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Commute by car and go crazy

by Richard Masoner

According to this LA Times article, sitting stuck in traffic can be bad for your mental health.

Dr. Laura Pinegar, a Long Beach psychologist who treats depression and panic disorders, hears a growing number of complaints about traffic anxiety in her practice.

“If you’re stuck in traffic, there’s a feeling of being out of control,” she said. “You can be at a dead standstill on the freeway, but amped up from the day, thinking, ‘I gotta get home. I gotta get the kids. What if I don’t get to day care before it closes?’ “

The antidote? Grist prescribes a bicycle, taken twice daily for good mental health.

 
Burley nomad 229

9 Responses to “Commute by car and go crazy”

  1. matthew booth says:

    I’ve only been commuting several days and already I can feel my normal highly reactive anger starting to go away. I dont get as mad as easy and I am more relaxed through out the day. I also get tired a lot sooner than when I was more sedentary (which is good, i was having trouble sleeping).

    My commute is almost 20 miles round trip.

  2. Wes says:

    Judging by the reactions of some of the people in cars around me when I ride the bike I’d believe it.

    Yesterday on the way home from work I had someone in an SUV give me the finger as they passed me (I was in the right lane of a four lane street, there’s no bike lane so I take the inside lane for safety). At first I was a little upset, but then I was confused. Why give me a finger? I’m on a friggin’ bike here. No damage to you, just pedaling along.

    Cars erase our humanity (or sense of it) and make people crazy.

  3. matthew booth says:

    Wes – I definately have notice SUV’s and larger sized consumer trucks (lifted Fords, etc…) tend to be a lot less considerate of people on two wheels. Maybe the old “compensating” joke isn’t a joke after all…

  4. Rick says:

    I get pretty crabby in the car too. It’s not fun. It’s boring. The only thing I miss about being in a car is the loud music.

  5. Noah says:

    I actually had a pair of construction workers in a big-huge pickup hollar at me, asking what kind of mileage I got on my bike. Perhaps it was a complement. Perhaps it was ribbing. I told them “Thirty Miles Per Ham Sandwich!” and they got a good laugh and wished me well. Not all lifted trucks are full of haters.

    I have noticed a lot of anxiety on the road, lately. Life is much simpler on a bike. It’s a shame more people haven’t caught on.

  6. Cafn8 says:

    It’s true, driving does make people crazy, and this morning is a great example. It was a beautiful cool, sunny morning and I was fiending to ride to work. However, my wife, slower to embrace cycling for transportation, needed a ride to the train station.

    So I decided I’d just drive. As it turns out, today would have been an even better day than most to ride, as last night’s storm brought down quite a few trees, blocked streets and knocked out traffic lights. It was a traffic nightmare, spent zig-zagging through a maze of blocked streets and sitting in long lines of traffic. On a bike it would have been free sailing the whole way. Driving, though, my nerves are shot, I’m tense and my hands are shaky, yet I somehow still feel groggy like I need another cup of coffee. Bike withdrawl, maybe?

    On another note, I’ve noticed that the worst anti-bicycle driving habits come from expensive cars. Again, a generalization, but it’s from experience.

  7. “Consider the man on horseback, and I have been a man on horseback for most of my life.  Well, mostly he is a good man, but there is a change in him as soon as he mounts.  Every man on horseback is an arrogant man, however gentle he may be on foot.  The man in the automobile is one thousand times as dangerous.  I tell you, it will engender absolute selfishness in mankind if the driving of automobiles becomes common.  It will breed violence on a scale never seen before.  It will mark the end of the family as we know it, the three or four generations living happily in one home.  It will destroy the sense of neighborhood and the true sense of Nation.  It will create giantized cankers of cities, false opulence of suburbs, ruinized countryside, and unhealthy conglomerations of specialized farming and manufacturing.  It will make every man a tyrant.. 

    ~R.A. Lafferty, written in the late 1800s, as quoted in Adbusters, Spring 1996

    I think this quote is fabricated, but I agree with everything it says.

  8. Fritz says:

    R.A. Lafferty was a sci fi writer. The quote comes from the 1970 short story “Interurban Queen” which is an alternative history story in which the automobile doesn’t dominate every aspect of our society.

  9. PushingWind says:

    This is true! I personally become a different person when inside a car. Although a better driver since my view is from outside a rolling metal cage. My wife likes to think that her rolling “near” stop is an actual stop. Still working on that one. On the rare occasion when I must drive to the light rail, I get tense and antsy. The best thing for sanity and peace of mind is the two-wheeled therapist.

    A friend paraphrased our conversation a few years ago by saying, “Mark, you think all problems can be fixed with more bikes.”

    It’s still true.

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