Annual Student Bike Essay Contest
2006 Student Bicycle Essay Contest Winners
Below are the winning essays from the 2006 International Bicycle Fund Student Essay contest. The winners are: "Fun Summer Biking", by Alexandra Kung, age 8, Westorchard Elementary, Chappaqua, NY; "The Role of Bicycles in Society", by Wisdom Amaki, age 12, Aveyime Roman Catholic Primary School, Aveyime-Battor, Ghana; and, "The Health Benefits of Bicycling", by Josephine Ho, age 14, South High School, Torrence, CA. Each writer receives a cash prize and certificate. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all the students that submitted essays.
Fun Summer Biking
I spend my summer’s bike riding on the North County Trailways. The bike trail used to be the Putnam Railroad. It had 23 stops in Westchester Country. Now it is a paved bicycle and pedestrian path that goes from the Bronx to Putnam County. They paved it over so people could enjoy bicycling without a lot of car traffic. It goes on for 22 miles. We don’t do the whole trail because it would be too long and be tiring for your legs!
We live close enough to bike to the trail. My mom, brother and I go every day except when it’s raining. One time we got caught in the rain while on the way home! We bicycle about 5 miles a day. We bicycle the same time everyday so we see the same people on the trail. Besides bicyclists on the trail, I see people run, jog or walk on the trail too. People are very friendly on the trail. They smile and wave to us as we pass them. It’s sad that we barely see any kids on the trail. Bicycling is very fun and a great way to exercise.
My bike riding improves every year. This summer will be our 3rd year biking on the trail. The first year I was not on a gear bike. I didn’t go really fast. It was hard to bicycle up tall hills. I kept on having to get off my bike and walk it up the hill. My legs would get really tired. I couldn’t catch up to my big brother.
Last year I finally got a gear bike! Going up hills was much easier. I could use 6 gears. On the 6th gear I went really fast and I could catch up a little more with my older brother.
Each year we would ride further. Last year I went on a wooden bridge. It was bumpy and a little scary on the bridge. The bridge is over a reservoir. The first time I went on the bridge I didn’t go far past it. When I tried it again over the next few days I rode further. I got used to it and it was fun.
On the way back it’s always quicker because the trail is going downward. We always pass a tall tree with a huge thick trunk that leads to a path where my mom used to work. My mom would always say she could have bicycle rode to work.
Coming back from the trail to our house is hard. There are a lot of hills. When we’re almost home there is a steep hill to go up and then we have to go up our driveway. I can barely go up the steep hill. After that I get exhausted.
Bicycling is one of my favorite summer activities. I’m glad we do it every year. I look forward to school ending and getting back on the bike trail!
The Role of Bicycles in Society
Bicycles in an African society like ours are a major source of transport for a lot of people especially the poor. Because of the high level of poverty in our society, a lot of people cannot afford to buy a car let alone pay their transport fares to transport them to wherever they want to go at anytime. Due to this, people in my area resort to the use of bicycles which are quite affordable and can easily get them to wherever they want to go anytime.
Secondly, in the Northern part of my country, especially, there is less access to good roads to enable cars to carry farm produce to the market for them. This has led to the loss of income to the farmers since most of their produce is left to rot. But, with the help of bicycles, people can now freely take their produce to the market to sell and get money leading to the improvement in living. It is always a lovely sight to see a lot of people including women and children carrying their goods on their bicycles on Tuesdays and Fridays, which are market days.
Also, in my society, there are a lot of over-aged and rickety vehicles which emit a lot of bad gases into the atmosphere which leads to a lot of diseases. But, with the encouragement and the use of bicycles by a lot of people, rather than the cars which will rather emit bad gases into the atmosphere to give us diseases. In short, the use of bicycles helps to reduce the emission of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere by the use of rickety and old vehicles.
Furthermore, in my area, bicycles serve as a source of entertainment. People use it to display acrobatics and also for sport, that is racing, from which people get money as well.
Last but not least, it is such a lovely sight to see people riding bicycles early in the morning as a way of exercising themselves to be healthy all the time. I asked one of them why they ride early in the morning and she answered me, “my heart becomes stronger whenever I ride the bicycle.” Healthwise, bicycles are a good source of improving our health and also expanding our lifespan.
To conclude, to have access to a bicycle in African society, like ours, may be likened to having a luxury because of the role it plays in the society. It will be my wish that through this competition I will be able to have my own bicycle and to see everyone riding happily in my society.
The Health Benefits of Bicycling
by Josephine Ho
Remember the feeling of first learning to ride a bicycle on your own, without training wheels and without an experienced person’s balancing hand? That sudden rush of freedom is priceless. Today, even though most people already know how to ride a bicycle, not everybody understands that not only is bicycling fun, but it is also an excellent way to get healthy exercise. That is one of the reasons why sixty million Americans bicycle regularly. Whether you are an enthusiastic mountain biker or simply bicycling to and from school, you can reap the many health benefits of bicycling.
Unfortunately, an alarming number of Americans are becoming more sedentary and obese. In recent studies, experts have noticed that the American lifestyle of convenience and inactivity have replaced cycling and walking by technology and automobile travel for all but the shortest distances. Because of this, people these days are more vulnerable to the risks of heart disease, stroke, and other life-threatening illnesses. Fortunately, small increases in moderate activity will produce measurable benefits for those who are not active. Cycling to the store, to a friend’s house, or around the block every day can make a huge difference. While you are enhancing your physical health, you can improve your self-esteem and your mental and physical appearance.
Numerous adults believe they are too old to cycle and think cycling is reserved only for young kids. However, by visiting any country outside the United States, one can see that bicycling is for anyone of all ages. For example, in the country of Taiwan, just about everybody in its cities bicycle. An adult bicycling to work is very common, especially in the countryside. An elderly man bicycling to the park is part of everyday life. Some studies even show that adults are in more need to bicycle than children are. Regular exercise provides a web of health benefits for senior adults including stronger heart and lungs, and a positive mental outlook, which are all benefits that will become increasingly important as the years go by.
What are the benefits, exactly, of bicycling? Everyday cycling promotes good health and reduces the risk of serious conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and the most common form of diabetes. Cycling can be part of a program to lose weight because it burns the energy supplied by a chocolate bar or a couple of alcoholic drinks in an hour. A 15-minute bike ride to and from work five times a week burns off the equivalent of 11 pounds of fat in a year. That kind of cycling pattern also meets the Government's latest target on exercise: that we should take part in some mild to moderate physical activity that leaves us out of breath for at least 30 minutes five times a week. Cycling can have positive effects on how someone feels too. Moderate exercise has been found to reduce levels of depression and stress, improve mood and raise self-esteem, and has also been found to relieve symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
Getting on a bike regularly not only gets someone where he wants to go faster than a car, it protects that person against a wide range of ill health and also makes him feel better. Today, because of new advances in technology, more and more citizens of America are constantly battling the risk factors for heart diseases and obesity by sweating at the gym or going on a diet. However, the answer to protecting one’s health is not far away, nor is it difficult to find. The sensation of knowing that bicycling regularly can protect one’s health is wonderful and comforting. In fact, the feeling is just like learning to ride a bicycle all over again.
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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