When his wife’s health started to decline, Bill Forward figured out a way for the couple to continue to enjoy one of their favorite pastimes together— cycling. He designed “The Bike Chair,” a special tandem bike for those with limited mobility to enjoy with their caretakers or loved ones.
Bill and Glad Forward have been married for over 50 years, and Bill still says he would do anything for his wife.
When Glad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2004, her health began to rapidly deteriorate. Before long she began to have difficulty walking on her own. Bill saw that he needed to accommodate these changes, but he wanted to continue enjoying the outdoor activities he and Glad had always shared a love for.
Bill came up with the idea for his ingenious bike chair by replacing the ‘wheel’ in ‘wheelchair’ with ‘bike.’ He drafted the design and brought it to his friend, Ken McKenzie, to build.
McKenzie welded a specifically-designed chair to the front half of a cruiser bike to make a backwards tricycle of sorts, so a mobility-challenged person can ride up front, while another person pedals in back.
“When we first started dating, I used to ride my bike from where I lived to where she was, and that was about 5 kilometers, on a Saturday afternoon, ‘cause that was the only chance we had to get together,” Bill recalled in a video by CVCNow.
“I used to ride everywhere on my bike, and Glad had a bike as well, and we put a baby chair on the front of her bike and so we carried our babies around on the bike… Bikes have been part of our lives,” he said.
Bill is honored to be able to provide a means for the couple to keep cycling. He said he is grateful for all the ways Glad has cared for him over the years, and for the beautiful love story they’ve been lucky to share.
“I am determined to care for her every need,” he said.
“I don’t count it a burden whatsoever to care for her. I need to do everything, from the moment she gets up to the moment she goes to bed, I do absolutely everything. I clean her teether, shower, dress, everything— but it’s a privilege. I count it a great privilege to care for this woman I’ve loved all of these years and continue to love.”
Since building the prototype, ‘The Bike Chair’ has gained over 27,000 followers on Facebook, and physiotherapists have overseen a limited run of bike chairs manufactured in Australia. Bill is currently working to bring the product to market in North America.