May 16, 2012

Stress and the City: Study Reveals Transport Woes and Commuting are the Biggest Cause of Urbanitis

LONDON, May 16, 2012 – Zipcar, Inc. (Nasdaq: ZIP), the world’s leading car sharing network, today released its City Index revealing that the stresses and strains of urban living is leading to the spread of “Urbanitis”; a wide-spread social condition prevalent in the UK’s major cities, which manifests as a driving desire to challenge the status quo of city living.

Zipcar’s study of over 2,000 British adults reveals that transport and travel is a major cause of the Urbanitis syndrome caused by a combination of factors, ranging from the stress of the daily commute, long working hours, pollution and the cost of city living. Unsurprisingly, with major traffic disruptions expected this summer, traffic and congestion tops the list as the biggest stresses of city living, with over half (54%) bemoaning it as a source of stress, closely followed by the sheer number of people (40%), noise (34%) and the ever-rising cost of city living (33%).

Triggers for Urbanitis: the top commuter stresses and annoyances

The morning commute took the top spot as the biggest cause of anxiety with more than a third (36%) of those surveyed admitting that they feel stressed by the time they’d reached their desks. A staggering 81% of respondents report having been inconvenienced as a result of other people’s behaviour on their daily commute.

Top stresses for public transport commuters include inconsiderate commuters listening to loud music (29%), people barging past to get a seat (19%) and sitting next to someone with bad personal hygiene (19%). Commuters eating smelly food on public transport (11%) was also revealed as a bugbear.

Combatting Urbanitis: commuter tactics

Zipcar’s City Index also sheds light on the tactics commuters employ to minimise stress on their daily commute. Almost one in two (44%) of those questioned have changed seats to get away from the cause of their frustrations. Nearly one in four (23%) admitted to putting on their headphones to drown out the city noise, whilst only about one in seven (15%) have been brave enough to tell someone off for anti-social behaviour.

Mark Walker, General Manager, Zipcar UK says, “For many of us, the daily commute and traffic is a fact of life, but if we are smart about how we use all the services available to us, modern life can be less stressful and more fun.

“Whilst public transport is often the most convenient and efficient way to travel around a city, there are some trips where driving just makes sense, like when you’re doing a big shop, or when you’re heading out of town on business or escaping the city for a weekend away. However, with the ever rising cost of car ownership, owning and running a car can be a stressful experience in the city. Which is why becoming a member of a car club like Zipcar is a smarter option.

“Car clubs are the antidote to woes about traffic and worries about the environment, as every Zipcar takes 15 privately owned vehicles off the road. So, not only do they complement public transport, but compared to the cost of owning a car, members can expect to save over £3,000 a year – and that extra cash alone can only be good for your wellbeing.”1

Psychologist Mamta Saha comments: “The research shows us that across the UK, the daily frustrations of urban living could lead some to be diagnosed with Urbanitis. Often individuals do not reflect upon the psychological build-up of these frustrations and they then manifest in forms of anxiety and stress. The accumulation of annoyances can sometimes lead to a less productive and efficient individual. Making minor changes to how you live and adjusting the ‘load’ can help preserve energy by removing, or at least making daily irritations bearable, and so helping to reduce the symptoms of Urbanitis”

Car club Zipcar is setting the pace in the Campaign Against Urbanitis. In London alone, it has more than 1,500 cars conveniently parked all over the city, typically less than a 5-minutes walk from your front door or office. You can use their apps to book the car of your choice for the time you need: an hour, a day, a week; and you access the cars using a smartcard – you’re totally in control.

Walker adds, “We’ve all had times when city living can just feel a bit overwhelming; and simply getting around or getting out of town can be a major hassle. Zipcar is leading in the charge to help combat Urbanitis, by effectively providing a whole new branch of flexible public transport, which makes certain trips easier – be they practical, like shopping, or fun, like a day at the coast. We believe the freedom our members enjoy when they get behind the wheel of a Zipcar is helping to champion a better way of life.”

Psychologist Mamta Saha’s top tips to combat Urbanitis

Travel smarter

If and when your job allows, time your commute so you avoid rush hour. This summer, why not try getting in and leaving work early, and give yourself time to enjoy the lighter and warmer evenings – it’ll do wonders for your health and wellbeing. If that’s not possible, why listen to some calming music to help you to relax and clear your mind before you begin and when you end your day at work.

Familiarise yourself with city’s transport network

Unlock a new set of travelling possibilities by getting to know your city by other modes of transport. There are also some really great apps which enable you to plan journeys, combining different modes of travel including by foot, bike, bus and tram. Walking and cycling are great ways to stay healthy. Being above ground, while riding the bus and tram, means you’ll have to time catch-up on work and social admin.

Allow extra time for travelling

Building 10-15 minutes extra time into your commute, will help you feel less stressed particularly if your journey is delayed for any unforeseen circumstances. It also allows you the opportunity to commute at your own pace.

Invest in some on the go entertainment

Reading material whether it be in hardcopy of electronic format, and music can help you escape the humdrum of the daily commute. If you choose to drown out the city noise by listening to music, make sure you invest in a pair of noise reduction headphones, so your music doesn’t inconvenience other commuters and cause them Urbanitis.

Join a car club

For those occasions when public transport doesn’t quite work for you or business, car clubs like Zipcar are a convenient and cost-effective alternative. Once you become a member, bookings are easily made in a matter of minutes, either using the Zipcar app on your smartphone or online at:

To find out more about how Zipcar works visit; or to join the Campaign Against Urbanitis visit and / or follow @ZipcarUK on Twitter.

Notes to Editors

Research carried out with a sample of 2,000 respondents, aged 18+ on 5 April 2012 by One Poll, who is a member of ESOMAR and employ members of the MRS

1 Savings Calculation Breakdown:

  • The average car club household drives 2,400 miles per year.

  • We rounded this to 2,000 miles and compared the cost of that usage in a private vehicle with the cost on Zipcar. (In practice, the same households would drive double the mileage in their privately-owned vehicles, so this is a conservative estimate).

  • The cost of using Zipcar is taken from a typical annual usage pattern of 15 reservations which add up to 2,000 miles per year, using Zipcar’s online price calculator. This gives a figure of £1,206 per year.

  • The cost of private ownership is the average of two figures calculated from the latest data published by the AA and RAC, which is £4,368.

  • Therefore, the annual savings for the average Zipcar Member are £4,368 - £1,206 = £3,162, and the average monthly saving is £3,162 / 12 = £264.

  • · To get a hypothetical figure for all London, we multiplied the individual saving by the number of cars on the road in London (Number of Licensed Vehicles, Greater London Authority 2011) £3,162 x 2.6 million = £8.2bn: 12% of this is £1bn, and 1% is £80 million.

2 “Typical” car club members drive less than 2,400 miles pa (Source: Carplus)

About Zipcar

In the UK, Zipcar operates in London, Bristol, Cambridge and Oxford. In London, there are over 1,700 vehicles available for use at convenient locations across the Capital. Members benefit from: 40 miles of fuel, insurance, maintenance, roadside assistance, road tax and the Congestion Charge all included. Zipcar offers 11 makes and models of self-service vehicles by the hour or day to residents and businesses looking for an alternative to the high costs and hassles of owning a car. More information is available at

Photos and b-roll footage are also available for media purposes.

For further information: Josie Whittle, Weber Shandwick, +44 0207-067-0645, [email protected]