- Adding amenities to improve commuting experiences produces numerous benefits for everyone.
- Biking remains the champ for bringing the most happiness.
Some good news recently came from a University of Minnesota study that confirms what many local riders know. Commuters of all types—motorists, bikers, and pedestrians—are happier and have better and more efficient commuting experiences when transportation officials add amenities such as bike lanes, better bus stops and lighting, and safety features.
Unsurprisingly, the study found that biking brought the most happiness when compared with other modes of transportation.
Improving commuters’ happiness might not seem like a suitable goal for transportation planners, but the added amenities, including aesthetic features, improve safety and contribute to a smoother traffic flow that reduces congestion.
Prior to the recent pandemic shutdown, however, Americans spent on average 70 minutes a day commuting and dissatisfaction with commutes was high. The Minnesota study found that adding amenities to improve the experience is just as important to the overall experience as adding new roads that move additional traffic.
Minneapolis seems to have taken the idea to heart. It has a project to refurbish one busy corridor to enhance comfort and safety for pedestrians, transit users, and vehicles. This will involve new pavement, bike lanes, wider sidewalks, better lighting and landscaping, enhanced crosswalks, and improved bus stops to address known difficult conditions. In another part of the city, bus stops will be moved back several feet from the street to improve sight lines for bicyclists, pedestrians. and drivers. In addition, bike lanes will be routed behind transit shelters rather than along the curb to reduce jams between cyclists and pedestrians.
FABB had long advocated for new infrastructure and amenities for bikers (and walkers) to improve the commuting experience for everyone. We also have let officials know that more and better bicycling leads to happier and healthier communities, which has positive impacts across a range of government goals to Fairfax County a great place to live. We encourage all of our transportation officials to study Minnesota’s example and apply their ideas to future transportation planning.