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May 29, 2014 06:27 PM EDT

Do Bicycling Make People Happier? (VIDEO)


A person's mode of transportation may affect how they feel, according to a recent study.

Researchers from Clemson University in South Carolina found that emotions like happiness, pain, stress, sadness and fatigue vary during travel and by travel mode.

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

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

Morris found 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," Morris said.

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