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This part of CBRD explores various aspects of the road network in serious detail — from investigations into the past of the road network and detailed tours of specific roads to biographies of the people who had a major impact on the way we travel.

Wherever these articles take you, they try to help you understand not just what is there, but also why things are the way they are.

The most recently updated articles are at the top. You can filter the list by type, using the menu on the right, or by topic, by clicking one of the tags under each item.

Clear and legible Clear and legible

A century ago, one short memorandum issued by the Ministry of Transport laid the groundwork for a system of standardised, uniform road signs and a great deal more.

Tags: Signage
History | Updated 4 March 2017 | Created 4 March 2017

Fifteen Years Fifteen Years

In August 2016, CBRD turned 15 years old. Join us for a tour of the last 15 years, looking at what's changed on the UK road network and what we've learned.

Tags: CurrentEvents
Guide | Updated 3 September 2016 | Created 3 September 2016

M20 Bridge Collapse M20 Bridge Collapse

In August 2016, a footbridge over the M20 was struck and collapsed. Why did it come down so easily - and how did the other half stay hanging in mid-air?

Tags: CurrentEvents · HighwaysEngland · Incidents · M20
Guide | Updated 29 August 2016 | Created 29 August 2016

To The Limit To The Limit

Speed limits are more emotive and divisive than almost anything else about the road network. How do you sort the fact from the opinion? And how did we end up with the speed limits we have?

Tags: Police · Signage
Guide | Updated 26 March 2016 | Created 26 March 2016

The Heads of the Valleys The Heads of the Valleys

The A465 Heads of the Valleys Road is one of the most spectacular trunk roads in the UK, and building it required some of the most remarkable civil engineering. This is the story of how the road was built in the 1960s, and how it's being rebuilt today.

Tags: A465 · Wales
History | Updated 24 October 2015 | Created 24 October 2015

Operation Stack Operation Stack

If there's trouble crossing the Channel, you'll see the lorries queuing on the M20. What is Operation Stack? Why does it cause so much trouble? And why, more than twenty years after it started, are we still using it?

Tags: M20 · Motorways · Police
Guide | Updated 30 August 2015 | Created 1 August 2015

London's Forgotten Arterial Roads London's Forgotten Arterial Roads

The 1920s and 30s saw a huge roadbuilding boom in London's suburbs. Some of those roads are incredibly well known, but here are five Arterial Roads that have been almost completely forgotten.

Tags: A40 · A406 · ArterialRoads · London
Tour | Updated 14 March 2015 | Created 14 March 2015

Mixed Signals Mixed Signals

During the 1960s the UK developed some of the most sophisticated - and strange - electronic variable message signs anywhere in the world. How? And, just as importantly... why?

Tags: Motorways · Signage · VMS
History | Updated 2 February 2015 | Created 2 February 2015

Smart Motorways Smart Motorways

Motorways used to be really simple. Now they have electronic signals, variable speed limits, emergency lay-bys, part-time hard shoulders... Just what is so smart about Smart Motorways?

Tags: HighwaysEngland · M1 · M25 · M3 · M6 · M62 · Motorways · Roadworks · VMS
Guide | Updated 14 November 2014 | Created 14 November 2014

Low Emission Zone Low Emission Zone

A first step towards emissions-based road pricing, a pointless measure to enforce something that's happening anyway, or another leap forward in traffic planning from the people who created the Congestion Charge? It's hard to say.

Tags: London · Tolls
Guide | Updated 4 November 2014 | Created 16 February 2008

London Congestion Charge London Congestion Charge

One of the world's biggest and most controversial schemes to manage traffic by charging for roadspace. You can drive in to London if you like, guv, but it'll cost you.

Tags: London · Tolls
Guide | Updated 25 October 2014 | Created 4 April 2003

Road Numbers Road Numbers

We'd be lost without them. Find your way around road numbering - how it works, how it was done and how it doesn't always work all that well.

Tags: Maintenance · Numbers
Guide | Updated 19 May 2012 | Created 3 November 2007

Coventry Ring Road Coventry Ring Road

The best ring road in the world? Possibly. The most frightening? Yes.

Tags: Coventry · RingRoads
Tour | Updated 19 May 2012 | Created 18 June 2005

Queensway Tunnel Queensway Tunnel

The engineering marvel of its day, much altered and maligned ever since: this is the original Mersey Tunnel in all its glory.

Tags: Liverpool · Tolls · Tunnels
History | Updated 19 May 2012 | Created 8 September 2007

Emergency Diversion Routes Emergency Diversion Routes

Those funny black and yellow symbols are everywhere - and they might just get you back on track one day.

Tags: HighwaysEngland · Motorways · Signage
Guide | Updated 17 December 2011 | Created 17 December 2011

Three Generations of the A82 Three Generations of the A82

Three roads were built in the space of 200 years, all trying to tame Rannoch Moor and Glen Coe. This is the impressive tale of one of Scotland's most memorable routes.

Tags: A82 · Scotland
Tour | Updated 22 January 2011 | Created 18 April 2009

Driver Location Signs Driver Location Signs

If you're on the motorway (in England at least) you might have noticed some funny blue signs down the side of the road. What are they for? Find out here.

Tags: HighwaysEngland · Motorways · Signage
Guide | Updated 22 January 2011 | Created 9 July 2005

Studland Motor Road Studland Motor Road

The first motorway opened in 1958. The first road restricted to motor traffic, on the other hand, opened in 1923...

Tags: Ferries
History | Updated 2 October 2010 | Created 2 October 2010

Pedestrian Crossings Pedestrian Crossings

From Zebra to Pelican and beyond: the comprehensive history of the development of the humble pedestrian crossing. Twice as interesting as you expected or your money back!

Tags: PedestrianCrossings · Signage · TrafficSignals
History | Updated 17 July 2010 | Created 28 February 2007

Opening Booklets Opening Booklets

In days gone by, new roads were often celebrated with a grand opening ceremony and the issue of a commemorative booklet heralding the exciting new highway. You'll find some of them here, complete with a glimpse of all that empty tarmac and a healthy dose of modernist optimism.

Tags: A2 · A505 · M2 · M25 · M6 · MedwayBridge · PrestonBypass · Skelmersdale
History | Updated 13 June 2010 | Created 1 June 2002

Roundabouts Roundabouts

The UK has been driving in circles for a hundred years now, and this humble road junction has become part of British culture. Just what is so special about roundabouts?

Tags: Junctions · Roundabouts
History | Updated 27 February 2010 | Created 28 November 2009

Burdock Way Burdock Way

The humble West Yorkshire town of Halifax may well be the creator of the most adventurous urban road scheme in the country. Find out what it is, and why what was built isn't even the half of it.

Tags: A58 · Halifax · Unbuilt
History | Updated 20 February 2010 | Created 2 October 2004

Oxfordshire Signs Oxfordshire Signs

This is the story of one man at Oxfordshire County Council who pre-empted the development of modern road signs - much to the annoyance of the men from the Ministry.

Tags: Signage · WorboysCommittee
History | Updated 9 January 2010 | Created 9 January 2010

Ringways Ringways

Destructive, expensive, over-optimistic and by far the biggest single plan for roads that Britain has ever seen. Now the biggest research project into unbuilt roads ever.

Tags: London · M1 · M11 · M20 · M23 · M25 · M3 · M4 · M40 · RingRoads · Ringways · Unbuilt
History | Updated 7 February 2009 | Created 25 November 2005

Croydon Ring Road Croydon Ring Road

Common sense suggests that you shouldn't be able to spend so much money on heavy engineering and end up with such a terrible road system.

Tags: London · RingRoads · Unbuilt
Tour | Updated 7 February 2009 | Created 9 August 2008

The Magic Roundabout The Magic Roundabout

Officially the seventh most frightening thing on the road network - but actually it might just be the most efficient junction ever designed.

Tags: Junctions · Roundabouts · Swindon
Guide | Updated 31 January 2009 | Created 19 July 2008

Preston Bypass Preston Bypass

The very first motorway was eight miles of relief for the Lancashire town of Preston. It goes without saying that there's an interesting story to be told about it.

Tags: JamesDrake · M6 · Preston
History | Updated 6 December 2008 | Created 6 December 2008

Sir James Drake Sir James Drake

County Surveyor and Bridgemaster for Lancashire in the 1950s and 60s, Drake was instrumental in the motorway revolution.

Tags: JamesDrake · M6 · Preston
Biography | Updated 6 December 2008 | Created 6 December 2008

Timeline Timeline

A whistle-stop tour of the motor age, from the turn of the twentieth century to the present. No pedestrians, horse drawn vehicles, invalid carriages or motorcycles under 50cc please.

Tags: M25 · M4 · M6
History | Updated 18 October 2008 | Created 18 October 2008

Glasgow Glasgow

Even in the 1960s heyday of roadbuilding, some people said you could never build your way out of congestion. Glasgow had plans to prove them wrong.

Tags: Glasgow · M74 · M77 · M8 · M80 · M898 · Scotland · Unbuilt
History | Updated 20 October 2007 | Created 9 June 2007

Leeds Inner Ring Road Leeds Inner Ring Road

One of those hair-raising urban motorways that were all the rage in the late 1960s - but with fewer loose ends than most. A tour of the route with lots of history thrown in.

Tags: A58 · A64 · Leeds · RingRoads · UrbanMotorways
Tour | Updated 21 July 2007 | Created 8 March 2003

Warrington New Town Warrington New Town

New Towns are fascinating places socially and architecturally - and, of course, in terms of roads. This article explores one example from start to finish.

Tags: A574 · NewTowns · Unbuilt · Warrington
Tour | Updated 3 March 2007 | Created 23 September 2006

Underways Underways

Proposed at the same time as the Ringways, but ten times as ambitious - and to think the government considered building them both!

Tags: Tunnels · Unbuilt
History | Updated 11 November 2006 | Created 11 November 2006

War to Worboys War to Worboys

The tale of how British traffic signing developed between the Second World War and the mid-1960s, bringing us from a system designed at the turn of the century to the signs we still use today.

Tags: AndersonCommittee · JockKinneir · MargaretCalvert · Signage · WorboysCommittee
History | Updated 14 October 2006 | Created 26 June 2004

Euroroute Euroroute

Today you can catch a train to France. You can even put your car on it, and be there in less than an hour. But in the 1980s, Euro Tunnel had competition - including plans to build a motorway across the English Channel.

Tags: M20 · Tunnels · Unbuilt
History | Updated 14 October 2006 | Created 5 February 2005

Daniel 'Swampy' Hooper Daniel 'Swampy' Hooper

Britain's most famous anti-road protestor, who shot to fame in the mid-1990s and came to represent the whole environmental movement.

Tags: A30 · A34 · DanielHooper · Protests
Biography | Updated 14 October 2006 | Created 2 April 2006

Harry Yeadon Harry Yeadon

A civil engineer, working principally in the North West of England, responsible for many of the area's motorways.

Tags: HarryYeadon · M6 · M62 · Preston
Biography | Updated 23 June 2006 | Created 23 June 2006

B7076 and B7078 B7076 and B7078

What sound at first like a pair of forgotten country lanes turn out to have had a major part to play in the history of Scotland's roads.

Tags: A74 · M74 · Scotland
Tour | Updated 31 December 2005 | Created 22 January 2005

M1-A1 Link Road M1-A1 Link Road

Those last few miles of the M1 east of Leeds were completed in 1999. It looks for the most part like a fairly average piece of road, but one of the project's engineers describes some of the challenges that were faced.

Tags: A1 · Leeds · M1
Tour | Updated 5 January 2005 | Created 26 April 2004

Major Incidents Major Incidents

What happens when there's a big accident on a trunk route? Who picks up the pieces, and why does it take so long?

Tags: HighwaysEngland · Incidents · M6 · Roadworks
Guide | Updated 1 January 2005 | Created 1 January 2005

Liverpool Inner Motorway Liverpool Inner Motorway

The routing, design and details of Liverpool's 1960's plans for an inner ring road have been a mystery to road enthusiasts for years. The full details on the route, plus that of the M62, are here.

Tags: Liverpool · Unbuilt · UrbanMotorways
History | Updated 29 May 2004 | Created 29 May 2004

M4 in Wales M4 in Wales

M4Man's account of the building of the M4 through Wales from growing up in Swansea - a tour of the motorway from its construction to the present day.

Tags: M4 · SevernBridges · Wales
History | Updated 31 October 2002 | Created 23 May 2002

Old Motorway Signs Old Motorway Signs

Forefathers to the modern signs - see how the Preston Bypass and other early motorways were signed, and indulge in nostalgia if you long for the days when these still inhabited parts of the M1 and M6.

Tags: AndersonCommittee · Signage
History | Updated 22 March 2002 | Created 22 March 2002