Is biking to work making you a happier person, or an angrier one?

Background Reading

Summary

Posted by Kara B
September 28, 2012

Source: The ChainLink

© iStockphoto.com
Scientists say they’re learning more about how to keep stress from damaging mental health.

So – I love riding my bike to work (which happens to be in downtown chicago).

However, I often arrive at work angry and/or sad and/or shaken by the behavior of clueless, distracted, thoughtless, reckless, etc. drivers…and sometimes pedestrians…and sometimes other bikers.

My assumption has always been that riding to work wakes me up, and energizes me, and makes me happier, but this morning I was thinking: Am I confusing “angry” with “awake”?

Does starting the day off in fighter mode change our days (and how we behave ourselves) for the worse?

anyone else have these thoughts on their way to work?

There have been studies which link Stress and Anger. According to the Better Health Channel:

Anger is a powerful emotion. Uncontrolled anger may cause increased anxiety, high blood pressure and headaches, and trigger fights or abuse. Anger management strategies include regular exercise and learning how to relax.

My guess is that being subjected to the higher stresses of urban cycling that people are indeed quite likely to feel a greater degree of stress and the resultant anger that often accompanies it. What is quite interesting however is that urban cyclists are constantly trying to convince themselves and others that riding the mean streets of the city is not dangerous. Yet with every death of a cyclist while biking there is a general gnashing of teeth and a display of understandable anger. But denying that the stress of getting to work is not present seems silly.

The reason that the “Think of this as a Missed Connection” thread persists on ChainLink is precisely because it helps people who are feeling stressed on any given day relieve some of it by venting. But consider this. We are ambivalent about demanding that people ride with helmets in place. We somehow believe that asking people to use helmets will convey the notion that cycling is dangerous. But the same folks who make this argument are the same ones who contribute to the Missed Connection thread.

Now I ask you. If you were a newbie considering riding in the city which would be more frightening, having someone suggest that you wear a helmet for protection or someone showing you the link to the Missed Connection thread? Just saying, it warrants some thought.

No amount of blathering about how safe and healthful cycling can be will overcome (for many people) the “incredibly raw footage” the Gabe’s thread provides. Add to this monstrosity the threads about riders killed in transit and you have a recipe for pure terror. We are sometimes our own worst enemies in the war to gain acceptance of what is truly a very dangerous activity.

It would be better to tell people the truth and then equip them with the strategies of Vehicular Cycling than blow smoke up their dresses concerning the blissful nature of protected bike lanes. Let’s get real, here. Cycling is deadly and we all know this. But there are things you can do to minimize your chances of being a statistic. And that is where we should focus our efforts, not merely on changing legislation which in the final analysis only makes it possible to collect death benefits. What is far more important is saving lives in the first instance.