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Study finds mode of transportation affects how we feel

What mode of transportation makes you happiest?

Clemson researchers investigated how emotions like happiness, pain, stress, sadness and fatigue vary during travel and by travel mode in a new study published in the journal Transportation.

Utilizing data from the American Time Use Survey, collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the researchers were able to determine the average mood felt by people during different types of travel.

"We found that people are in the best mood while they are bicycling compared to any other mode of transportation," said Eric Morris, lead author on the study and assistant professor in Clemson's planning, development and preservation department.

Morris said that bicyclists tend to be a self-selected group who are very enthusiastic about their mode of transportation.

"Bicyclists are generally younger and physically healthy, which are traits that happier people usually possess," he said.

Next happiest are car passengers and then car drivers. Bus and train riders experience the most negative emotions, though a small part of this can be attributed to the fact that mass transit is disproportionately used for commuting to and from work, according to the researchers.

Their findings suggest that bicycle use may have benefits beyond the typically cited health and transportation ones, and that improving transit riders' emotional experience may 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.

Contact: Eric Morris
Clemson University

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