Through their combined passions for bicycling, design and creating a positive social impact, two industrial designers from Mexico City have designed vehicles that enable physically disabled people to move independently in urban and domestic settings.
Vanessa Valencia and Amadeo Medina have created a device for wheelchairs that allows the user to travel faster while outdoors, propelling the wheelchair with a pedal-like mechanism powered with the arms.
Once inside, the pedal-handle contraption, called a handbike, can be stored and the user can move around normally in the wheelchair.
Sold under the commercial name dTbike, the pedal-powered wheelchair is the result of years of development and has now become the signature product of Valencia and Medina’s own firm, Ecotenka.
The idea dates back to 2011. Three years later, the project incubator Startup México granted the duo a scholarship that allowed them to get familiar with the necessary commercial operations to move forward with their project and create their own company.
By 2015, the Secretariat of Environment of Mexico City included innovations developed by Ecotenka to the program called Muévete en Bici, or Move Around on a Bike.
In the same year, the Miguel Hidalgo borough bought two vehicles and other products designed at Ecotenka.
While the dTbike and its three variants are their crown jewels, Valencia and Medina have also designed other bicycle-related products, such as one that enables a bicycle rider to tow a fully-equipped coffee shop, a mobile library, a cinema or even a small gallery.
The two designers have also created a tandem bicycle that can comfortably carry up to 12 people.
Success notwithstanding, Valencia and Medina continue to seek better ways in which to reach those that need their products the most. With that goal in mind, the two are currently discussing a partnership with the non-governmental organization Vida Independiente, or Independent Life, dedicated to promoting the social and labor inclusion of physically disabled people.
Ecotenka market is now growing internationally. A Canadian retailer is now selling their products, broadening the couple’s horizons and pushing them to their latest goal: the United States market.
Source: Milenio (sp)