there is also something subversive about the bicycle itself, and about the creativity of people who build them. From DIY tall bike jousters to long-distance cycle tourers to your ordinary cycle commuter, the bicycle allows people to escape the monotony and alienation of the daily grind, even if only in a small way.

" Most of us live in a world where more and more places and things are signposted, labelled and officially 'interpreted', turning the reality of things into virtual reality. It is the reason why walking, cycling and swimming will always be subversive activities. They allow us to regain a sense of what is old and wild in these islands by getting off the beaten track and breaking free of the official versions of things." - Roger Deakin, Waterlog

Thanks to Flickr user Vertigogen for the first photograph.

Read More:

The Passenger-Propelled Rickshaw

The Other Island

Rinky Dink homepage

The Laboratory of C.H.U.N.K. 666

Fun Bikes on Cyclorama