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GRE Argument: Blue Highway Traffic Jams - With A Free Essay Review

Prompt: “The following appeared in a letter to the editor of a local newspaper. ‘Commuters complain that increased rush-hour traffic on Blue Highway between the suburbs and the city center has doubled their commuting time. The favored proposal of the motorists' lobby is to widen the highway, adding an additional lane of traffic. But last year's addition of a lane to the nearby Green Highway was followed by a worsening of traffic jams on it. A better alternative is to add a bicycle lane to Blue Highway. Many area residents are keen bicyclists. A bicycle lane would encourage them to use bicycles to commute, and so would reduce rush-hour traffic rather than fostering an increase.’ Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.”

In this argument, the author suggests that the rush-hour traffic can be solved by adding a bicycle lane to Blue Highway instead widening the current land. However, the author fails to address some details that can affect the validity of the suggestion.

First of all, the author implies that addition of a motor lane to the current highway is not a good solution, because this proposal resulted in a worsening of traffic jams on Green Highway. However, it is fundamentally true that the result of one case does not always predict the result of another case. In this case, we need to know what caused the worsening of traffic jams after widening Green highway, and whether Blue Highway has the same problems as Green Highway does or not. If the worsening of traffic on Green highway is because drivers tend to drive faster after addition of a lane, then, governments could still consider adding a motor lane with a more stringent speed limit. If the worsening of traffic jams on Green Highway is coincidental, or completely irrelevant to adding a new lane, for instance most of these accidents are due to drunk driving, then, Blue Highway can still consider adding a motor lane, because the worsening of traffic has nothing to do with adding a new motor lane.

Moveover, the author claims that there are many keen cyclists, and people will use bicycles to commute after adding a bicycle lane, thus adding a bicycle lane could solve rush-hour traffic problem. Although there are many bicyclists, we need to know how many people among these keen cyclists are willing to use bicycles to commute. It is possible that many of these keen cyclists prefer driving over biking to work, then, it is conceivable that only a small number of people would use the bicycle lane, while motor lanes are heavily used, and this would not resolve the rush-hour traffic on Blue Highway. The alternative possibility can weaken the author’s suggestion.

Overall, in order to make the author’s suggestion more convincing, the author needs to show that there is a signicant number of residents willing to bike to work if a new bicycle lane is added, and Blue Highway has the same potential problems as Green Highway which can result in a worsening of traffic after adding a motor lane.



This is a fairly straightforward prompt, and both of your arguments are reasonable. Your reference to "these accidents" is confusing, since there is no prior mention of accidents. You are speculating there, in any case, about an implausible scenario. A plausible scenario might be that an increase of traffic led to an increase of traffic jams. Such an increase in traffic could be a result of the widening of the road encouraging more people to use the highway, or it could be a result of an increase in the number of commuters in the area. Evidence about the latter would seem to be the kind of thing one would need both with respect to commuters served by Green and those served by Blue. (The fact that there is increased rush-hour traffic on Blue suggests the possibility that the number of commuters is increasing.)

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: uofr6460


Can you please give me a score from 0-6? Thanks!
June,19 2012

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