File photo: 9/8/06
Todd Litman of the Victoria Transportation Policy Institute (VTPI) — “an independent research organization dedicated to developing innovative and practical solutions to transportation problems” — released a study yesterday that compares people’s satisfaction with their daily commutes.
Litman found that people with short, human-powered commutes were happier than their transit or motor vehicle-using counterparts.
His findings were released in a 37-page report titled, “Valuing Transit Service Quality Improvements: Considering Comfort and Convenience In Transport Project Evaluation” (view PDF here).
Litman found that length of commutes was a key indicator of satisfaction (shorter commutes = happier people) and that the traditional practice of increasing highway capacity to speed them up is not a cost effective solution. From the study,
“conventional analysis favors highway expansion to increase traffic speeds, while more comprehensive analysis favors alternative modes to improve comfort and convenience.”
Here’s an analysis of the report from Clark Williams-Derry of the Sightline Institute:
“…the happiest of all commuters get to work under their own power. Bikers express the highest levels of satisfaction, and least dissatisfaction, with their morning and afternoon treks. Walkers are close behind. I’m not sure if that’s because walkers and bikers tend to have shorter commutes, or because they tend to have pleasant or stress-free routes (otherwise, they’d choose another way to get to work). Either way, it seems like a good way to make people happier with their commute is — if possible — to give them a safe and quick way to get to work under their own power.”
So the answer is simple. Build safer and more efficient bikeways and we’ll have a city full of happy people.