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Annual Student Bike Essay Contest





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2008 Student Bicycle Essay Contest Winners

Below are the winning essays from the 2008 International Bicycle Fund Student Essay contest.  Overall, this year's entry strongly reflected the issues of the times; personal health, climate change and the price of gasoline.  We have a lot of strong essays and it was difficult to pick the best.  We send our praise to everyone who entered and shared their ideas with us. The winners are: "People Ride Bikes" by Evan Macri, age 7, Laurel Elementary, New Castle PA;  "Chappaqua: Future Town of Bikes" by Riya Verma, age 10, Seven Bridges Middle School, Chappaqua NY; and  "Specialized!", by Christina Norwich, age 16, Garfield High School, Seattle WA.  Each writer receives a cash prize and certificate.  Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all the students who submitted essays. A large number “honorable mention” essays are also posted so you can appreciate how many excellent writers are out there.

People Ride Bikes
Essay and illustration by Evan Macri

People ride bikes in America for fun and to stay healthy.  In some countries people use bicycles for same reasons we use cars in America.

I am a 7 year old American boy.  I enjoy riding my bike because it is good exercise.  The water splashes up when I go fast.  I like that, but a 7 year old boy in Africa does not get to splash his bike in the water like I do.  But he can ride his bike to get his family water and food.  I get to ride in a car to get food.  People in Africa do not have roads to drive cars like we do.  In many places people are too poor for cars or bicycles.  I want the children in Africa to enjoy riding their bikes like the children do in America.  People can give bikes to bikes to help make the children in Africa happy.

Chappaqua: Future Town of Bikes
by Riya Verma

In Paris, there is a system called “Velib”. It is for bikers and tourists. The system lets you can pick up a bike at one of its many bike stations, bike around Paris, and then return the bike at a different station. For example, you can pick up a bike at the Eiffel Tower and return it near your house or hotel.

This system started in Lyon, France’s third largest city. “It has completely transformed the landscape of Lyon -- everywhere you see people on the bikes," said Jean-Louis Touraine, the city's deputy mayor. Paris hopes “Velib” will change its image -- make it quieter, less polluted, with a nicer atmosphere, a better way of life. Many other cities are also going to start a program like Velib.

I would like my town, Chappaqua, New York, to have this system. It would be a great way to get active. Many children in Chappaqua don’t do anything except play video games and watch television all summer. With a system like Velib, during the summer you can bike everywhere you need to go.

Kids, such as me, can bike to various places such as the library with our friends. Families can bike to the many swim clubs such as Willowbrook, Whippoorwill, and Saw Mill. Kids can also bike to their friends houses. Not only is this an environmentally friendly but also a cheap, safe, and fun mode of transportation system. Low-cost rental bikes at several high-tech bicycle stations scattered throughout the town can cut traffic, reduce pollution, improve parking and enhance the Chappaqua's image as a greener, quieter, more relaxed place. I think a system like Velib will be great for Chappaqua, New York.           

Anderson, John Ward. "Paris Embraces Plan to Become City of Bikes." Washington Post Foreign Service. Available at:, 24 March 2007.


by Christina Norwich

Fire flashes through bulging calves that immediately begin to cramp when I pause to rest for a second, and my heart beats against the walls of my chest.  Breaths come out in sharp, shallow gasps, and every part of my body screams for release during a race.  But I love the sport of cycling, and have a strong will and self-discipline that I require of myself in order to keep going.     

I’ve been racing in Seattle, Washington since I was 6, when I rode a pink Specialized bike with yellow flowers painted on it.  My first races were mountain bike races on a small course, made for kids nine and younger.  When I turned seven, I entered a race on the upper loop of Seattle’s Seward Park and I got left behind by a bunch of boys on the first lap.  Sadness at being left behind all alone overwhelmed me, and at the bottom of the last hill, tears began to flow uncontrollably down my cheeks.  One of the adult riders found me crying, and my dad rode down to see if I had crashed .  With encouragement, I hopped back on the bike and rode up the hill. When I got to the top, everyone else had finished except me, but the spectators at the finish line cheered me on.  I had one more lap to go, and as I sped down the hill, the tears were flung into the wind as I raced on.  The announcer at the top of the hill was waiting to hand me a gold medal for first girl to finish, making my initial sadness turn to joy.   That announcer has watched me grow up to make cycling a part of my life, and a few years after the Seward Park race I was accepted onto a  Northwest junior racing team. 

I am now sixteen and race for both a junior team and a women‘s team in the Northwest.  Bike racing has set me apart, making me a unique person at my high school, and it has allowed me to find my own niche in this world.   My bike, though still a Specialized, is no longer pink and flowery.  It is a responsive, light weight carbon fiber wonder and has been with me to races all over Washington state, and to other parts of the country.  I’ve raced in California for the annual Sea Otter competition, Utah and Pennsylvania for the Junior National Championships, and ridden in Hawaii along the beautiful Kona Coast.  I want to continue to feel the wind in my face and that pain in my legs that makes me know that I am riding fast.  I want to be able to continue participating in the sport that I love because it makes me feel more alive while learning the despair of loss, glory in winning, and the passion that drives me to pay thirty dollars for forty-five miles of pain.  The bike not only provides me with enjoyment, but also with the discipline needed to succeed in life.  It is an object that has come to represent my “specialized” life.

Annual Student Bicycle Essay Contest

Honorable Mention

Why I Like Biking
by Madison Traughber, age 8

I like biking because it is something my family can do together.  My Dad and I watched the Tour de France together in 2007.  We had a fun time.  It was fun to see who won and the medals that they got.  Bicycle racing is a popular international sport.  My brother Mitchell didn’t want to watch it and neither did my Mom, but she sort of did watch it.  My Dad and I are a lot alike.  We like to get outside a lot.  I have a racing bike, my Mom has a mountain bike, my Dad has a Trek bike, and my brother has a Spanish mountain bike.  He has a Spanish mountain bike because our family bought it in Spain for him while we lived in Spain.  A Spanish mountain bike is just like a U.S. mountain bike, but it is a little different. 

When I first learned how to ride a two wheeler, we went down to the park with my family.  My brother knew how to ride a two wheeler and he wanted to race when I didn’t know how yet.  And then I tried and I could do it and my parents clapped and said “Go Maddy!”  After I had learned how to ride a two wheeler I was still practicing and I kept falling on the bike path and it hurt.  I wanted to try tying pillows on me, but they kept on falling off.  So we just had to live with it.  I finally learned how to ride without falling off.

We like to ride on bike paths.  Sometimes we bring our bikes in the car and ride in a park.  I like riding my bike in the park because it’s big and you see other people riding their bikes, running, and walking with their dogs.  Biking is fun because it’s a good sport.  I also like biking because I like to do it with my friends instead of playing inside.  My friends and I like to ride down near the forest and go exploring.  I also like racing with my friends.

I like to ride my brother’s bike and when he grows out of it, I normally get it.  I like my brother’s bikes because I’m a tomboy. 

You should get out and ride your bike because it’s a good sport.

Bicycling is Lots of Fun
by Jesse Pacifico, age 8

Bicycling is losts of fun.  My favorite thing to do on my bike is to pop a wheelie.  I also like to ride really fast.  I race my bike at the fair every year.  Sometimes I win!  My favorite part of the race is the jumps.  Maybe someday I can get a BMX bike and try to do some tricks on ramps like Dave Mirra.  But I’ll have to remember to wear my helmet.

Learning to Bicycling
by Matthew Davis, age 8

I learned bicycling when I was six years old.  It was hard but it was fun.  Riding keeps people healthy.  Peddling makes your legs stronger and your balance better.  Riding bikes gives you fresh air that helps you from getting sick.  Riding bikes are a lot of fun because it makes people happy.

Bicycling with My Family
by Benjamin McClary, age 7

I started biking when I was about three years old because I thought it was fun and good exercise.  My dad got me interested in biking because he bikes to work every day.  Whenever we get a chance, we go for bike rides on the road and sometimes on dirt trails.  We like to sprint and talk about cycling.  I started watching the 2007 Tour de France on TV because my mom and dad watched it and it got my more interested in biking as a sport.  I mostly bike now because it is fun, but I think some day I’d like to complete.  My favorite cyclist is Fabian Cancellara because he’s a great rider and a good teammate.  Bike riding can teach you that you have to cooperate with your team to be successful.  You can never give up when it seems hard.  You just have to keep on going.  It takes a never give up when it seems hard.  You just have to keep on going.  It takes a lot of hard work to be a good bike rider.  I would like to be a cyclist when I grow up so I can be one of those riders that I see on TV.  Maybe one day I can be a role model and encourage other kids to get into cycling.

Bicycling to a Better Life
by Amanda Moon, age 12

Are you tired of paying too much for gas?  Do you want to loose 10 pounds?  Wish you could breathe clean air?  If you answered yes then try to start using your bike as your mode of transportation.  We could save money on gas, lose that extra 10 pounds, and breathe cleaner air.

Even though some Americans don’t have the money to fill there gas tanks every week they do anyway.  If we all start using are bikes as a mode of transportation it would be like getting handed anywhere from 10-100 dollars a week.  How amazing would that be.  Then with the money you would save you could do many other family things with it.  Not for every occasion would it be appropriate but to take a trip to the post-office and to other things like that, choose to ride your bike.

Also I think that using your bike as a mode of transportation would help with the health of many over weight Americans.  Using your bike a least once a day would help the over weight people become the size they are suppose to weigh.  Not even the heavy people because it can help with cardiovascular.

Last but not least they can help the world breath cleaner air.  If we reduce are amount of car rides per day we can put less pollution.  With less pollution the world can be a cleaner and healthier place to live.

Coming to a conclusion if we use our bikes as a mode of transportation the world can become a better place.  We can spend less money on gas and have more family time.  Get more exercise and breathe cleaner air.  Choose to ride your bike when possible.

Teaching Taylor
by Angie Romero, age 12

It all started when I moved.  My neighbor was about four or five years old.  Automatically, she liked me and wanted to spend every minute with me.  She already learned how to ride a little kid bike with training wheels, but she wanted to ride a big bike like me.  It was still really muddy because there was no grass and the sidewalk wasn’t even finished all of the way yet.  First, we had to go to the store and buy her a “big girl” bike.  We got her a nice little pink with Barbie on it.

Taylor was already jumping out of the car before it stopped when we got home.  She was so excited.  We took her bike out of the car and she got on it right away.  I taught her how to stop the bike without the handle breaks and told her that she should always wear her helmet.  Then, I got her started riding the bike and let go.  She forgot to stop when the sidewalk stopped so she did a flipped into mud with her new bike.  She wasn’t hurt but was crying of embarrassment.

After she got cleaned up it was dark and we couldn’t ride outside anymore.  She asked me if I could sleep over so I could tell her what to do.  I did and since we couldn’t ride a bike outside, she rode the exercise bike.  After that, she wanted me to play school with her and the light bulb went off on the top of my head.  I thought I could teach her how to ride a bike by playing a teacher.  She said that would make it more fun.  She also said that if she were having fun then she would probably listen more to what I was saying.  We were having so much fun that we didn’t really even know what time it was.  The next morning, we got up pretty late, but when we got dressed and had breakfast, we went out and started right away.  Taylor was getting better and better and the more she practiced riding her muddy bike.  She never gave up no matter how many times she fell and scraped her knee or elbow.

After about two weeks, Taylor was riding her bike like a little pro.  Before I knew it she wanted to come with me when I was going for a bike ride.  After she figured out that she could ride a bike, she wanted to try a unicycle, but I told her that that was way too complicated for her at that age.  She thought that it would be just as easy as riding a two-wheeler, but I explained to her how much practice it took and she immediately changed her mind.

Taylor’s sister was jealous and wanted to teach her how to ride a two-wheeler bike too.  I really didn’t want to, considering I’d have to teach her the same way I taught Taylor, but I said that I would.  She was way more impatient than Taylor, but I managed to get though it in one piece.  In the end, I taught a four year old and a three year old how to ride a bike in about a month and a half.  It was tiring but I got used to the girls wanting me to teach them stuff I do.  They enjoyed learning how to ride a bike from me.  They said that I was very fun and they gave me a great big hug.

Bikes Are the Best Way to Get Around
by Rachel Anderson, age 12

Do you want to keep yourself and this world happy and healthy?  If you do, one of the best things you can do is to change your mode of transportation.  Why use a car when you can use a bike instead?

First of all, using a bike instead of a car would keep you much healthier.  The only exercise a car could give you is strengthening the muscles in your leg by moving it up and down.  A bike would do much more for you.  You need to use more energy to move peddles on a bike.  You could easily burn off that big breakfast you just had by getting on a bike instead of in a car.  If you are trying to live a healthier lifestyle, hopping on a bike is one of the best things that you can do for yourself.

A bike is also way better than a car if you want to help in the act of saving the planet.  The fuel released by our cars is really hurting Mother Nature.  We think that part of the cause of global warming is how much of he harmful gas is being put in the air by cars.  No matter where you travel to, you most likely will find plenty of cars driving down the streets.  We need to try to get rid of at least some of these cars.  Can you imagine what air would look like if you could see everything we have put into the air?  You would not want to be breathing the air at all.  Whether you can see it or not, these harmful gasses are floating all around you.  If we just hopped on a bike instead of into a car our air would be so much healthier.

Finally, go to a gas station and look at the prices.  They could really burn a hole in your pocket.  The price of gas is skyrocketing and there is nothing we can do about that.  We can use our cars less and use our bikes more to save our wallets instead of paying these prices.  With prices getting close to four dollars a gallon it would be very helpful to use a bike instead.  In the end it would save you lots of money so you could buy what you really want.

Now it is up to you.  To put a stop to being unhealthy, making the world unhealthy and burning a hole in our pockets we need to get on the bike instead of into a car.  Now go out and start tiding you bike today.  The change starts with you.

Enjoy the Ride!
by Courtney Collins, age 12

Swoosh, Swoosh!  That’s the sound of you cycling as fast as you can.  Riding your bike is something that everyone should do.  It helps you stay healthy and fit, it doesn’t pollute the air, and it helps to relieve stress.  So why don’t you hop on a bike and start cycling?!

First and foremost, one of the major advantages to riding your bike is that it helps you stay healthy.  Do you know that about 70% of people are not active enough to be healthy?  Talk about a lot of couch potatoes!  Just by taking your bike out for twenty-five minutes a day can help to reduce heart diseases, high blood pressure, and colon cancer.  Plus, being physically inactive is as bad as smoking twenty cigarettes a day!  Besides being healthy, cycling can help you to stay fit.  It is a great exercise to help you to lose weight or  keep it off.  Besides, how many overweight people that often ride their bikes do you know?!  If you get your daily dose of cycling, your sure to be a healthier and more fit person.

In addition, cycling can help to improve our earth.  The earth gets polluted more and more, each and every day.  Right now there is a huge cloud of pollution covering our earth.  No big deal?  Think again.  It’s as thick as ten football fields end to end!  When your going to the store nearby, why get in your car and send all the pollution to the earth when you can hop on your bike and get there only a few minutes later?  Not only is it saving you gas money, but it’s helping our earth.  Sure, carpooling helps, but riding your bike helps so much more!  Thus, if everybody does their part, and cycles every once in a while instead of driving, we could be looking at a less polluted, cleaner earth.

In another instance, cycling can help reduce depression and stress.  In fact, studies show that cycling daily helps to reduce depression, anxiety and stress levels.  Taking a ride in the park or on the trail on your bike can help to turn your frown upside down!  It helps to make you happier and give you the alone time you need.  Plus, don’t you think a calm ride is better than a traffic jam, with people honking horns, yelling, and making you late for work?  I don’t know about you, but I would rather it any day!  As you can see, another major reason for bicycling is that it helps to relieve stress and mental pain.

Clearly, riding your bike is a must if you want to be healthier and more fit, decrease the amount of pollution, and relieve stress and depression.  So what are you waiting for?  Get out your bike, hop on, and ride your way to a happier, healthier life.  Enjoy the ride!

Bicycling In China
by Chenghan Zou, age 16

I live in China, a country that is usually referred to as the “kingdom of bicycles” because of the popularity of bikes in this country. Bicycles play an important role in Chinese people’s life. They have become an indispensable part of the Chinese way of life.

     China is growing at a speed that surprises the world. With the fast development of the community, more and more people become able to buy cars and more and more public transportation facilities are under construction. In spite of this, bicycles remain the most-widely-used means of transportation in China. Where there are people, there are bicycles. On the streets, beside the highways, in the parks…you can find people riding bikes almost everywhere. People commute between home and workplaces by bike, go shopping for daily items by bike, and even visit each other by bike. People favor bikes to other transports because in China public places like supermarkets and restaurants are usually nearby. It would make more sense if they choose riding a bike instead of driving a car to some place that is less than one mile away. Moreover, car owners often find it difficult to park their cars in the parking lots because they always seem to be full. So much time is wasted when people are trying to find a space for the car. But this problem will not trouble bike riders since they can park their bikes almost wherever they want. Finally, it looks like going out by bike has become a habit. People have been used to this way of transportation.

But bicycles are not just a transport. As they say, “A healthy body is the prerequisite for everything.” The importance of health can never be overestimated. Chinese people have generally come to recognize the relationship between exercise and their health. As a result, bikes now also used as a kind of facilities for exercise. Many people get up early in the morning and exercise by riding bikes outdoor. A lot of organizations and funds are founded in order to popularize the exercise of bicycle riding. For example, there is a bike organization named “The Great Wall” near my house. In every October it holds a riding competition around the city of Chengdu (my hometown) which is meant to encourage people from all ages to ride bicycles to stay healthy.

The air pollution in China is getting more and more serious. Many environmentally friendly organizations call on people not to drive cars and ride bicycles instead. Many people take part in this event. Bicycles are doing a job to protect the environment.

Bicycles have relationships with China in so many ways. People use bikes as a kind of transport and as facilities to exercise. Bikes are even used to reduce environmental pollution. Bikes’ importance in China cannot be overestimated.

Letting Go
by Alexis Ciukaj-Miller, age 13

When I was six years old, I learned to ride a bike.  It was on a hot summer day, about 90 degrees with little wind.  I went outside to play and to my surprise I found a bike, it was silver and purple and very glittery, too!  I asked my mom, “Why is there a bike outside?”  My mom had told me she and my father bought it for me since I did really good in school. 

I asked her, “What I was supposed to do with it?” 

She responded, “Ride it, silly.”

“You mean that it is all mine?” I said.

“You bet it is.”  My mom told me.

“That’s radical!!” I screamed and then hugged my bike.  We’re going to be friends, I whispered to my shiny new bike.  My mom smiled and then laughed at what I said.  I asked my mom, “Can I ride my “friend” now?”

“Yes, but first we definitely need to address safety first before actually riding your bike.”  “.. and that would be .. ?” I asked my mom.

“Safety means that you will need to wear these at all times when riding your bike,” she said.  She handed me these real shiny purple knee, elbow pads and a helmet too, and assisted me in getting them secured and in place.  Then, we were ready to begin the lesson.  Finally, right?  Well, at least we could say I was ready for the lesson… my mom on the other hand; well I wasn’t so sure about her since I was her little baby girl and this was a small step in my growing up.

Let the journey begin, I plopped onto my new sparkly purple bike and anxiously waiting for instructions.  “Okay, now pedal with your feet and I will hold on to you.” I did as she told me to.  Am I moving I thought to myself?  I thought to myself, maybe I’m dizzy??  No, I wasn’t dizzy, I was moving!  It was a miracle!  I actually was balancing my entire body weight on two rubber wheels.  I thought excitedly to myself, I want to just go, go, go!  I couldn’t be happier with myself, until, the thoughts of hitting a rock or bump and diving head first into a tree?!?! Now, I was really scared… “Am I going to fall?” I asked my mother.

“No, I’m holding onto you and I would never let that happen for the world,” said my mom.

“Keep it going you’re doing great!” she applauded me.

“Okay,” I thought out loud, “You can let go now.”

“Are you sure?” asked my mother.

“Yes!” I said eagerly, although I recall scared to death!  My mom let me go, I felt as if I was flying away like a bird, but fortunately for me I wasn’t!  But, I definitely felt all grown-up!  I was so happy for myself.  My mom ran after me and wrapped her arms around me.

“So, what did you think of my bike riding skills?” I asked my mom proudly.  My mom started to cry, I didn’t know whether it was a good cry or bad.

“Are you sad?” I asked.

“No, sweetie I’m so proud of you.  You looked like a rock star riding that bike!” she said.

“I couldn’t agree more!” I said laughing.  My mom laughed and hugged me, although it was more like a squeeze-me-to-death kind of hug.

“Well, it wasn’t that hard after all.”  I lied, knowing it was the toughest thing in all my six years of living.

“… And it was all thanks to you mom, for helping me,” I said.

“Okay, you can stop smothering me with your hugs now,” I said.

She did but as she let go, she turned her head slightly looking over her shoulder with a sparkle in her eye and said “I love you!”

That was one of my best memories with my mom as a little kid, a day I will never forget.  That memory makes me love my mom more and more each day, knowing how many great times I share with her and the life lessons that she has taught me.  That is my true story of how I learned to ride a two-wheeled bike, and my moms first steps in letting her “little girl” go.

The Ride.
by Allison Boden, age 16

To my surprise, Sally walked into the garage today. She has not done that in a long time. She had a smile on her face and I had no clue what was happening. She looked excited and began to move me. She even grabbed her helmet. I thought for a second that she was going to ride me, but that did not happen. She picked me up and placed me in a car. I was getting nervous at that point. Was she giving me away?

Sally has not taken me out for a long time. Since she has been in high school, she has not had enough time to ride me. Sally was always playing a sport or doing her homework. She was also too “cool” to be seen with me. I missed her so much. As I sat in the back of the car, I daydreamed about her riding me. . .

One beautiful summer day, Sally decided that she was bored. She didn’t know what to do. Should she watch television or go swimming? She could not make up her mind, so she asked her mom. Her mom said my favorite phrase: “Why don’t you ride your bike?” I was ecstatic. Sally had just gotten me for her twelfth birthday, so I was in tip-top condition. My wheels were perfectly inflated and I felt good. As Sally placed her brand new helmet on her head, I realized that we were meant for each other.

As we traveled together, I loved the way the sun reflected off my shiny blue paint. I remember one of the neighbors passed by as we were touring around, and to my amazement, could not take her eyes off of me and walked into a telephone pole. That might be an exaggeration, but you were not there, so you would not know! This was one of the first times Sally had ridden me and it was the best time of my life. I remember the wind running through my handle bars and not having a care in the world. Sally and I cycled for three hours that day, which had a great affect on both of us. She gained the love of an inanimate object and I believe my horn grew four sizes that day. I will cherish that memory forever.

As Sally’s mother slammed on the brakes, my daydream ended. I looked out the window to see where we were going. Throughout the rest of the journey, I kept looking for a sign that said “bike junkyard”. I was planning my escape. Is it possible for a bicycle to open a car door? I didn’t think so. Just then, the car stopped. I looked and saw hundreds of people riding their bikes. I was so excited. Was it a bike park? Sally lovingly took me out and placed me on the ground. She patted my seat and told me we would be spending every day together. Was this heaven? No, it was a place called “College Freshman Registration”. We had arrived at our new home.

Bicycles, Bicycling, Bikes
by Virginia Mares, age 16

When the word bicycle pops up in casual conversation at my home, my immediate response is usually not again! accompanied by a groan of utter despair, because for my dad cycling is more than a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. As in he identifies every bicycle we pass on the road, brand name and the year manufactured. The Tour de France is on 24/7. Sure, some people rescue stray cats, my dad, he rescues bikes. And every bike that he brings home winds up in our den (the shed reached maximum capacity years ago) because heaven forbid a bicycle stays outside to rust.

Honestly bikes are not my preferred mode of transportation. I have some not so fond memories of my older brother teaching me how to ride a bike. His encouraging voice promised not to let me go, but as soon as I stole a quick glance back to make sure he was still there I found myself in a heap on the ground and my brother at the other end of the street.

Then one day a few years ago my dad brought home a rusty, Fuji bicycle for me. I must admit I was less than impressed. There are still at least three bikes in the shed with my name on it, waiting to be fixed up. My dad cleaned it up, changed the gears, and added a fresh coat of paint. The result was a fast street bike.

That summer my dad and I rode everywhere together. We explored parks, little towns, and one overly wooded area. That was an experience all right. There wasn’t a real trail and we rode through a very dense forest. After we made it out, I think we created a path. My dad still jokes that we gave new meaning to the word mountain biking on that day.

Whether we’re riding down a dirt road at the beach or pedaling through a summer shower, it’s always an adventure. We’ve stumbled upon new restaurants, and seen whole herds of deer. One of my favorite places we found was a fortune cookie factory right near our house. I’m always surprised by how much my dad knows about bicycles. He even taught me how to change a tire.

So on the evenings that I have no place to sit because there are bikes in the living room and I receive, once again, a lecture on the importance of “sharing the road,” I can appreciate what bicycles have given me: the memories and adventures of spending time with my dad.

Biking and It's Benefits
by Doreen Tsu, age 16

The bicycle is unquestionably one of mankind's greatest machine—a machine capable of both entertaining and exercising people for generations now. Countless millions—perhaps even billions—enjoy the bicycle as their primary mode of transportation, their method of getting in shape, or even just for the pure joy of riding a bicycle. Nonetheless, I am utterly flabbergasted to learn about the shocking statistics: the number of bikers has drastically decreased in the past decades with the advent of more technologically-advanced machines and the increasingly number of apathetic and sedentary beings. But for this, I ask why? I simply cannot comprehend how, in any way or shape, biking can be trumped by other forms of transportation or entertainment. The true benefits of biking are indescribably tremendous.

On an emotional level, sports—and most certainly biking—releases happiness hormones, thus contributing to a more rejuvenated and longer living self. The effects of biking on one's spirit and mind are incontrovertible, and from personal experience, I thoroughly understand and appreciate the bicycle's ability to transform even the worst of days to absolute bliss. After another grueling day of school or a particularly bad disagreement with a good friend, there is simply nothing more appealing then to hop on my bike and feel the wind in my hair—letting go of all the worries and unpleasantness in the world by merely pedaling fast and enjoying the full experience of biking. Suddenly I enter a magical world of peace and beauty, and nothing can touch me. My mind has inevitably turned into a state of perfect and unequalled harmony without a hint of my previous distress or rage. That's the power of biking.

Even more physically, the benefits of biking are unparalleled. In our very modern age, life is becoming easy and it's understandably hard to resist the luring temptations of the car or the sofa. Alarmingly, many people around the world have completely been immersed in this life of inactivity. Yet the consequences are immense and exceedingly apparent: a dramatic rise in heart disease, stroke, and other life-threatening illnesses. What appears to have been a miracle in the form of automobiles may very well be a curse—a life-threatening curse. Biking, conversely, boosts one's health. Numerous studies have proved bicycling's value to reducing the risk of many common and deadly conditions such as heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Bicycling to even the shortest distances makes the world of a difference for an enhanced physical health—but more importantly, an enhanced lifestyle.

For those environmentally-conscious, it may be interesting to note that biking indubitably improves the state of our earth. While cars, trucks, and other forms of transportation are extreme gas-guzzlers, biking promotes the environment by not contributing its share of these harmful chemicals to the ozone. Unlike others, bikes do not contribute to any pollution, whether it be environmental, air, or even noise pollution. If even just a minute portion of earth's citizens biked, it would make a world of a difference to our fragile environment. After all, the environment is essentially the basis of our existence, and protecting it is not only the beneficial to us all, but the morally right thing to do.

And even to those who are financially accountable, biking produces much benefits. Bicycles have been found by conservative estimates to save thousands—even tens of thousands of dollars. Now that should be good news to those who wish to conserve money for more pertinent items. With no gasoline, insurance, and of course, the actual transportation vehicle to pay for, the bicycle is a sure bet for those who are looking for ways to cut back on their extravagant lifestyle.

But ultimately, I wonder about those poor people who have not been exposed to the delights of the bicycle of biking. I pity those who are so ignorant to the beneficial effects of biking because it is they who will miss out on everything—on the financial, physical, environmental, and emotional gains in the activity that is biking.

Bicycling and Lance Armstrong
by Alicia Addonizio, age 13

Lance began running and swimming at the age of 10 years old and took up competitive cycling and triathlons at 13.At the young age of 16 Lance Armstrong became a professional triathlete.  He was the national sprint-course triathlon champion in 1989 and 1990.  Cycling was his strongest and favorite sport in the triathlon so he soon decided to focus on that.  His senior year in high school he was invited to train with the U.S Olympic development team in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

He left high school temporarily to train but later started private classes and received his high school diploma in 1989.  By 1990 he qualified for the junior world team and placed 11th in the world championship road race.  He placed 11th with the best time of any American since 1976.  During that year he became the U.S national amateur champion and beat professional cyclists to win two major races.  The two major races he won that year are the First Union Grand Prix, and the Thrift Drug Classic.  In 1991 Lance competed on his first Tour DuPont.  He finished in the middle of the group but his performance announced a promising newcomer to the world of international cycling.  Later that summer lance raced in the Settimana Bergamasca race in Italy and won.  Armstrong was favored to win the road race in Barcelona, Spain after finishing second in the U.S Olympic time trials in 1992.  During the road race in Barcelona Armstrong finished 14th.  Immediately after the Olympics Armstrong turned professional, joining the Motorola cycling team for a reasonable yearly salary.  Even though he came in last place in the day-long San Sebastian race which was his first professional event, Armstrong rebounded and finished second in a World Cup race in Zurich, Switzerland two weeks later.

Armstrong had a strong year in 1993 winning cycling “Triple Crown” for the Thrift Drug Classic, the Kmart West Virginia Classic and the CoreStates race.  During that same year he came in second at the Tour DuPont.  He started off well in his Tour de France which is considered cycling most prestigious event.  Though he won the eighth stage of that race, he eventually fell to 62nd and then pulled out of the race.  21 year old Armstrong won his most important race in August of 1993: the World Road Race Championship in Oslo, Norway.  Armstrong crashed twice during that race due to slick roads from the pouring rain.

The following year he was the runner up at the Tour DuPont.  He trained with a vengeance for the next year’s event which he won by two minutes.  In late august 2000 Armstrong suffered bruises and a shock to the system when he was hit by a car while biking in Southern France.  He was recuperated in time to compete at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia where he won bronze in the individual time trial.

In 1996 he founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation for Cancer, now called LiveStrong, and the Lance Armstrong Junior Race Series to help promote cycling and racing among America’s youth.  Lance is also the author of two best-selling autobiographies; It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, and Every Second Counts.  In 2006, he ran the New York City Marathon and raised $600,000 for his LiveStrong campaign.

Bike Safety 101!!!
by Pressley Chakales, age 16

And it started with a bang. All I could recall from the accident was waking up to the sounds of sirens and panic-stricken yells of the people around me. I dozed off again, only to find myself waking up in the nearest hospital surrounded by my family and friends anxiously waiting for me to come back to consciousness. They told me that as I was bicycling in my neighborhood on the legal bike lanes, I was hit head on by a fellow motorist who was inattentively blabbing on her cell phone. Although I was the victim of a few minor injuries, including a broken ankle and slight concussion, I was tremendously angered by how unsafe the rules of the road are. I knew that at that moment, although hazy from the medicine, I had to do something to promote safety for all motorists, mainly bicyclists.

A month later I was fully healed and ready to put up a solid fight. Where are the biggest problems? How many bicycle accidents have been unreported? Question after question arose from my young bright head, yet I had no clue who to ask or where to go. Because all of my friends were extremely supportive of my decision to help out fellow bicyclists, they compelled me to form an organization for young people, like me, who wanted to promote safety for others.

After a few weeks of bringing together other students who believed as we did, we came upon the brilliant idea of Students for Bike Safety (SBS). In our group we came up with many rules and regulations to encourage the wellbeing of bicyclists. One of the tribulations bicyclists face are motorists who think they don't belong on the road. Bicyclists have every right to be out on the road, and as motorists we must share roadways safely with all users.

Because bike riding is a pleasurable sport, accidents happen all the time. Every year, about 300,000 kids go to the emergency room because of bike injuries, many in which are so serious that children die due to head abrasions. Because of my slight head injury, I strongly advocate the fact that bike lanes are for bikes only, and every neighborhood should have a sign declaring kids are around and playing.

In SBS, we believe bike helmets are hugely vital to the safety of people. Helmets are so important that the U.S. government has created safety standards for them. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) declared that helmets should have a sticker that says it meets their standards. We understand and believe the safety of helmets and because I was wearing a helmet, we strongly encourage riders to always wear a bike helmet, even if it is a short ride.

Some other beliefs we have in SBS are that wearing bright clothes and putting reflectors on your bike can tremendously affect the visible safety of yourself. Other people will see you and will be less likely to run into you. You also should want to make sure that nothing will get caught in your bike chain, such as shoelaces and long pants. Wearing the right shoes when you bike will help you grip the pedals, and even riding gloves may help you grip the handlebars.

Bicycling is an important and pleasurable sport for Americans. Following the rules and regulations of the road can immensely add satisfaction and safety to your mind, your health, and your enjoyment of the simple sport of bicycling. Adhering understanding the rules can promote safety for everyone as well as make you a responsible role model to younger, beginner bicyclists. Through hard work and commitment, one day the road will be safe again.


Annual Student Bicycle Essay Contest



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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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