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英语阅读:马路拥堵的五大原因

2015-01-14    来源:英语学习    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

英语阅读:马路拥堵的五大原因

轻轨;地铁;交通越发达,道路拥堵的现象似乎就越多见。一旦被堵在路上,那种滋味可真是叫天天不应,叫地地不灵。有时候就一两个站的距离,也能堵上半小时。然而,你可知道,很多交通拥堵其实都是我们自己造成的。比如随意并道、动不动就刹车、开车时过多关注路旁广告牌而忽视前方道路等等。这些你都做过么?

英语阅读:

Five Weird Things You Need to Know About Traffic

By Debra Kelly 韩璐 选 刘宇佳 注

Traffic can be the bane2 of our existence. There’s nothing that will ruin your day faster than being stuck in a traffic jam all morning, and it’s even worse when there’s seemingly no reason for it. There’s a lot of interesting science behind traffic, though, and while understanding it might not make sitting in it any better, it can teach you how to avoid some of the mistakes we all make behind the wheel.3

1. The Way We Merge4 Causes Problems

Whether you’re merging from the left or the right, chances are good that you’re doing it wrong and causing all sorts of problems. When most people see that they need to merge, their first instinct is to do it right away. They brake, slow down, speed up, and change lanes5 in between oncoming traffic. According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, that’s completely wrong. Sudden slowing causes traffic to back up, a problem that’s made worse by sudden lane changes and other cars braking to accommodate6 the merging traffic.

So what should you do? Exactly what you probably curse7 drivers for doing: waiting until the last minute. If you do that, traffic will fall into a more natural pattern called a “zipper merge,” meaning there are no surprises, no sudden braking, and a smoother transition from one lane to another, which cuts down on backups.8 This does, of course, rely on other drivers to let you in at the last minute and be courteous9 enough to not cut you off, which causes all sorts of other problems.

2. You Are Causing the Traffic Jams You Hate

Traffic jams have long been chalked up to the sheer volume of traffic on the roads,10but it turns out that even heavy traffic can flow smoothly if people maintain a constant speed. The problem is that we can’t. Researchers at the University of Exeter have found that just one person even slightly stepping on their brakes can have a devastating effect on the traffic around them.11

On even moderately busy roads, it can take only a few minutes for traffic to grind to a complete halt behind someone who tapped their brakes to let another driver merge.12The standstill13usually occurs several minutes after the braking, well after the person that caused the problem in the first place has gone on his or her way.

3. Horse Manure14

While the problems of modern traffic might be new, the transportation methods of the olden15days had their share of issues. Anyone who thinks that traffic pollution is a modern invention should look at the problems that befell16London at the turn of the century. In the late 1800s, almost all traffic was horse-drawn, resulting in 11,000 horse-drawn carriages and several thousand 12-horse buses making their way across the London streets every day.

All of those horses produced manure—about 7-15 kilograms (15-35 lb17) of it per day, to be exact. In 1894, it was estimated that it would have only taken 50 years for the manure to cover all of London’s streets almost 3 meters (9 ft18) deep. Other major cities, like New York, had similar problems. New York City’s horses produced an average of 1 million kilograms (2.5 million lb) of manure each day, requiring the city to spend a lot of money cleaning it up.

Something had to be done about it, and the result was the first international urban planning conference ever held. When no solution was reached, the landscape was looking bleak19. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before the advent20of the car solved the problem. It arguably brought an entirely new set of problems with it, but things could have been different if the electric cars of Victorian London had been more economical.

4. Billboards21 Change the Way You Drive

Distracted driving is dangerous driving. That’s why you can’t talk on your phone and drive at the same time in many places. There’s one age-old highway occupant that’s causing all sorts of traffic problems as well: the billboard. Studies at the Institute for Road Safety Research in the Netherlands have found that, unsurprisingly, drivers spend less time paying attention to the road and other drivers when there are billboards along the roads.

They also found that most people are more capable of remembering the billboards they passed than the traffic signs they just saw. Instances of veering into another lane, misjudging distances between vehicles, and making dangerous decisions all increase when there are billboards present22. The problem is getting even worse with the advent of digital billboards.

According to researchers at the University of Granada, the last billboard you see before going through a yellow light has a measured impact on your decision to stop or keep going. People who were exposed to billboards and other advertisements displaying negative subject matters, such as accidents or abuse, were more likely to stop at the yellow light. Cheerful, happy billboards and images, on the other hand, made people more likely to run the light.

5. Why More Lanes Don’t Mean Less Traffic

The sight of a new lane being added to a perpetually congested highway usually evokes two emotions: annoyance at the current delay and hope that traffic will decrease after the road is finished.23Unfortunately, it never, ever works that way. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania looked at the correlation24between expanding roads and the amount of traffic on those roads over a 10-year period and found that the amount of traffic actually went up following the addition of new roads.

The prevailing25theory regarding this strange phenomenon is that when it’s easier to travel, people travel more. Of course, the reverse is also true. If you eliminate26lanes of traffic or side streets, traffic will adjust to become no better or worse than it was before. They’ve tried it in notoriously27congested cities like Paris and San Francisco.

Studies are now suggesting that the trick isn’t to make roads more available but to make them a privilege28to use. Some cities, like London, are doing just that by charging a fee to use their roads, and it’s working. People will combine trips, turn to mass transit29, or choose different modes of transportation, like biking or walking, if they have to pay to use the roads.

重点解析:

1. weird: 怪异的。

2. bane: 祸害,痛苦之源。

3. 交通背后也有很多有趣的知识。虽然知道这些可能不会使情况有所好转,但却能教会你如何避免开车时所犯的种种错误。behind the wheel: 在驾驶中。

4. merge: 合并。

5. lane: 车道。

6. accommodate: 适应。

7. curse: 咒骂。

8. 这样一来,交通就会呈现出一种更加自然、称为“拉链式并道”的模式。也就是说,人们并非突然刹车并道,而是一道道慢慢并过去,这样就会减少拥堵。zipper: 拉链;transition: 过渡;backup: <美>车辆拥堵。

9. courteous: 有礼貌的。

10. chalk up: 取决于;sheer: 完全的。

11. University of Exeter: 埃克塞特大学,英国一所著名综合性大学,在2013/14QS世界大学排名榜上位居英国第26位,世界第168位;devastating: 极大的。

12. 即使在交通不是很拥挤的路面上,一旦有人刹车让其他司机并道,几分钟之内,交通就会彻底堵住。moderately: 适度地;grind to a halt: 慢慢停止。

13. standstill: 停止。

14. manure: 粪便。

15. olden: 古老的,往昔的。

16. befell: (befall的过去时)发生。

17. lb: =pound,磅。

18. ft: =feet,英尺。

19. bleak: 荒凉的。

20. advent: 出现,到来。

21. billboard: 广告牌,布告板。

22. 当路上有广告牌时,人们变换车道、错误判断车距以及做出危险决定的例子屡见不鲜。veer: 转向。

23. 在一直都拥堵的高速公路上修建新车道,人们对此通常会产生两种情感:一是反感目前的交通堵塞,二是希望道路修好后,交通能有所缓解。perpetually: 永久地;congested: 拥堵的;annoyance: 反感。

24. correlation: 关联。

25. prevailing: 普遍的。

26. eliminate: 消除。

27. notoriously: 恶名昭彰地。

28. privilege: 特权。

29. mass transit: 公共交通。

(by:英语学习杂志)



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