To describe a habit you never forget, people often use the phrase “it’s like riding a bike.”
But what if riding a bike wasn’t so easy? What if a certain limitation—like, say, having fingers on only one hand—made it so riding a bicycle in any sort of rigorous way was actually a monumental task?
That’s the reality for a kid named Jimmy Wilson, who, despite loving BMX more than pretty much anything, has had trouble partaking in the sport himself, due to the absence of fingers on his left hand.
But riding a bike is not just a sport—it’s an essential part of being a kid. So, when Peter Binkley got word of Jimmy’s situation, he was determined to do something about it. Binkley is part of Enabling the Future, a global community of volunteers who share open-sourced prosthetic designs and make devices for people in need. And they do so for free. “We use technology,” Binkley says, “and it helps when it’s good technology.”
For Binkley, the cause is personal. Not only does Jimmy live in his hometown, but Binkley’s own son was also born without any fingers on his left hand. Several years ago, Binkley’s life was changed when his son forwarded him a video of a boy using a revolutionary 3-D printed prosthetic hand. That set off an entirely new world of possibilities in Binkley’s mind, and he’s been working on 3-D printed prosthetics ever since.
But while Binkley is clearly a mad smart dude, he’s no BMXer. So, in designing a hand for Jimmy to use, he needed help from someone who knows the sport well, and can speak to the specific demands a prosthesis would need to satisfy. That’s where Jeremiah Smith comes in. Smith, a pro BMX biker, was all too happy to provide the insight Binkley needs—and also recognizes the inherent irony in his own situation versus Jimmy’s. “It kind of blows my mind if I really think about it,” he says with a laugh. “I ride a little kid’s bike for a living.”
Soon, Binkley and Smith will get to work on creating Jimmy’s device, using their own respective expertise as well as cutting edge technology. “When you look at the fastest, most capable technology,” Binkley says, “Intel really has the advantage now.”
To see more on this completely unique collaboration, be sure to watch part one of “Bicycle Lessons” above.