Poking around the interwebs yesterday, I ran across this piece on how your mode of travel affects your mood. While this article seems to exaggerate the actual differences that the study found (here’s the abstract), I am happy to report that cyclists came out on top. When compared to drivers of cars, passengers in cars, and those that take public transportation, bicycle commuters are the happiest of the bunch.
Anecdotally, This Is What I’ve Found
One of the things that’s been so interesting about telling friends that we sold the Jeep and I’m bike commuting exclusively is how supportive they’ve been* and also, a little jealous of all my bike commuting. And the biggest part of it is that they can tell I’m a LOT happier now.
It’s not that I was particularly unhappy before I started bike commuting, it was just that I managed to bring the stress of work home with me in the car. I don’t know exactly why, but that just doesn’t happen in nearly the same way with a bicycle. There’s something about getting moving at the end of every work day that wipes most of the work stress from my life. Weird, right? But totally true. It’s just hard to stay solidly ticked off when you’re pedaling past golf courses and get to pause on the bridge when you see dolphins playing just below you on the water.
Bike commuting is also an odd sort of community in a way that I never found driving to be. I pass many of the same walkers and bikers, and students waiting for the school bus (though I guess now that school’s out I’ll see them again in the fall!) every day. And being a part of even a loose community like that changes the way that I feel and interact with my surroundings in a positive way.
Other Trickle Down Effects Are Great
And there’s another positive side effect – my normally slightly lazy immune system is doing a much better job of keeping germs at bay ever since I started biking. It used to be the case that whenever one of Mr PoP’s coworkers showed up to work with a cough, I’d inevitably come down with that cough two days later. This past winter… nothing. And Mr PoP even took a couple of hits from various viruses. I’m not an MD, but my guess is that I’m fighting colds off better because I’m not nearly as stressed all the time from work.
Biking Isn’t About the Monetary Savings For Us
This is primarily a personal finance blog, so when we talk about biking, or selling the Jeep and becoming a one-car household, we usually end up talking about the money. But the fact of the matter is that if I didn’t enjoy this as much as I do, we would definitely not have gone down this road. (Pardon the pun.) We earn a good living, and it wouldn’t be worth adding tons more stress to our lives for the sake of a few dollars. But the fact that it removes stress AND saves a few dollars… well that’s just a bonus.
Is Biking the Perfect Commute?
I don’t think biking is perfect. Some days I wish for a slightly shorter bike commute. And for the next month or so I’ve got to make sure I ride with my mouth closed on evenings when the flying ants are out in full force. Those get more than a little gross. But all in all, I know I’ve got a better commute than most. And for that, today I’m having a Happy Friday!
Nontheless, perhaps the commuting grass is still greener elsewhere? After all look at the commutes of Mr 1500, and Holly, and Michelle… how many steps is it from your bedroom to your home office, guys?
How are you getting to work today? And how are you going to feel at the end of your commute?
* The only exception to this is Mr PoP’s 90-year-old uncle. He thinks I’m going to be hit by a car, and is forgetting the fact that I’ve already been hit by a car… when I was driving one. =/