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New study may have found unexpected key to improving society: 'The only variable that was a significant positive predictor'

"These findings are significant for policy and planning."

"These findings are significant for policy and planning."

Photo Credit: iStock

A new study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology and posted on ScienceDirect discovered a link between "orientation towards the common good" and one somewhat surprising factor: opting to ride a bicycle instead of driving a car.

The study, written by Harald Schuster, Jolanda van der Noll, and Anette Rohman, uses data from annual surveys of a representative sample of the German population between 2014 and 2019. 

The authors established that there are four facets of orientation toward the common good: political participation, social participation in organizations, neighborhood solidarity, and neighborly helpfulness. 

"Cycling was the only variable that was a significant positive predictor for all four facets of orientation towards the common good," they wrote. "These findings are significant for policy and planning because the benefits of cycling over driving are more profound and sustainable than previously thought."

As most people already know, riding a bike is a much more environmentally conscious way to get around than driving. As the UCLA Transportation page puts it, "Human-powered and not reliant on gasoline, bicycles don't add pollution to the atmosphere. With a typical passenger vehicle emitting almost five metric tons of carbon dioxide a year from burning fuel, biking cuts back on fuel consumption." The page also points out that biking cuts down on noise pollution.

But it is certainly interesting — though perhaps not surprising — to learn that people who consistently make one big choice that benefits the health of our planet are also more likely to be drawn to other community-oriented behaviors.

This is, of course, not to say that you must ride a bike to be oriented toward the common good. Cycling is not an option for everyone — particularly people with certain physical disabilities. However, the fact that the study was able to draw a link between this one habit and an overall orientation toward the common good is food for thought.

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