Alinker Walking Bike
What has changed the lives of all these people and many more around the world? The Alinker walking bike is designed for how people want to live. The yellow bike allows users, including amputees, to use their legs to move. With a “footprint” smaller than a wheelchair, the Alinker is welcome in grocery stores, museums and malls, as well as outdoors. The user sits upright at a level nearly as tall as standing height, allowing for easy social interaction.
“Over my dead body will I use one of those!” Barbara Alink’s mother was expressing her distaste for that all-too-common device used by older adults to get around: the walker. She didn’t like the stigma associated with the device; she wanted to stay more active. Luckily, her daughter is an engineer and took heed of the need for a walking assist that would allow movement and be perceived as cool.
Who Is It For?
Now, it’s not just older adults who are using the bike. Landmine victims, amputees, people with multiple sclerosis and other degenerative diseases, those with back pain, and many for whom walking is painful use the Alinker. More than 60% of people who use a wheelchair can still move their legs and potentially ride the Alinker. Users like that it doesn’t look like a medical device.
“You’re perceived completely differently. You’re standing up. You’re at eye level,” says Ceilidh Corcoran, 40. Diagnosed with a hip condition four years ago, after two surgeries she started limping. Soon after, the pain of walking drove her to a wheelchair. She negotiated life with a scooter, wheelchair and crutches, then saw an Instagram post from actor Selma Blair, who has MS. It featured a photo of Blair on her Alinker, and text that read, “I got places to go! Sometimes I can’t do it on my own two feet.” Blair enthused about her bike, and Corcoran longed for one for herself.
After a crowdfunding campaign and some financial help from Blair, Corcoran is loving her new bike. “I used to get sympathy smiles. Now I get genuine smiles,” she says. “I’m really hurting this week because I did so much last week. You totally overdo it (at first), but it’s such a great feeling.”
The Alinker has five distinct advantages:
- Users sit upright, at about the same eye level as those standing.
- Lower body stress is minimal because the seat takes the user’s weight.
- Feet are on the ground, not pedals, for stability and safety.
- Handlebars provide support and stability.
- It is perceived as a bike, not a disability device.
Users also give it kudos for its portability. The 26-pound bike folds up easily for transport in the smallest car. “I always have a smile on my face when I’m on it, and it’s such a great feeling!” enthuses one Vancouver user. “Instead of sitting in the wheelchair and feeling a lot more disabled, this makes me feel like I’m on my way to becoming healthy again. I can just take it anywhere.”