In a year when York became the centre of the cycling universe, two city entrepreneurs have wheeled away with three prizes for their trailblazing tandem.
Paul Stanton and Belinda Noda won the £5,000 top prize in the Sheffield Hallam University Enterprise Challenge for their Daisy Bell bicycle.
The bike, designed so an able-bodied person and a disabled person can ride along together side by side, also took the award for the best manufacturable product and a popular vote secured them the audience award worth another £2,000.
The married couple from Fulford now plan to put the bike into production.
Paul and Belinda, a wheelchair user, had tried other tandems aimed at couples like them. “Paul and I tried out one design where I was transported, wheelbarrow-style, on the front of his normal bicycle, Belinda said.
“I felt vulnerable and isolated – we just couldn’t communicate and the experience wasn’t shared.”
Then they found a second-hand bike called The Discoverer, a side-by-side invented in Birmingham by Roger Taft 20 years ago.
That inspired them to create the Daisy Bell. By using a unique linking system Belinda’s wheelchair can be attached and detached as necessary – which means the bike can be easily secured in a cycle rack or on a train.
The pair, who arrived at their 2011 wedding on the bike, have since cycled from Arbroath to Dundee, traversed long stretches of the Trans Pennine Trail and enjoyed a two-week cycling holiday in The Netherlands with Belinda’s three daughters.
With the help of design and engineering specialists they hope soon to have a patented prototype. The Daisy Bell, which would cost from £3,400, would be manufactured to order.
Belinda was paralysed from the chest down at the age of 27 when the driver of the van she was travelling across the USA in fell asleep at the wheel. But she has never let that limit her horizons, saying “It’s your approach to life that defines you, not your physical body.”
The Daisy Bell has granted them the freedom to cycle and they want others to enjoy it too.
They won their three Enterprise Challenge prizes at a dinner on Thursday, October 2. The competition is open to current students and graduates of Sheffield Hallam University from the last five years.
Belinda gained her second degree – in conservation management – at Sheffield Hallam in 2010.
Her response to winning the awards? “Utterly flabbergasted!” she wrote on Twitter. “Fantastic evening, beautiful people – a humbling experience.”
Like York, Sheffield took part in Le Grand Départ of the Tour de France this summer. “It is great to see a cycle-inspired entry in this year’s Enterprise Challenge following our memorable involvement in Le Grand Depart,” said Sheila Quairney, head of enterprise at the university’s research and innovation office.
“Belinda and Paul have created an innovative and sustainable concept which is already attracting business interest.”