You want to walk the dog. You might like to browse at a flea market or go to the local fair.
Simple pursuits, yet painful, and maybe impossible. When mobility decreases with age or disease, the world gets smaller.
Dutch designer Barbara Alink thought about all of these issues when her mother needed a mobility device and refused to use walkers or rolling chairs. So Alink came up with a new device.
Her creation — the Alinker — is a walking bike, a bike without pedals that has two large wheels in front and one small wheel in back. Users sit on the seat and walk the bike with a striding motion, rolling it along at a brisk pace, stopping to rest or browse around or chat when they want.
The Alinker has some very useful features:
* No leg lifting. Users simply walk into the bike over the small back wheel — no need to swing a leg over the seat.
* Eye level. The seat on the bike lifts the user up nearly to eye level of other people and store shelves. Unlike a wheelchair, the Alinker rider can glide alongside people on a sidewalk.
* Walking speed: Users travel at the same walking speed as pedestrians (or faster if they want.)
* Balance: The bike has two big wheels at the front to provide stability and balance and a small wheel at the back.
* It can be controlled with just one leg on the ground. The Alinker has a bar in front that can serve as a foot rest.
* It’s portable. The 26-pound Alinker is foldable and can fit in a trunk. Unlike a scooter or an electric trike, you can take it with you. It will fit in a elevator.
* It is active. The rider uses legs for power, but the device takes pressure off the back and joints.
Drawbacks: At $2,700, the Alinker is not inexpensive and costs the same as an electric trike. It has about the same footprint as a wheelchair, so some users say it won’t go into tight spaces.