happiness expert — best job ever — and economist at the University of British Columbia has determined that the world’s happiest cities are those with the most cyclists.
It might be time to get that bike out of the shed.
John Helliwell shared his findings with The Globe and Mail’s Sarah Hampson. He pointed out that Denmark is often ranked as one of the happiest places in the world — “In Copenhagen, one in three people cycles to work or school,” Hampson wrote — with 11 national cycle routes to explore.
The “happiest city in America,” San Luis Obispo, California, has bike lanes aplenty, too:
“The nearly 11 square mile city currently hosts 34 miles of on-street bike lanes, a bicycle boulevard, bicycle corrals and about six miles of dedicated bicycle path, with more coming down the pipeline,” KCET reports.
[See also: Why cycling is an amazing way to get in shape]
Montreal’s another happy city. Yep, it’s bike-friendly. As is Vancouver.
According to a 2010 Stats Can survey of 6.988 respondents, Canadian commuters who used “active transportation” — the term includes both walking and cycling — were overwhelmingly more satisfied with their daily commute than those who drove or took public transit.
Sixty-six per cent of active-transportation users considered themselves “very satisfied” with their commute, whereas only 25 and 32 per cent of transit and private-vehicle users, respectively, felt the same way.
Only 6 per cent of cyclists and walkers were dissatisfied with their commute to work.
Why so satisfied? Aside from the obvious guess — they live close enough to work it’s in walking distance — one author claims that biking is meditative:
“Within 10 minutes of being on a bike, things that are immediately worrying you – that piece of work you haven’t finished – have been dismissed,” said Robert Penn, author of It’s All About the Bike: The Pursuit of Happiness on Two Wheels.
“Ride for 45 minutes and you hardly know what you were thinking about and then something else drops in – a line from a poem or something your child said.”
Other bike-riding benefits include weight loss, improvement to health, financial and environmental rewards, and, perhaps the greatest happiness-booster, having fun on the road.