Environment Transportation The Alinker Is "The Walking Bike for an Active Life" By Lloyd Alter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Lloyd Alter Updated May 03, 2020 Lloyd Alter / CC BY 2.0 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Transportation Active Automotive Aviation Public Transportation What a cool way to get around if you have trouble walking or cycling. It's a common complaint in debates about bike lanes that "not everyone can cycle." It's true; a lot of people can't walk long distances, either. That's why the Alinker walking bike is such a brilliant invention. Dutch designer and architect Barbara Alink invented it after her mother complained about walkers and scooters: "Over my dead body will I ever use one of those!" I ran into Barbara at Open Streets in Toronto recently and just fell in love with it. A Design for Everyone Lloyd Alter / CC BY 2.0 Barbara designed it with her mom in mind, but it has a much bigger audience than just people who are aging. There are landmine victims, amputees, people with degenerative diseases -- many different people for whom walking long distances is difficult or painful. And it doesn't look like some medical mobility device. The Alinker is for everyone who wants to maintain an active life regardless of their movement abilities/disabilities. It is designed to be so cool that it overcomes the uneasiness towards disabilities that is felt by mainstream society. When you are using the Alinker you are the person with that cool bike rather than someone who is overlooked or ignored. The Alinker is challenging assumptions about people with disabilities and is striving to build a more inclusive community. The Alinker Advantages Alinker My mom (who once owned an adult tricycle) would have loved this. Her canes and then her walker took some of the weight off her bum knee, but with this, she could have kept going to the galleries that she loved. It has bigger wheels than a walker so it can handle typical crappy North American sidewalks better than a walker. It is a lot cheaper and lighter than a motorized scooter and could probably do the job for a lot of people who don't get any exercise in the scooter, but could with this. The main advantages: users sit upright at eye level with standing companions weight is supported by the seat with no stress on the lower body handle bars provide additional support feet remain on the ground keeping users stable and safe Given that it seems more like a bike than a walker, I asked if users had any trouble taking it into museums and public buildings. Barbara told me that it is designed to have a smaller footprint than a wheelchair, so it can go anywhere a wheelchair can. One museum in the Netherlands caused some trouble at first (she says that the Dutch "are very conservative") but they all accept it now. Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0 It also folds up quickly and easily, small enough to fit into a Toyota Yaris or a Smart Car. It is a lot more efficient and easier to use than a walker, too. One Vancouver user says, "I always have a smile on my face when I’m on it and it’s such a great feeling! 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.” Inventor Barbara uses it herself: " I have suffered from back pain myself for many years, especially when running, so I use the Alinker because it allows me to run with my partner and friends." TreeHuggers will also appreciate that Alinker has partnered with Tree Sisters, and plants 50 trees for every Alinker produced. Empowering People to Keep Moving There is so much to love about this. When people lose the ability to walk easily, it is the start of a downward spiral of declining health and fitness. The Alinker takes a serious load off the legs and is serious fun to ride, kind of like I imagine Karl von Drais felt when he invented the Laufmaschine 201 years ago. This really is a revolutionary alternative for people of all ages, who could be whizzing down the bike lanes, going faster and farther than they could before. It is a "socially inclusive solution for those who want to stay in the game." Get more information and order online at Alinker. Available in three sizes and any color you want, as long as it is yellow. I interviewed Barbara Alinka and apologize for the loud music in the background and for being so in her face, because of loud music in background.