April Flowers for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Transportation, no matter what mode you use, is part of our daily lives. We ride our bikes for exercise, ride the train or bus to work, or drive our cars on vacation. Researchers at Clemson University wanted to know how our different modes of transportation affect our moods, and which would make us the happiest.
The study, published in the journal Transportation, examined how emotions like happiness, pain, stress, sadness and fatigue vary during travel and by travel mode.
Data collected by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of the American Time Use Survey was analyzed by the research team to determine the average mood felt by people using different modes of travel.
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“We found that people are in the best mood while they are bicycling compared to any other mode of transportation,” said Eric Morris, assistant professor in Clemson’s planning, development and preservation department, in a statement.
Cyclists, on the whole, tend to be a self-selected group who are very enthusiastic about their mode of transportation, according to Morris. The study found bicycle users were the happiest.
“Bicyclists are generally younger and physically healthy, which are traits that happier people usually possess,” he said.
Car passengers are the next happiest, according to the findings, followed by car drivers. The most negative emotions were expressed by bus and train riders. Morris cautions that part of this negativity can be attributed to the fact that mass transit is disproportionately used for commuting to and from work.
The researchers say that their findings show positive implications for bicycles beyond the typically cited health and transportation ones. They suggest that improving the emotional experience of transit riders could be as important as improving traditional service features, such as headways and travel speeds.
“Understanding the relationship between how we travel and how we feel offers insight into ways of improving existing transportation services, prioritizing investments and theorizing and modeling the costs and benefits of travel,” said Morris.