Gas prices have been steadily rising, but what do I care? I get around by bicycle.

My main mode of transportation may be old-fashioned, but it's free, it's healthy and it's eco-friendly.

Much to my disappointment, it's also socially unacceptable in the "Danville bubble," where I live.

When people find out I bike to school, the usual response is: "Wow, that sucks! Why? Don't you have your license?"

Yes, I do have a driver's license. No, I do not wish I had a car. Inconceivable as it may sound, I actually prefer to avoid driving whenever I can.

At Monte Vista High, a large public school with more than 2,000 students, I would guess I am one of about 20 kids who ride bikes to school on a regular basis. I can hardly even blame the other 99 percent of the student body for sticking to their cars, because my fellow bikers and I are the objects of perpetual harassment.

I've had the air let out of my tires, my gears messed up and my reflector stolen. The basket on the back of the bike serves as a trash can. When I'm biking home after school, strangers will take the time to slow down their cars and yell out the window at me in mocking tones.

Such inconveniences and insults may seem minor, but the effect over time is an awful feeling of insecurity. And I know from talking to other bikers that they've had similar experiences. Why do people feel the need to behave so maliciously?


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I cannot deny that my bicycle, an oversized hand-me-down left over from my mom's college days, is not flashy or sexy. On the other hand, it seems strange that society glorifies cars, gas-guzzling machines that pollute our air and cause millions of injuries and deaths every year.

The popular perception of what's cool is, in my admittedly offbeat opinion, slightly skewed.

I wonder how we got to this point, where cars are a status symbol and bicycles are an embarrassment. I wonder if it's pride or just laziness, or a combination of both, that drives people to drive everywhere.

Imagine what would happen if one day (Earth Day, perhaps?) everyone decided to make a pledge to leave their car keys at home for all trips under 5 miles, a distance that can easily be covered by biking or walking. Less gas, less CO2 emissions, less road rage and car wrecks. How much pollution could we prevent? How much oil could we save? How much safer and healthier would we be?

We'll never know until we try.

In the meantime, let me pedal around on my unfashionable bicycle in peace.

The Life in Perspective board is made up of teens who write columns and features for this newspaper. Camille Debreczeny attends Monte Vista High School in Danville. Reach her at lip@bayareanewsgroup.com.