Annual Student Bike Essay Contest
2007 Student Bicycle Essay Contest Winners
Below are the winning essays from the 2007 International Bicycle Fund Student Essay contest. The winners are: "Bike Riding Is Not Just For Fun", by Tiffany Liu, age 7, Jensen Ranch Elementary, Castro Valley, CA; "Benefits of Biking", by Kathleen Davin, age 13*, Elwood Middle School, Elwood, NY; and, "Biking: My Life, My Love", by Doreen Tsu, age 15, Baylor School, Chattanooga, TN. Each writer receives a cash prize and certificate. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all the students who submitted essays. An “honorable mention” essays are also posted.
* We didn't receive any entries in the age 9-12 categories, but had several worthy entries from 13 year olds so decided to award the prize from among these.
Bike Riding Is Not
Just For Fun
I have a lot of fun riding on a bicycle. I started to ride my brother's old tricycle when I was two years old. I stayed with that tricycle until I was four. Then I learned to ride a bicycle. My parents bought a girl bicycle for me to ride. I kept falling at first, but I kept practicing until I could ride my bicycle well with two assistant wheels.
My brother and I started playing bicycle games at our backyard after school each day. We played our own invented games such as green light and red light.
My dad often takes us to parks nearby for us to ride on bike trails. At summer time, we used to go to Vista Water Park. We rode our bicycles under the waterfalls, around the water fountains and squirted our water guns at each other. We really enjoyed bicycle riding.
One day Ms. Persephone, my brother's tutor, gave us an envelope with a donation form inside. She is going to join more than 2000 cyclists in a 545 mile journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the AIDS/LIFE CYCLE 6 ride. She will ride an average of 80 miles a day down the California coast, camping in ten cities along the way from June 3 to June 9, 2007.
In order to participate on this trek, she
needs to raise a minimum of $2500 to help benefit people with HIV/AIDS disease.
I asked Ms. Persephone "what is AIDS?", "How do people get AIDS?" and "Is there
any cure for AIDS patients?". She explained as much as
Bicycle riding is not just for fun, it could help other people who need help. I plan to work hard on bicycle riding and get rid of assistant wheel as soon as possible. I hope someday, I could take part in those meaningful bike treks.
Benefits of Biking
Bicycles, once being one of the main means of transportation in our society, have now become almost insignificant to people today. I remember being on vacation in Seattle, Washington and taking a trip to a street fair dedicated to bicycles called "Tour de Fat". At this fair I came across a poster for sale. The poster displayed a picture of a regular roadway, but instead of having a small lane on the side specifically for bicycles, there was the largest lane for bicycles and a small lane for cars.
I believe that with great effort and dedicated citizens our country could become a country where cars would be the minority. Just take a moment to think about it. Every day billions of people drive their cars without thinking of the impact they have on our society. Bicycles are hardly even an option in most American's minds today. It's either too dangerous, too far, or they're just too lazy. If bicycles, were the way that everyone traveled, there would be no excuses for taking a less active way of transportation. Everything would become bicycle friendly because hardly any cars would be present to take away the route of the biker's. The entire country would be fit, and constantly active.
All of the problems that we regularly face today would become a thing of the past. Television commercials of the newest model taking the most recent diet pill would look like nothing compared to he hard-core bicyclist that really takes care of herself the right way. The model's face may be airbrushed on perfectly, but it is nothing compared to the healthy muscles of the bicyclist.
Another reason to promote bicycling would be the great decrease in pollution. Every day automobiles create congestion, noise and smog. Bicycles on the other hand, are convenient, quiet, and non-polluting vehicles. Although possibly not as quick and efficient as cars, they get you to your destination while also being an enjoyable activity.
Compared to cars, bicycles are also considerably less expensive to operate. The don't require gasoline which in recent days has greatly increased in price. Because they are simpler vehicles, they don't require as much extensive maintenance, time and care. Every day dozens of car dealerships come out with the newest version of a hybrid, but why not buy a bicycle instead.
In other countries where the population is much smaller, bicycles are a great way to get places. Many businesses use bicycle with paperboys, messengers, food delivery people, and they are even used to tow passengers from place to place in major cities. Even if every person in this country just took ten minutes more out of their regular commute to bike to work, the impact would be unbelievably great, not to mention healthful, cheaper, and better for the environment. Just think -- if everyone did something small, the entire country could be completely turned around with all the benefits of biking included.
Biking: My Life, My Love
"Ever bike? Now that's something that makes life worth living!
I take exercise every afternoon that way. Oh, to just grip your handlebars and
lay down to it, and go ripping and tearing through streets and road, over
railroad tracks and bridges, threading crowds, avoiding collisions, at twenty
miles or more an hour, and wondering all the time when you're going to smash up.
Well now, that's something! And then go home again after three hours of it, into
the tub, rub down well, then into a soft shirt and down to the dinner table,
with the evening paper and a glass of wine in prospect - and then to think that
tomorrow I can do it all over again!"
For the entire course of my life, I have been infatuated, obsessed, overly and somewhat unhealthily gripped with my one true love—my bicycle. I mean, seriously, who could possibly resist the appeal and charm of the dazzling flamboyance of the shiny metal wheels, mesmerizing in its ability to wow? The shiny paint flashes flauntingly out to bystanders, and the handy little bell is simply irresistible! However, my connection with this very important aspect of my life does not just come down to its superficial appearance, but a more deeply emotionally poignant side as well. The story weaves its web as a youngster. Flash back ten years into the recesses of my memory to the petite and chubby me. Though not many memories can withstand the trial of time, one vision that has absolutely defied this law is the first time I received my tricycle. I distinctly remember my beloved mother wrangling groceries, and—lo and behold—something of a peculiar shape that I had vaguely seen before! Eagerly I wobbled down the distance to greet her. Her gentle eyes smiled playfully as she explained, or at least tried to teach me how this mysterious looking device worked. Although I was initially hesitant to tackle this machine, I bravely accepted the challenge and in my naïve four-year-old self, I hopped on. Nothing. Disappointment tears rolled down my cheeks. Why could my brother easily glide through land with this vehicle and not I? Nevertheless, through time, I came to acquire the knowledge and secrets of riding a bike. I learned that it takes the movement of legs to propel the bike forward—thus the reason why I grow up with riding a bike. It would still take many times of trials and errors and crashes before I could master the art of bicycling. I really don’t know—perhaps it was the excitement of whizzing by neighboring kids, their faces stunned with amazement, or maybe it was the wind blowing against my face that gave my absolute exhilaration, but biking became a vital component of my life that I could never possibly go for days without. Even when I became saturated with homework or sick with a high fever, biking was always one of my top priorities, and not biking for a couple hours would find me in the depths of despair and misery. However, my own little world of bicycles took another deeply emotional aspect on the day that my carefree and simple world came crashing down. That day was the hauntingly humid Floridian day that I shall never forget—the day of my birthday. That was the day I found out that my mother had sustained several permanently debilitating herniated discs that would cripple her for life… that was also the day that my father lost his breadwinning job. That was the day that my life nosedived and crashed. Before this, I was a normal teen—I liked to hang out with friends, gossip, and focus on school. After this rather traumatic occurrence, I had been transformed into a girl that I would’ve never recognized today. In hindsight, I realize that my depressive approach and philosophy on life wasn’t healthy, but my gloomy mood and sudden unresponsiveness to society made me virtually friendless. However, I knew that through this time of struggle I had one true friend that I could always rely on: my Pacific Shorewood Cruise bike. During these times, riding my bicycle became a daily staple. It was a sort of emotional release—a way to enjoy the nonchalant feelings that I previously had, a numbing way to forget about reality, a way to feel bliss and not pain. My bike was my lifesaver, and that’s a fact that I will never forget and be eternally grateful for. Thankfully, things started looking up after that; one responsive and caring teacher took the time to recognize my mental state and coaxed me into the normal girl that I am now. My dad finally found another great job, and my mother is doing remarkably well, I’m happy to report. Nonetheless, there are scars of my previous mode remain… a scar that will never be able to be erased. Nowadays, I’m thriving in my school, participating fully in school, sports, clubs, and social activities. Despite this, I am never able to forget the tool that I sought comfort in the most: my bike. As a healing process, I want to be able to help others who have gone through the same situation I have. Since then, I remained a biker, albeit a more intense version of it. However, I could never find the outlet locally to share my passion with others. It came naturally and as no surprise to me when I decided to form my own bike club. My goals were too increase the visibility of biking within my small Indiana town to more people who might ultimately find their true love. I want to be able to make a difference to others through my efforts in outreach using biking as the means as others have previously done. Additionally, beginners and experts are invited equally to join a forum and community of bikers to have organized biking trips as well as networking for friends. Today the biking club thrives, and I get the greatest pleasure by introducing people who would’ve otherwise never had the opportunity to get exposed to the wonderful world of biking. Undoubtedly, I credit my current state of rejuvenation to biking because of the immense physical and mental support it has lent me. May biking continue in its glory…
The Economic Benefits of Bicycling"
Ever since its conception, millions of people have utilized the bicycle for many practical and recreational purposes. They have grown into a world-wide industry, and learning how to ride a bicycle has become somewhat of a right of passage in parts of the United States. On top of this, bicycles have had a tremendous impact on the global economy. The bicycle is one of the most economically beneficial modes of transportation; they require little maintenance, are non-detrimental to the environment, generate millions of dollars in tourism, they improve the health of the rider, and they are less expensive than other modes of transportation.
With the average price of a gallon of gasoline at $2.70, it is very expensive to drive to work, school, or to take a trip. Just taking a trip across town can now rob a person blind. However, the bicycle does not use gasoline. Rather than being subject to gasoline price fluctuations, a bicycle is powered simply by the person riding it, and it only takes one good full meal to power that engine.
The average person is recommended to intake about 2000 calories daily. A person traveling on a bicycle uses about .049 calories per pound of the rider per minute. An automobile, on the other hand, uses about 4 liters of fuel, or the equivalent of 31,000 calories. If a person could ingest 4 liters of fuel, that person would be able to ride for about 912 miles on those 4 liters of fuel. Currently, 238 million gallons of gasoline are saved by those who cycle instead of using automobiles.
Bicycles save people thousands of dollars per year. There are no insurance fees to pay, no parking meter fees, and of course, no gasoline. Maintenance costs are minuscule compared to those for automobiles. Automobiles often require new carburetors, engines, tires, and other odds and ends that add up to thousands of dollars per year. A bicycle may only need a new tire and chain, costing less than a few hundred dollars. Equipment such as a new seat, a helmet and gloves will only add up to about $100.
By not using gasoline, bicycles do not harm the environment. They do not release carbon dioxide into the air, and they do not reduce air quality for those around them. They do not create large amounts of noise like airplanes do, and they do not need a 5 lane highway to get from point A to point B. Eminent Domain would not be a problem for building a path for cyclists to travel on. Bicycles do not ruin the terrain as much as automobiles do; therefore, road maintenance costs would decrease if more citizens began to use bicycles over cars.
Bicycles have created their own new branch of tourism. More and more people are taking to bicycles to see the wonders of Africa, the mountains of Europe, or the heartland of America. Entrepreneurs are now beginning to cater to cyclists, thus generating local economies. Bicycling vacations can be inexpensive, and more scenery can be seen compared to a regular vacation to a city. Instead of having to pay for costly coach buses or subways, a bicycle can take a person from point A to point B without these fees. Also, approximately 6 to 20 bicycles can be placed in one parking space, saving on parking and storage costs.
On top of that, bicycles are also excellent ways to improve personal health. As millions of people face issues concerning their weight and the risk of obesity, cycling provides an effective yet inexpensive to burn excess fat. Since cycling at about 15 mph requires about .049 calories per pound per minute, it is possible to burn off about 515 calories in about one hour. As more people take to cycling and improve their lives, health costs will decrease, therefore lowering insurance premiums and reducing the need for expensive medications.
The bicycle has had a profound impact upon the global economy. Yet it has also changed the economic status of the individual person. It saves thousands of dollars per year on fuel and maintenance costs, it has generated a new branch of tourism that can save and generate money, they reduce the erosion of the environment, and they help to lower health care costs by improving the health of the rider. In an era where people are worried about how they will pay their bills, utilizing the bicycle is one small yet simple way to save money and improve the quality of life for not only the rider but for those around the rider.
Mozer, David. "Less-Developed Countries & Bicycle Tourism." International Bicycle Fund. Updated 2007. Available at: http://www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/eco-tourism.htm Visited 4 April 2007.
No author. "Is there a way to compare a human being to an engine in terms of efficiency?" How Stuff Works. Updated 2007. Available at: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/question527.htm Visited 4 April 2007.
No author. "Ride for Economy." League of American Bicyclists. Updated 2007. Available at: http://www.bikeleague.org/resources/why/economics.php Visited 4 April 2007.
No author. "Ride for Transportation." League of American Bicyclists. Updated 2007. Available at: http://www.bikeleague.org/resources/why/transportation.php Visited 5 April 2007.
No author. "Bicycle subsidies and unintended consequences." Environmental Economics. Updated 17 October 2005. Available at: http://www.env-econ.net/2005/10/bicycle_subsidi.html Visited 5 April 2007.
Ross, Arthur. "Bicycling Community Benefits." Updated 30 May 1997. Available at: http://users.ameritech.net/andyp/benefits.html Visited 5 April 2007.
The International Bicycle Fund is an independent, non-profit organization. Its primary purpose is to promote bicycle transportation. Most IBF projects and activities fall into one of four categories: planning and engineering, safety education, economic development assistance and promoting international understanding. IBF's objective is to create a sustainable, people-friendly environment by creating opportunities of the highest practicable quality for bicycle transportation. IBF is funded by private donation. Contributions are always welcome and are U.S. tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
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