Cycle-commuting the secret* to a happy life says New Economic Foundation report

Cycling to work makes you more content, but will policy-makers take note? *Well, one of them

by Mark Appleton   February 28, 2011  

Commuting in Bristol © Jonny Gawler

Given the choice, would you rather be happy or wealthy? Well, if you're a cycle commuter, it seems, you've got a headstart to happines, because far from triggering heart attacks as erroneously reported by the Daily Mail last week, is one factor that has been shown to increase an individual’s overall sense of happiness according to the New Economics Foundation (NEF), a think-tank whose remit includes finding new ways to measure social and economic well-being

You might think the two go hand-in-hand but research clearly shows that in recent decades increased prosperity in the UK and US has not given rise to a corresponding  increase in levels of happiness.

Researching what makes people happy is seen as important as it can help policy-makers to decide where to allocate resources in order to improve the overall sense of well-being within the population, reports the BBC's Mark Easton.

An NEF report entitled; Measuring our progress, The power of well-being, states: “A wealth of literature from researchers studying stress and related effects reveals ‘persistent and significant costs associated with a long commute through heavy traffic’.

“By contrast, studies comparing the experiences of commuting by bicycle and car report that cyclists find their mode of transport at least as flexible and convenient as those who use cars, with lower stress and greater feelings of freedom, relaxation and excitement.”

The report continues: “Merely presenting this evidence is unlikely to change car drivers’ current preferences. However, it may provide policy-makers with further confidence that, in taking steps to reduce personal car use, people will in time come to view the change as positive, when well-being benefits are experienced.”

Let’s hope those policy-makers do indeed take note of this kind of report which suggests that an increase in cycle commuting would be a relatively simple way to increase the overall sense of well-being of the UK population.

But perhaps it will take a Government that sees votes in cycling to fully commit to making the UK a safer, easier country in which to ride a bike, particularly as a commuter.
 

3 user comments

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I was hoping that with both the PM and mayor of London being cyclists, and in the same party, that we'd see some nice things done for cycling. So far they've abolished Cycling England.

A least I know that my local MP, Julian Huppert (Cambridge), is on side.

Maybe politicians think that if they do anything radical for cycling, then the general public will think them weird.

(Great photo of the car stopped in the ASL, BTW.)

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1374 posts]
28th February 2011 - 14:35

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Yes - I'm happy cycling but unhappy with motor vehicles ignoring the ASLs. City of London Police cycling officer's response to question about enforcement 'yeah, you're right - we should enforce that law, we just don't.' That makes me unhappy.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
1st March 2011 - 17:11

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Having just started a PHD in positive motivation and flow. I can concur with the findings. We as individuals we have greater feeling of happiness or contentidness when our focus in to intrinsic motivation as opposed to extrinsic motivations. Each of has a drive to develop autonomy, mastery and purpose.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [119 posts]
4th March 2011 - 18:02

5 Likes