health

Research has found yet another good reason to ride a bike to work.

We’ve all been stuck on a bus or in a car and seen cyclists whiz past us, pedalling along in their Lycra— smug because they’re not only fitter than us, but they’ll probably arrive at the office a good 30 minutes ahead of us.

They may even feel better than the rest of us, having gotten their exercise out of the way. Plus, endorphins.

Now a study has confirmed the benefits of cycling to work, concluding that cyclists arrive at work on time and feeling the more energised than those who walk, drive or catch public transport.

Listen: Bec Sparrow and Robin Bailey on The Well talk about exercise. (Post continues after audio.)

A study of 5000 students at staff at McGill University for Transportation Research concluded cycling to be the most reliable and “energising” way to get to work.

While most of us are aware that a brisk walking pace will get us to work sooner than most transportation options in Australian capital cities, the most interesting part of cycling as opposed to walking and public transport was the effect it has on work performance. I suppose being on a bike does avoid that inevitable pause for a coffee and a pastry…

It’s not surprising that riding a bike is most likely to get you to work on time when compared to other forms of transport such as buses, trains and driving, particularly in Australia’s busiest capital cities where the road system is struggling to cope with peak hour commuters.

Irritatingly, at this time of the year at least 20 minutes is shaved off travel times around capital cities, demonstrating that our road system works… as long as half of all commuters are away on holidays.

Cycling is more punctual and energising than walking, buses and trains. Image: Sliding Doors, Paramount Pictures

The study also found that:

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Drivers have the least energy at work;

Bus riders are most likely to be late;

Cyclists are most likely to be on time and energised. Lucky.

The study authors say based on their conclusions, policy makers should "consider developing strategies that aim to increase the mode satisfaction of commuters."

Perhaps by making a whole lot of fancy bike lanes like Sydney Mayor Clover Moore — who, despite years of criticism, is persevering with her grand plan to have us all cycling to work — the habit will eventually catch on. Once cycle lanes are complete, Moore plans to introduce a bike rental system for workers. (Post continues after gallery.)

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Workplaces will definitely need to install showers if that's where we're headed.

"Encouraging the habit of commuting by bicycle may also lead to improved performance at work or school," the study authors wrote.

This makes me wonder if the kids should be pedaling to school, too — although have you seen how big their backpacks are these days, particularly when they start high school?

Overall, cycling is better than cars, buses and trains — but I suspect that says more about our transportation systems comprised of clogged roads, poorly designed train lines and inadequate bus services than it does about cycling.

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