Edmonton

Back to eye-level: Trike gives Edmonton woman new perspective on mobility

Ceilidh Corcoran feels about 10 feet tall in her bright yellow walking bike.

'You're perceived completely differently. You're standing up. You're at eye level'

Ceilidh Corcoran has had her new Dutch-designed bike for two weeks now. (Ceilidh Corcoran/Instagram)

Ceilidh Corcoran feels about 10 feet tall in her bright yellow walking bike.

Called an Alinker, the bike is designed to help people who have limited use of their legs or other mobility issues. 

"With this device, you're perceived completely differently," Corcoran said in an interview Thursday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "You're standing up. You're at eye level.

"People don't look at me and say, 'Oh, that poor girl. She's so young. She's in a wheelchair.

"People look at me now and think, 'Whoa, what is that? That looks really cool.' " 

About four years ago, Corcoran began experiencing severe pain in her hips. An MRI showed she had bilateral femoroacetabular impingement.

By June 2017, after two major surgeries, she developed a limp. By September she needed a wheelchair. The pain had become relentless. 

Corcoran, 40, could still stand and take a few steps, but walking for any length of time was difficult. 

"I didn't want to be in a wheelchair," she said.

"Sixty per cent of people that are in wheelchairs can use their legs but there is no in between. This is the in between." 

She came to rely on a scooter, a wheelchair and crutches to get around but felt confined and frustrated. She struggled to navigate the streets of Edmonton in her wheelchair and felt pitied by strangers.

In May, Corcoran came across an Instagram post showing actor Selma Blair riding a specialized tricycle. 

Blair has had mobility problems since being diagnosed with an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis.

"I got places to go!" Sometimes I can't do it on my own two feet," Blair wrote on Instagram. 

Corcoran soon began crowdfunding for her own Alinker. The Dutch-designed bikes cost $2,800, and the wait list for one has ballooned to more than four months.

"As soon as I saw it, I was on the computer. I knew this would be perfect for me."

"I knew that I needed it. I knew that I couldn't afford it and I knew that I needed help, and I was OK to ask for it." 

'Such a great feeling'

In the end, Blair "topped up" the financing for Corcoran's campaign, allowing her to purchase the bike after only one month of fundraising. 

The campaign helped Corcoran find a new support network of friends. 

"The crowdfunding for me was an absolutely wonderful experience," she said. "It was moving. I felt loved. It was exciting. It was wow." 

Corcoran has had the bike for two weeks. In honour of Blair, she named her bike Selma Be. 

The bike is helping her regain some strength in her lower body before she undergoes another major operation. It's also helping to restore her confidence.

"I used to get sympathy smiles," she said. "Now I get genuine smiles.

"I'm really hurting this week because I did so much last week. You totally overdo it but it's such a great feeling."

About the Author

Wallis Snowdon

Journalist

Wallis Snowdon is a digital journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has nearly a decade of experience reporting behind her. Originally from New Brunswick, her journalism career has taken her from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray. Share your stories with Wallis at wallis.snowdon@cbc.ca

With files from Emily Rendell-Watson