Why Transit Riders Give Terrible Directions | vice.com

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If I asked you how far you live from work, and you replied, "It’s only about 25 minutes by train," then you're not really supplying a distance. It's relative, excusably typical, and more likely part of an ongoing sales pitch about your neighborhood's distance from my reality. It's "not that far," you add. But your crappy direction-giving might just be the result of your passive passengerhood. 
According to new research, drivers, walkers, and bicyclists will generally provide us with more useful directions than transit riders. Published in Urban Planning, "Going Mental" shows that cognitively active travelers, regardless of commute by foot or car, tend to trump cognitively passive travelers, (those who frequent public buses and trains) in perceiving distance. Questioning cognitively active, passive, and mixed travelers about distances from a survey site to LA's city hall, the research demonstrated that the passive bus and subway riders have less of a grip on distance. Actively cognitive travelers, according to the results, were more likely to integrate street names in their directions, and also exhibited a sharper understanding of distances.