MAN’S LOVING QUEST
Man on quest to help others with bike invention
BILL Forward first created the Bike Chair to help his wife, Glad, who had lost much of her mobility.
Not only did the bike bring them back together, it has also helped them create new, precious memories. Now he wants to help others do the same.
AFTER 54 years of marriage, Bill and Glad Forward still do everything together, and during the last 14 years, a clever invention has kept that sanctity alive.
In 2004, Mrs Forward was diagnosed with Alzeimier’s, a debilitating brain disease.
Mr Forward said before her diagnosis, he and his wife spent much of their time outdoors, but as her condition progressed, her loss of mobility threatened the couple’s daily ritual.
“We used to love to walk around Mooloolaba, the Spit and different places by the river at Cotton Tree, but she began to stumble and fall as she lost her mobility,” Mr Forward said.
“I thought this is too good, too nice to lose.”
After living in Asia for several years, Mr Forward said he drew inspiration from the inventions he had seen others create.
“I was sure I could arrange to get a bike chair made where she is sitting in front of me and I’m pedalling along behind,” he said.
“That way she could sit and point things out and we would be looking at the same thing.”
After experimenting with the design, Mr Forward took his plans to close friend Ken McKenzie who was able to make the idea a reality.
Mr Forward said the bike had enhanced both his and his wife’s lives by allowing them to keep doing the things they treasured.
“The alternative would be me pushing my wife around in a wheelchair,” he said.
“A wheelchair means we’re not nearly so free, we don’t have the pleasure of the wind in our hair and the sun on our face.”
But to get this product onto the market for the world to use has proved difficult for the devoted husband.
After Mr Forward and Mr Mackenzie began manufacturing the bike, the project was stalled by concerns about liability insurance.
“Our plans had to be certified by an engineer or we would no longer be covered if someone hurt themselves using our bike,” Mr Forward said.
“I reached out to about 30 different engineering groups and not one was interested in helping.
“A solicitor advised we stopped making them.”
After this, the pair outsourced their plans to a Sunshine Coast-based charity, hoping it would be able to progress the project to the next stage.
But now, three years later, there is still no momentum moving the project forward despite its international demand.
“I have thousands of emails from people all over the world asking me where they can get the bike,” Mr Forward said.
“The whole project has been held back by red tape.”
At 77 years of age, Mr Forward’s primary focus is now about looking after his wife, whose disease has continued to progress.
He has passed the management of the Bike Chair project on to his son-in-law, who is in talks with US-based companies that are interested in manufacturing it.
But Mr Forward is urging investors or engineers in the region to jump on board with a project that could help change lives locally, and around the world.
“I want it to be a service to the community, not a money maker,” he said.
“All I ask is that $50 from each sale goes into a trust account with my wife’s name, so those who are in need of the bike and can’t afford it can be subsidised.”
If the Bike Chair sparks your interest, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
KEEP SPINNING: Bill Forward wants his design to help others like it has helped him and his wife, Glad.