Study: Cycling Benefits the Common Good

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By Savannah Cottam — A new study by Schuster, H., Van der Noll., & Rohmann, A. in Hagen, Germany examines how cycling plays a role in the orientation toward the common good. Orientation toward the common good describes how people feel responsible and willing to help others, as well as abide by basic rules and participate in social and political life (Schiefer and Van der Noll., 2016). In this particular study scientists hypothesize “that in an urban context, people who use bicycles experience a greater orientation towards the common good than those who use cars.” To test this hypothesis a sample of 410 participants in Germany surveyed from 2014-2019 were asked how often they biked vs drove, as well as questions that rated their political and social participation, local helpfulness, and neighborhood solidarity.

Students at Pacific Heritage Academy out for their community ride. Photo by Bike Utah

Cycling, as opposed to all other variables recorded in the study — homeownership, personal income, education, and sex — was the only variable that showed a positive effect and was significant in all four models tested. The authors conclude that cycling, rather than driving, is associated with participatory activities, helpfulness, and solidarity in the neighborhood. Cars reduce an individual’s direct contact with their environment. The direct experience that cycling has to the neighborhood environment leads to a stronger emotional bond within society. This emotional attachment of people to their neighborhood is considered a mediator for civic activities (Stefaniak et al., 2017). And thus, cycling gives rise to connectivity and orientation toward the common good in cities.

References

  1. Schuster, H., Van der Noll., & Rohmann, A. (2023). “Orientation towards the Common Good in Cities: The Role of Individual Urban Mobility Behavior.” Journal of Environmental Psychology, Academic Press, 2 Sept. 2023, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494423001731.
  2. Schiefer, D., & Van der Noll, J. (2016). The essentials of social cohesion: A literature review. Social Indicators Research, 132(2), 579–603. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11205-016-1314-5
  3. Stefaniak, A., Bilewicz, M., & Lewicka, M. (2017). The merits of teaching local history: Increased place attachment enhances civic engagement and social trust. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 51, 217–225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.Jenvp.2017.03.014

 

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