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
by Tiffany Liu
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
she knows. Even I don't understand completely, but I know there is no cure so far. People are still living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS. I couldn’t hold my tears while I heard that ill children die everyday. This event is to raise money to do research and help affected people. After we heard that, my brother and I decided to donate our own money earned from contest prizes and doing chores. My brother and I donated $100 dollars.
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
by Kathleen Davin
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
by Doreen Tsu
"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!"
-- Jack London
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…
Annual Student Bicycle Essay Contest
The Economic Benefits of Bicycling"
by Dan Horning
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. Visited 4 April 2007.
No author. "Ride for Transportation." League of American Bicyclists. Updated 2007. 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://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdot/MDOT_CommAndEconBenefitsOfBicyclingInMI_465392_7.pdf Visited 5 April 2007.
Annual Student Bicycle Essay Contest
We are pleased to present the winning essays from the 2011 International Bicycle Fund Student Essay contest. This year's entry strongly reflected the issues of the times; safety, climate change, benefits of bicycling and the economy of bicycling. It was difficult to pick the best. In fact we settled for two winners in one category. We send our praise to everyone who entered and shared their ideas with us. The winners are: "Mountain Biking History" by Eric Tran, age 12, East Prairie School, Skokie, Il ; "Changing Lives with Bikes" by Alexandra Kung, age 13, Seven Bridges Middle School, Chappaqua, NY; and, "Bicycle: A Machine To Treasure, A Machine To Promote!" by Namayanja Joelia, age 14, Rugaga School, Kampala, Uganda.
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” essay is also posted so you can appreciate another interesting writer.
Mountain Biking History
By Eric Tran, age 12,
While many sports and activities use bikes, the development of mountain bikes brought biking to a whole new level. Before bikes were used for leisure riding, traveling, and light exercise. As technology advanced, racers wanted stronger and lighter bikes that could change gears for off-road biking and racing. They wanted bikes that could handle harder environments. The mountain bike has changed how other biking sports are played.
Companies that make bikes changed the structure and traits of an average bike because clients wanted their bikes to meet their needs. Manufacturers gave the tires tighter grips to be able to handle slippery terrain. Instead of smooth tires, bikes were given bumpy tires, which have wide threads for traction. They also made the bikes lightweight and sturdy by making the frames out of aluminum and titanium. These materials were used because cyclists must be able to carry their bikes in places where they cannot ride. Manufacturers gave bikes adjustable gears so that they can go faster. The changeable gears also help the riders go up and down hills.
After the bikes were manufactured, mountain bike racing began in the 1980’s in California. In 1983, mountain bicyclists formed the National Off-Road Bicycle Association (NORBA). They also developed rules for mountain biking races and planned the first official races. Mountain biking became really popular in the 1980’s
When racers compete, they are divided into four classes. Racers are divided by their age and ability. Inexperienced racers compete in the beginner class. When beginners gain more experience, they advance to two semi-professional classes. After the semi-professional classes, racers would move to the pro or elite class.
The cross-country, dual slalom, hill climb, downhill and endurance races are different mountain biking races. Cross-country are on dirt roads that have obstacles such as mud holes and bumps. In dual slalom races, two cyclists race against each other on a down hill course. Hill climbs are slower races than the others. Cyclists either race in groups or one at a time to climb a hill. Downhill races are similar to hill climbs but are faster and start at the top. Endurance races are the longest. The races can be as long as several hundred miles.
As mountain bikes have been modified, the sport itself evolved. Mountain bikes were changed by adjustable gears, better tire traction, and aluminum or titanium frames.
Today, there are thousands of mountain biking races each year that include different racing classes and types of racers. Instead of bikes being used for leisure riding and traveling back then, they are used for competitive racing.
Changing Lives with Bikes
by Alexandra Kung, age 13
When I was very young, I remember trying to keep up with my older brother, me on my tricycle and him on his two-wheeler. When I became older, we would spend the whole summer biking everyday on the North County Trailways, me now on his hand-me down two-wheeler and him on his gear bike. I have such happy memories biking with my brother.
Biking is the rite of passage for all children. In some ways, it is the freedom to explore more of the world outside the confines of parental supervision. Biking to me means “freedom.” I experience total exhilaration as I fly down a hill, hair flying behind me underneath my helmet. It is ironic that half way around the world, in Africa, a bicycle could also mean “freedom.”
I became aware of the World Bicycle Relief from a New York Times editorial written by Nicholas Kristof. He wrote about an orphan named Abel whose only wish was a bicycle to enable him to reduce commute time to school – he spent six hours walking to and from school each day. His wish came true through this organization. World Bicycle Relief donated bikes to Abel and other children in his village. These were not your ordinary bikes but specially engineered 55 pound, one-speed bikes that could specifically handle the rough terrain. They also kept the bike design simple so that if the bike was in need of repair, it could be easily fixed.
The bicycles were not only given to boys, but to girls as well. This is very important. Prior to receiving their bikes, girls who were interested in furthering their education did not walk the long distance every day, but instead lived in boarding houses near their schools. However sadly, these girls were often being attacked or raped when they were in town so many parents ended up keeping their daughters home. If a girl wanted to have a high school education they had to endure sexual abuse. So these bikes have been instrumental for girls to receive an education.
To this date, the World Bicycle Relief has distributed over 75,000 bicycles in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Tanzania, helping more than a quarter of a million people. Each bike is shared among 10 individuals. This makes the reach and impact in terms of dollars donated enormous. While it is admirable that there are many organizations in existence that build schools for African children, let us not lose sight that the children need a way to actually attend these school. In addition, the bike also increases productivity. When the children return home from school, the adults use the bikes as a mode of transportation to carry things to the market. Prior to having bikes, everyone needed to be enlisted to help with this chore. Through the World Bicycle Relief, these children are now able to receive an education and focus on school work.
Now that World Bicycle Relief has been brought to my consciousness, I knew I had to do something. Since May is children’s mission month at my church, I convinced the Pastor to approval a fundraiser to benefit World Bicycle Relief. Next month, we will have our 1st annual “Bicycle Sunday” Fundraiser. The congregation will have opportunities to contribute at different levels. “Spokes” will be sold for $10 each. For $70 dollars they can purchase “a wheel.” For $135 they can acquire “a bike.” Even though we have a small congregation, I am confident that we will raise enough money to buy at least 6 bikes for the children in Africa. Additionally, I have already pledged to donate “a bike” to World Bicycle Relief from money that I have saved up. On “Bicycle Sunday”, the Sunday School children will also participate in activities that will highlight the advantages of biking over walking. I am so joyful that my love for biking will allow others a taste of freedom.
Bicycle: A Machine To Treasure, A Machine To Promote!
by Namayanja Joelia, age 14
I am a young girl born in a rural village. I grew up seeing my dad riding a bike as his means of transport.
I asked him one day, “Dad every time I see you on a journey you are riding, are you not tired of riding?”
“My daughter,” replied my dad, “this bike you see is my everything. I have paid your school fees because of this bike, I have built this house you sleep in because of this bike, I have married your mother, because of this bike. In fact, I educated all your elder brothers and sisters because of this bike. My daughter, I have been using this bike to take good to the market; you have been seeing me carry sugar canes, banana, papaws, and many other agricultural goods to the market and from all those I have been able to feed you , provide medication and everything good for you.”
My dad said all that while I was listening. In fact all he said was not new because I was seeing him now and again going to the market to sell different product using his old bike. I went on to ask him, “Dad, what do you think about the motor bikes or cars?
“My daughter,” said my dad, “all auto mobiles have their disadvantages and advantages but the former out weigh the latter. With my bicycle, I do not need to buy fuel; it is very cost effective for a poor man like me your father. Motor cycles and cars are good polluters. Do you see how our environment has changed nowadays? It is because of the auto mobiles. So I do not want to add to the destruction of this environment. I want you to remain safe.”
My dad is an old man, but when he discusses things, he says sensible things.
From those stories, my dad narrated a story of Mr. Kalema our neighbor who has very nice plantations, cows and many other nice things. He said that that gentleman managed to get all that wealth because of his bike. I was not aware that the bike can do great things.
When I went around, I visited a friend whose father is a bicycle mechanic. My friend’s father has a newly constructed 6 roomed house made of brick, iron sheets, and cement. As we chatted, my friend told me his father had got the money to put up such a nice structure from the bikes!!!! This was unbelievable. During my holidays, I have been on the road; I have seen many young men carrying pineapples on their bikes. Some say they have riches they never thought of before that they were able to get using their bicycles. I have so many friends at school whose transport is the bikes.
For sure bikes are great. My dad will have to get me one. Bikes are good. They save our environment. Bikes are good, they are cost effective. Every one can manage to maintain a bike. People’s life has changed because of bikes. We need to sing the greatness of a bike. We need to promote bikes.
I will get one instead of an auto mobile. Bikes are great means of transport. Let us cherish it.
The Wheel on the Bike Keeps on Turning
By Trey Gomez, age 12,
Honk! Honk! Beep! Beep! Bicycles can be used for many different good Samaritan activities like saving the environment, getting good exercise, feeling happy. If everybody in the world rode bicycle instead of driving cars then the environment could be saved. That would be awesome! Bikes can get people to exercise. The whole world could be fit if everyone rode bicycles. The last thing that would happen is that you would feel happier because of all the endorphins. Cool! These are things biking can do for the world.
Smog from cars can kill the earth. Bicycles, unlike cars, don not need gasoline and they do not leave a trail of smog. If everyone on earth rode bicycles then we can save the environment, save the North Pole and we will never have an oil spill again. Saving the environment will be no easy feat, the North Pole is melting, it is getting warmer every year, but if we use fewer green houses gases then the atmosphere will heal and we can save each other. That would be awesome! The North Pole is in crisis. Ice melting everywhere, animals dying and worse if the North Pole melted then the water would flood everywhere. That would be terrible. If we rode bicycles instead of driving cars then we would never have an oil spill again. Oil spills are terrible: they can wipe out a whole ecosystem. But oil spills only happen because cars are the primary use of oil so if there were not any cars then there will not be any oil spills. Radical! This is how if everyone in the world used bikes instead of cars then everyone would be fit.
Weight lifting, running laps, playing sports, like those examples, bicycling is an amazing way to stay fit. If everyone rode bicycles to stay fit then obesity would be at a low, people would have more energy, and it will lower the chance of disease. Biking is great for losing weight, not only does it work out your legs but it would keep you healthy and tones your body. Exercise Rocks! Another thing biking is good for is getting more energy and if you build energy then you are never tired. Cool! When you bike you can lose weight and when you lose weight you have less of a chance of getting diseases. Coolio! This could happen if everyone in the world rode bikes. If everyone exercises then everyone would be happy.
Smiles, laughter, if everyone exercised then everyone would be happy. When you exercise you get endorphins and endorphins make you happy. If everybody in the world was happy because they exercised on bicycles then they would be happy and if the world was happy then, I believe violence would go down, people would work for their dreams and bullies would be a thing of the past. Violence happens when two angry people attack each other. If everyone in the world was happy by getting endorphins then violence would never happen again. That would be great, no violence, no murder, no gangs, life would be great. Dreams can come true. If everyone in the world rode bicycles and got exercise then got endorphins from the exercise then people would not have as many doubts about themselves so they would believe they could do anything. PUNCH! KICK! If endorphins make people happy then bullies will not have to express their feelings by attacking people emotionally and physically. That would be great. This could happen if people rode bicycles, rode bicycles to exercise and get endorphins.
Ring! Ring! Bring! Bring! Bicycles can save the environment, get you exercise and make you happy. Riding bikes could save the environment; they do not need gas to keep them going. Awesome! Bikes get humans good exercise. Exercise rocks! The exercise you get from biking makes you happy because of endorphins. Happiness is just a pedal a way.
Annual Student Bicycle Essay Contest