Bicycling Your Way to Greater Happiness

Want to see your most calm and collected friends totally lose it? Put them behind the wheel of a car in the city during rush hour.

Traffic like this is enough to make anyone well up with anger and frustration

It’s a joke, but it’s not. Have you and or your friends gotten behind the wheel in traffic recently and started shouting obscenities, making (uh) gestures, and laying on the horn? Anger in cars is such a prevalent experience that the satire experts at The Onion wrote a 2004 piece about the anger-powered car. Gasoline was only around $2 per gallon back then, and of course 2004 was pre-Recession– before people lost homes and jobs en masse and began flocking to the cities! Think how much more power those cars would have now.
 

Anger and Aggression Cause Real Stress For Drivers

Adding to the, “it’s funny but it’s uncomfortable” air about cars and anger, according to AAA, aggressive driving and road rage behaviors account for over half of all fatal car crashes– a full 66% according to SafeMotorist.com! AAA further found that a single aggressive act can trigger escalating responses from other drivers. Another study by Dr.Driving.org concluded that 56% of men and 44% of women get road rage every day (although that seems rather low considering that it feels like every time I get into a car with anyone, that person grows major stress horns). Just to ice off that cake? 37% of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm. Um, yikes.

The Urban Cycling Solution to Traffic-Related Stress

Want to see even your most unlikely friends go nuts with joy? Put them on bicycles! It’s a joke, but it’s not: Even my most proper friends get super excited to do the big group rides through town, and I seriously think putting my boyfriend on a bicycle when he came to visit was a deciding factor in his moving to Portland from San Diego. While stress causes automobile drivers’ heart rates to soar above 145 beats per minute while just sitting there, cyclists’ heart rates are raised to pump more blood to working muscles. This causes higher levels of physical fitness, better sleep, clearer skin, improved lung function, 20% more energy, and of course, tons of money saved– all of which will actually make you happier!

Urban cyclists jumping for joy. Photo credit: kharied – Flickr

Not to mention, for the fabulous girl, getting both the aerobic and anaerobic exercise of cycling increases circulation just under the skin, optimizes collagen production, and flushes out toxins for fewer wrinkles and a more youthful appearance. If that wouldn’t make you happy, maybe you should take your chances with the emotionally-disordered agro road-ragers that cause 1,500 incidents per year and over 218 murders.

Bicycles Make You Happy!

You can lower your anxiety and stress levels and gain happiness by simply removing yourself from the situation and getting on your bicycle. But it’s not just getting yourself away from the angst: Anger may not yet be able to power a car, but aerobic and anaerobic respiration has carried cyclists to a happier place for nearly 200 years.

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