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My Bicycle Essay

A bicycle (or bike) is a small, human powered land vehicle with a seat, two wheels, two pedals, and a metal chain connected to cogs on the pedals and rear wheel. A frame gives the bike strength, and the other parts are attached to the frame. The name comes from these two wheels - the prefix "bi-" meaning two, and the suffix "-cycle" meaning wheel. It is powered by a person riding on top, who pushes the pedals around with his or her feet.

Riding bicycles, which is also called cycling, is an important way to travel in several parts of the world. The most popular type of cycling is Utility cycling. It is also a common recreation, a good form of low-impact exercise, and a popular sport. Road bicycle racing is the second most popular spectator sport in the world. Bicycling uses less energy per mile than any other human transport.[1]

Invention[change | change source]

In 1817 a German professor, baron Karl von Drais, created the first two-wheeled bicycle. It was made of wood and had two wheels. The front wheel could be turned using the handlebars in order to steer the bike. However, it did not have pedals, so the rider would have to push their feet on the ground to make it move.

In the 1860s, French inventors added pedals to the front wheel. However, it took a lot of effort to turn the pedals. Later inventors made bikes out of metal only, and made the front wheel very big, giving higher speed. This design was called the penny-farthing bicycle. However, it was difficult to ride, since it could fall easily and the rider would fall far.

Several improvements were made in the 1880s and '90s. In 1885, the safety bicycle was invented. This had two wheels the same size so that the rider could sit at a lower height. It was called the safety bicycle because it much easier to ride than the penny-farthing. When stopping, the rider can simply put down a foot instead of completely dismounting. Instead of pedaling and steering with the front wheel, the safety bicycle steers with the front wheel while the pedals turn the back wheel using a chain. Brakes operated by hand levers on some bikes also increased safety.

In 1888, Scottish inventor John Boyd Dunlop re-invented a type of tire which was filled with air, and this made cycling far more comfortable. Soon, the freewheel was invented. This was a device inside the hub of the back wheel that allowed the wheel to spin even if the rider wasn't pedalling. However, this meant the rider could no longer stop the bike by backpedalling. As a result, a different type of brake was invented which could stop the bike if the pedals were turned backwards. Later inventions included better brakes, and gears which made cycling over hills much easier. During this time the bicycle became very popular.

Basic Design[change | change source]

Basic components common to most bikes include a seat, pedals, gearing, handlebar, wheels, and brakes, all mounted on a frame. The majority also have a gear shifter. The cyclist's feet push the pedals to make them go around in circles, which moves the chain, which turns the back wheel of the bike to make the bike move forwards. The front wheel is connected to the handlebar, so turning the handlebar from side to side swivels the front wheel which steers the bike.

Types of Bicycles[change | change source]

  • The city bicycle is made for cities. It is comfortable and has a relatively high speed. It has a comfortable seat but is heavy. It has front and back lights and a bell. There are carriers at the back and sometimes in the front. It has mudguards to keep water and mud from spraying the rider. The rider sits upright which is comfortable and is better for safety, when cycling in traffic.
  • The mountain bicycle is used for riding on rough roads. They have many speeds (usually more than 20), wide tires, and strong wheels. The tire is specially designed to ride smoothly on hills, grass, and mountains.
  • The difference between a woman's bicycle and other bicycles is the location of the top tube. When women began to ride bikes, they wore long skirts. The manufacturers of bicycles changed the location of the top tube to make it easier for women to sit down on them while wearing a skirt. Some utility bicycles are similar, for riders who make frequent stops.
  • The tandem bicycle is made for two people. It has two pairs of pedals. The cyclists sit one behind another. The first cyclist steers the bicycle. There are bicycles for three and more people. There was a bicycle for 40 people.
  • Folding bicycles can easily be stored in a small place or carried a long distance on an airplane or other public transport.
  • Electric Bicycles have electric motors, usually inside the hub of either the front or rear wheel. You can choose to ride using the motor only, or with pedals only or with both together. In the U.S. the federal government has set a limit of 750 Watts and a top electric-powered speed of 20MPH to have only the rules that apply to bicycles and no extra restrictions such as operator license, vehicle license, registration or insurance requirements.
  • A road bicycle usually has narrow wheels, less than 1" (25 mm) wide, with a frame that is much lighter than a mountain bicycle. Road bikes are efficient for longer distances. Many have clips to attach your shoes, rather than just pedals. There are variations, as some road bicycles have regular tires. Road bicycle racing is a popular sport.
  • Recumbent bicycles come in several styles, but all of them have pedals in front of the seat, and the rider leans back while riding. This is more comfortable for most people, but cost more. Some types are lower to the ground, so it might be harder to see in traffic. The fastest bikes in the world are recumbents.[2]

Safety[change | change source]

When riding on streets, it is safest to ride on the same side of the street that cars drive (which would mean riding on the right side of the road in countries where people drive on the right side of the road, and riding on the left in countries where people drive on the left). To avoid hitting people, riders must obey signs that say "no bicycling", even if it does not seem to make sense at the time. Low light makes bicycle lighting important. It may not be safe to ride when it is dark. Riders wear reflective clothing to be safer in low light. Wearing a helmet makes bicycle riding safer. More than 300,000 people children alone to go to a hospital every year because they were hurt riding a bicycle.[3] Wearing a helmet does not mean that somebody cannot be hurt if they crash their bicycle, but it makes being hurt less likely.[4] Some bicycles have bells or horns that the rider can use to warn other people that they are riding by them.

Bicycle Paths[change | change source]

A safe way to go on a bicycle is when you have a bicycle path linking houses with shops, schools and stations. These are made in places where bicycle safety is given consideration, so you do not have to cycle in busy traffic on dangerous roads.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bicycle.
  1. "Science of Cycling: Human Power". www.exploratorium.edu. p. 1. Retrieved 2007-08-11. 
  2. "Land speed records (unpaced)". IHPVA. Retrieved 5 January 2017. 
  3. "Bike Safety". kidshealth.org. Retrieved July 29, 2010. 
  4. "Helmets: How they Work and What Standards Do". bhsi.org. Retrieved July 29, 2010. 
Modern mountain bike has thick, wide tires for use on rocky trails
People using bikes in Mexico City
Wooden Draisine (around 1820), the first two-wheeler

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

Honorable Mention

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


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