Last night, I was having dinner with my girlfriend and we spoke about a topic that we rarely discuss—commuting.
She travels 15 miles to work and I cover 12 miles to my office. Not a big difference. But the difference is, she drives and I cycle.
Another difference is she hates commuting, whereas I love it.
We talked about it a lot, and when I got home I thought, “Why not blog about it?” Most of us commute, so I decided to do some research to understand what makes a good commute.
A company called ApartmentList conducted a survey among 18,000 commuters and found that 74 percent of them head to and from work by car, 13 percent by bus, 5 percent by cycle, 4 percent by carpool, 3 percent by subway and the remaining 1 percent by foot. With the majority of commuters traveling by car, it begs the question: Is commuting by car good or bad for you?
This infographic highlights the economic and emotional costs of commuting. It shows that while commuting by car can decrease productivity and is directly linked to obesity, walking and biking to work increases energy, physical activity and weight loss.
Driving is stressful, period.
Many of my colleagues refer to it as “the stress that doesn’t pay.” Driving is stressful, traffic is stressful and reporting late for work because you were driving in traffic is stressful, so they say. But I’ve found that cycling is the exact opposite.
By spending more time outdoors, I’m less prone to stress than those who spend their days inside a car. An outdoor trip every morning makes us feel relaxed and refreshed. By lowering our stress levels, cycling keeps us energetic and improves our self-esteem and confidence.
Driving is bad for our health.
In 2009, Brown University found that longer drives are directly linked to poor sleep and lack of exercise. One in three working professionals who drive at least 90 minutes a day suffer from frequent back and neck pain and poor sleep. People suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and obesity are often the most affected.
In comparison, cycling is a natural exercise that helps keep blood sugar level, blood pressure and cholesterol in check. Overweight people tend to burn more calories naturally by cycling every day. No need to join the gym, no need to go in for plastic surgery, no need to burn your pocket on weight loss supplements. Cycling allows us to keep our bodies in great shape.
Driving is bad for relationships.
Car commuting causes physical, mental and behavioral issues. According to a study conducted by Environment and Behavior, commuting by car causes enough stress to negatively impact a person’s social skills. On the other hand, cycling can easily cure these issues.
People who travel by car are said to be less social—attending fewer meetings, festivals and events. In comparison, those who commute by bike are said to have a better relationship with people.
Driving is an expensive affair.
In a survey conducted by cbsnews, it was found that car commuters spend an average of $2600 per year just on fuel. But not many realize that other expenses such as maintenance, repairs, part replacements, car service, insurance, parking, and toll are equally expensive. When added up, it is estimated that the average expenditure of a car commuter exceeds $5000. In comparison, people who commute by bike save 95 percent of that amount.
Driving is bad for the environment.
There has been growing concern about the earth’s ozone layer and one of the most worrying factors is the pollution caused by cars and other vehicles. Cars leads to air pollution, noise pollution and even water pollution, whereas cycles emit no gas, generate no noise and cause zero pollution. In fact, Paris runs a campaign in which people are encouraged to use only bikes instead of cars to commute to work for a single day every year. If we all start commuting by bike, the overall carbon emission will be cut down by millions of tons every year.
Driving is less predictable.
Driving is less predictable than cycling for two reasons: accidents and traffic.
Cycle commuting helps reduce the number of road accidents every year, a number that is considerably high among those who drive cars.
And in major cities, the morning traffic is very unpredictable. It’s also the main reason why employees arrive to work late. Cycling offers commuters the freedom to find the gaps and escape the stressful traffic jams.
The truth is, there are many way to get to work. While most people still commute by car, my hope is that cycling will attract more commuters in the near future.
So consider the benefits to people and the environment and join me in pedaling to the office, sooner rather than later.
Author: Joshna Joe
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Javier Calvo/Unsplash