Commuting by bike shows cyclists gain more satisfaction and enjoyment from their cycle to work than those travelling by car or public transport.
For many people forced to work from home during lockdown not having to commute was widely reported as being one of the biggest bonuses of the situation, but if you are cycling to work the journey is a pleasure not a chore.
Cycling is finally at the forefront of political thought and planning as a key tool in tackling congestion, environmental issues and the health of our nation and getting more people to cycle to work is part of that plan. Invariably, when it comes to making behaviour change people are more responsive to factors that have a personal benefit, and what could be more motivating than feeling happier and more in control? Here are the four main reasons, referenced by the Journal of Transport and Health in September 2019, explaining why cyclists are the ‘happiest’ commuters.
Cycling puts you in control
Riding a bike puts you in control of your time, you can leave when you want and your arrival time is predictable as traffic queues won’t slow you down. A bike gives you a flexible and reliable way to commute, no more getting stuck in traffic queues or endlessly staring at departure boards waiting for your bus or train to arrive. Knowing there won’t be any hold-ups removes all the stress from your daily journey allowing you to relax and enjoy the ride.
Riding a bike gives you time to enjoy the out of doors
Most of us would like more leisure time and one way to win more ‘me’ time is by turning your stressful commute into something more fun. With some research and imagination most people can find a route to work that offers moments of peace and natural beauty, time to prepare yourself for the busy day ahead or unwind on the way home. Look for routes that take you through parks in the city, quiet country lanes or protected cycle paths for the perfect way to set yourself up for a day at work.
Feel good effects of exercise
Exercise is good for us, we all know that. It is good for our mental and physical health, helps trim the waist line and strengthen our heart and lungs. By getting your exercise on the commute you are saving yourself time, as there is no need to go to the gym or out for a run, when you get home. In the mornings the wonderful post-exercise surge of energy will help you to be more productive in the office and you will arrive home relaxed and ready to make the most of your free time.
A smile and wave is a gift that makes both the recipient and the giver feel happier and being on your bike gives more opportunities for these small social interactions.
A cheery hello to a dog walker, a wave to a cyclist going the other way, or a brief comment of ‘nice bike,’ waiting for the lights to change, spreads the warmth of human connection. It’s hard to be grumpy with a smile on your face and the wind in your hair.
When it comes to the governments new plans on cycling, spreading the message that cyclists are happier could help motivate more people to ride and understanding the importance of enjoyment to behaviour change is a key part of planning. Instead of focusing purely on safety, new cycling infrastructure should also enhance the physical, social and psychological pleasures of cycling. Cycling environments that support sociable riding and relaxed engagement with natural landscapes and urban design features will increase everyone’s enjoyment and encourage even more people to get on their bikes.