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Annual Student Bike Essay Contest





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2002 Student Bicycle Essay Contest Winners

Below are the winning essays from the 2002 International Bicycle Fund Student Essay contest.  The winners are: Bicycling As High School Politics by Stacey Skibinski, age 16, of The Woodlands HS, The Woodlands TX, There Should Be Bikes Everywhere by Kanesha Severe, age 11, Huey School, Philadelphia PA, and Bikeland by Jovana Pejcicova, age 10 of Rain School, Slovak Rep. Each writer wins a cash prize.  Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to all the students who submitted essays.

Bicycling As High School Politics
by Stacey Skibinski

[Note: FM 1488 is a “farm to market road”, hence "FM," near The Woodlands and Magnolia, TX, that is heavily used by bicyclists. FM 1488 is a two way, two lane road, with a shoulder on each side and no convenient alternative route.]

“I support cycling!” said the sticker pasted on half the people in the hall. In response to an editorial in our school newspaper, supporters of cycling were protesting The Caledonian’s opinion of bicycling. Surprisingly, cycling became a very controversial issue at The Woodlands High School (TWHS). One entire English class of mine was spent debating the issue. So what exactly is the issue? Answer: “WHERE should bicyclists cycle?”

If you have ever driven down FM 1488, you have experienced the agony of trying to avoid masses of cyclists. The maximum number of cyclists I have encountered is 25, but I don’t drive, and therefore cyclists really don’t bother me. However, it is a different story with my mother. She will start yelling and screaming at the innocent (or are they?) cyclists as she drives, as if they could hear her, and has often wanted to run them off the road. Her reasoning, along with other drivers in my community, is: The Woodlands is less than a mile from FM 1488. It has over 100 miles of bike trails, paths, and scenic routes that were purposely provided for cyclists, roller-bladers, etc. So why is it that bikers insist on using two-lane roads’ shoulders to cycle on? To get the inside scoop, I interviewed Pete Dorsey, a cyclist who uses FM 1488.

Pete’s comments on cycling enlightened me; they gave me a perspective on cycling that previously I had not considered. He told me that cycling on the shoulders was really the only way to cycle. Pete reminded me of the dangers of riding on bike trails, such as animals, blind spots, curves, intersections, other bikers, bladers, joggers/walkers, and baby carriages. He told me that cyclists bike up to 40 miles per hour, and that cannot be done on curvy trails. Since I am not a racer, and only cycle for exercise, travel, or pleasure, these remarks Pete made really made me think about cycling as a sport instead of as a hobby. Pete commented on TWHS cycling controversy as unfair and biased. There are not many cyclists at TWHS, and the few that are there cannot defend the sport against an entire student body. Cycling does not get a “fair rap” from TWHS students, because it is not a recognized sport at TWHS. Pete’s statement that people should try cycling before they criticize it alerts me to the hypocrisy of students. It also makes me wonder, am I hypocritical towards bikers? I have never tried cycling as a sport, yet I can get angry when I see the spandex-clothed bikers. They use the hand signals they are supposed to, utilize reflectors, keep up with the speed limit, and stay on the shoulders, so how are cyclists bothering me? After my interview with Pete, still in the mindset that there has got to be some alternative to highway shoulders, I wonder, “Maybe Pete is right. Maybe the government should make “bike lanes” for bicyclists, especially if they can build football stadiums, tracks, baseball fields, swimming pools, golf courses, lacrosse fields, basketball and tennis courts at almost every high school and junior high.” For now, I realize there is not much to be done about cycling location. Do I want bikers to continue cycling on the shoulders? Not necessarily, but not for the same reasons as before. Before, I didn’t want bikers on the shoulders because of the irritation of bypassing them. Now, bikers should not be on the shoulders in view of the dangers of sideswipes, head-on collisions, drivers who don’t pay attention, and mainly because biking is a sport too, just like football, track and baseball.

Still, there is the irritation of driving and narrowly missing a group of cyclists because they are biking too close to the road. But if that is what it takes for cyclists to have their justice in the sports’ world, then I will learn to live with it. Thank you, Pete, for opening my eyes to the injustice towards bicyclists, and thank you, International Bicycle Fund, for giving me the opportunity to learn what unfairness cyclists must endure, and that I can have a say in it.

There Should Be Bikes Everywhere
by Kanesha Severe

The reason why I am writing this essay is to let you know riding a bike is not a bad habit. Having a bike is a good thing because if you don’t have a car you can travel by bike.

There should be bikes because if you have to go somewhere you don’t have to walk. You can just ride your bike if you have one. For instance, if you were going somewhere far, you wouldn’t have to walk because you have a bike so you can just ride your bike there. It is a faster way to get there. There should be bikes because suppose if it was 90 degrees outside and you were hot and you have a bike it can cool you off when you are riding it. When you were going down a hill and you were hot and sweaty when you go down that hill the wind will blow hard and it will cool you off.

Suppose if your mom wanted you to go to a store and get something for her or somebody in your family. If you have a basket on your bike, there were not a lot of things to get, and your bike didn’t have a flat, you could ride your bike there. Suppose if somebody in your family was having a bad headache, the store was a mile away, and you had a bike, you could ride there instead of walking.

Riding a bike is better because if you were walking to the store and it was four miles away, it will take you at least one hour and 30 minutes or more to get there.

I think riding a bike is a good habit, because you can learn how to travel by bike you can learn how to travel – period.

If you don’t have a car, you can ride a bike to get places you want to go. Suppose if you wanted to go to the mall and it was ten miles away, and you don’t have a car but you had a bike, you could ride there on your bike instead. What if you had to go to school and you were late and your parents went to work already, and you didn’t have a car, and you were too late to catch the bus. If you had a bike, you could ride your bike to school instead.

Riding a bike is not dangerous. When you ride a bike, you don’t always have to ride in the street. You can ride your bike on the sidewalk if you are twelve years old or under. That’s why riding is not dangerous for young kids.

Kids make riding a bike dangerous for themselves by not wearing their helmets or their pads. If you are riding in the street, and a car was going by, and the car door opened, you would fall and hurt yourself. If you don’t have your pads or your helmet on, you could get hurt even worse than you would with your helmet or pads on. With your helmet and pads on you can prevent getting your head, your knees, or your elbow busted open.

If you agree with me that’s alright. I know riding a bike is not the safest but you can make it happen if you try!

by Jovana Pejcicova

Once upon a time there was a wonderful land called “Bikeland.” There wa a house in one other land and a pretty small girl living in it. Her name was Julie. She liked to cycle very much. Julie had two bicycles: one named Swip and the other named Stacy. One day Julie said, “Today I will ride Swip.” Her mummy allowed her to go only across Mitchell Street. “Yes, mum!” agreed Julie and she went to eat her breakfast. After finishing it she was watching fairy tales when she decided and said to herself, “It is better to finish my homework now than in the afternoon.” Julie was in the fourth grade now and she had many more books than before. And there was much more homework in those books. “Well, I have to do much,” said the poor child. Julie closed the door and started to write. “Finally!” said Julie after two hours and she was very happy about it.

It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and Julie hurried to eat lunch. Then she got dressed and finally took Swip. It was a magical bike. On the other hand, Stacy was an ordinary bike and it was very sad because it wished to be like Swip. Swip could fly and run very fast. Stacy was not as perfect as Swip. However, Stacy liked Swip very much. They were like a brother and a sister. Little Julie took Swip and went on it somewhere. Stacy and Swip liked to go with Julie, but sometimes they were really bored. Well, she could go only across Mitchell Street. It was not very exciting for them.

On the contrary, Julie was happy. She didn’t know Swip was a magical bike and could speak like a human being. The ordinary bike could talk but only in bicycle language. Swip could speak both languages. Swip could do everything. And both of the bicycles loved adventure.

One night, when Julie was sleeping, they left the house. They wanted to have a nice trip, but no troubles. They crossed the road, then the fields and the meadows and got into the nice forest. There they met a big crane. It was something “big” for them and they were very afraid of it. They quickly pedaled away.

This trip was long and exhausting. They saw the swamps and streams on the way and finally there was a sign with one big word “BIKELAND.” “Oh!” they screamed, “this is the famous wonderful land we heard about!” They entered this land and noticed instead of the real moon there was a beautiful, gold – like glowing ship, sailing on the sky. When it collided with the clouds, they dispersed into a million of pieces and fell down in many directions. Everything was like in a dream. Just close your eyes and imagine a lot of flowers in different colors on the beautiful green meadows and many other magical things. Everything was able to speak in a special language, but there weren’t any people. The policemen were the blue bikes and the confectioners were the pink bikes. The doctors were white bikes and the teachers were purple bikes.

Stacy and Swip were very glad to find this dream land. Firstly, they wanted to stay but then they remembered Julie. “No, we have to go,” they sighed. In a short time Stacy noticed another sign with a title “Starwall”. “Let’s go to see that!” screamed Stacy. “OK, but only a minute,” said Swip. They got close to the wall and Stacy read, “The Wall of Magic.” Suddenly, Stacy knew what to do. “I want to touch the wall, I want to be like you, Swip!” And she did. She touched the wall and said aloud her wish and everything happened. After that she was able to fly, run very fast and speak the human language. “Look, I am like you,” said Stacy happily to Swip. “Now, we can finally go home and make our Julie happy!” And when they got home they proudly said to her, “There are two magical bicycles here. And only for you, our friend…”

Annual Student Bicycle Essay Contest



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