This Is Not Art festival (TINA) is a new media festival held across numerous venues in the city centre of Newcastle, Australia. Its cutting edge programme includes Electrofringe, Sound Summit, National Young Writers Festival, Critical Animals and a massive Zine Fair. People from around the country and across the world attend.

Although the festival venues are all quite close, the programme is packed full and getting from one venue to the other is sometimes a rush. As a response to this, innovative volunteers came up with a couple of sustainable transport concepts.

In 2005 a number of ‘White Bikes’ were released on to the streets of Newcastle during the festival, branded with stickers that read ‘free for your use’.  A mysterious man, only known as ‘the White Rider’ was believed to be behind them. The bikes became communal property and were left outside venues. If a bike was outside a venue event attendees were  free to take it to ride to another venue. The theory was that there would always be bikes outside all venues. The project was not repeated, perhaps because none of the bikes were returned, or because the organisers moved onto other projects…

In 2008, the White Bike Project was given a tune up and morphed into the TINA Bike Library co-ordinated by bike activists from the Newcastle Bike Ecology Centre. This time more, and better bikes were pulled together and event attendees could loan them out for the duration of the festival. This ensured that the bikes made it back at the end and also gave those who wanted to ride, the guarantee that they would have a bike always available.

The Bike Library offered people the opportunity to ‘book a bike’ before the festival started to ensure that one will be available. This booking includes a $30 refundable deposit as well as the use of a bike lock and helmet. All the bikes are made up of salvaged and donated bike parts, which gives each bike a sometimes wacky, always organic edge. The bikes were constructed and maintained by the Newcastle Bike Ecology Centre, an organisation run by volunteers to train the community in building and maintaining bikes, as well as environmental and sustainable transport education.

The TINA Bike Library also offered workshops for fixing and mending bikes. In its first year over 60 bikes were booked before the festival even began. All the bikes were decked out with ‘licence plates’ that gave the bikes individualised names and identities. While ‘Wayne’ ended up hanging from lamp post at the end of the festival, most of the bikes were returned to the TINA Bike Library on the last day. This is attributed to the $30 deposit and was a way of encouraging the bike’s return. Still, it is an important philosophy to keep when running a bike library that a lost bike from the library means more bikes (and less cars) on the road.