Man on quest to help oth­ers with bike in­ven­tion

Maroochy Weekly - - FRONT PAGE - Words by An­nie Caughey

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



KEEP SPIN­NING: Bill For­ward wants his de­sign to help oth­ers like it has helped him and his wife, Glad.

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