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Study: Of all Transportation Modes, Cycling Evokes the Most Positive Mood

12:40 PM PDT on May 30, 2014

People are in a better mood while biking than driving or riding the bus, according to a new study. Photo: Richard Masoner on Flickr
People are in a better mood while biking than driving or riding the bus, according to a new study. Photo: Richard Masoner/Flickr
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Bike travel is the mode most likely to put a smile on your face.

That's the finding from a new academic study published in the Springer journal "Transportation." Researchers from Clemson and the University of Pennsylvania surveyed 13,000 randomly selected people about their mood during random activities throughout the day.

Contrary to previous research, they found that mood was not significantly affected simply because people were traveling from place to place; those in transport were about as happy as average during the day.

When it came to different modes of transportation, the impacts were slight and not statistically significant. Still, researchers found that cycling elicited the most positive emotions. They also said this might reflect that people who are generally more fit and enthusiastic are attracted to biking in the first place.

The next happiest group of travelers was passengers in cars, followed by car drivers. Meanwhile, the most frustrated class were those who moved around on transit. The researchers said part of that negative feeling might come from the fact that transit riders are more likely to be commuting to work, which is a less enjoyable task across all modes.

The authors of the study say this last finding might suggest a need to invest more in transit riders' "emotional experience," as opposed to frequency and travel speed. But negative feelings experienced by transit riders might well stem from the kind of headaches caused by underinvestment. And positive feelings that come with driving, to some extent, might result from the enormous expenditures that go into making that activity as convenient as possible.

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