Moving Under Own Steam

Vanessa Edwards on the Alinker walking bike. Photo courtesy Te Awamutu Courier.

For the last nine years Vanessa Edwards has struggled to walk long distances, reports Bethany Rolston of the Te Awamutu Courier.

21 November 2017 –  Te Awamutu woman Vanessa Edwards has Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, a disease of the central nervous system that affects movement, sensation and body functions.

 

“My legs have a burning sensation all the time and I always feel tired,” she says.

“I can’t walk very far and get quite wobbly.”

“If I go shopping I have to park as close to the shop as possible.”

But thanks to a bright yellow walking bike, Mrs Edwards has found freedom.

The Alinker is a non-motorised three-wheeled walking bike without pedals.

It allows people with mobility challenges to live an active life.

The bike was designed by Dutch architect, humanitarian and inventor Barbara Alink, who made it for her mother.

Mrs Edwards is one of 30 New Zealanders trialling the bike for one month.

Life Unlimited Charitable Trust, the sole distributor of the bikes in New Zealand, has worked with Ms Alink to distribute the bikes through the Multiple Sclerosis Society of New Zealand.

The trust will research the effects of the Alinker bike on mobility and cognitive function. The participants will go in the draw and one will get to keep their Alinker.

Mrs Edwards says the bike has transformed her mobility.

“I used to be a gym bunny before I was diagnosed with MS. I would often walk around the Hamilton Lake.

“With MS you can’t walk very far — there’s no way I could get around Hamilton Lake by myself.

“But with the Alinker I would definitely be able to make it around that lake again.

“The bike uses muscles you don’t usually use. It just frees you up and gets you out and about — you’re not limited.”

Life Unlimited Charitable Trust general manager enterprise William Hughes says the bike stimulates social change.

“It’s about challenging people’s assumptions around people with mobility and disability challenges,” he says.

“The thing about the Alinker is that it’s a really cool bike. The coolness of the bike overshadows the impairment the person riding the bike might have — that becomes the focus of the conversation.

“It’s not about what your disability is, it’s about your cool bike.

“You’re seated in a mobility device at eye-level — that’s really important for social inclusion.”

The Alinker was introduced in the Netherlands three years ago.

The interest in New Zealand came about when Wellingtonian Christine O’Sullivan, who has had MS for 10 years, bought an Alinker offshore and rode it around the Wellington waterfront.

The Alinker bike comes in three sizes and can be purchased for $2,900 from www.lifeunlimitedstore.co.nz