If you look at any map of a city, the dominating feature isn’t the buildings, but the roads. It is their lines snaking around the city that mark out its regions and create the familiar boundaries we use to navigate.

However, streets themselves rarely get much attention in how they affect transport. Yes, the traffic lights are an obvious area, and the lines on the roads controlling parking, but they seem to be a fairly passive element in London’s great transport mechanism.

Build a road, let cars use it, sit back, and relax.

As it happens, roads are actively managed, with traffic lights and other means of control constantly being tweaked to reduce traffic delays. While the smaller streets are controlled by the local council, the major arteries across the city are under TfL’s active management — and the Building Centre has an exhibition about streets.


It’s very much a boards and photos sort of display, with lots of worthy information and displays of the past and present, with some discussion about the future.

In addition to making roads more productive, after all, they take up an awful lot of space, there are discussions about how to make them more pleasant. Some streets are getting traffic calming measures, others merging motorist and pedestrian into one space and sharing it.


The display drops lots of big numbers around to remind us of how big the problem is — with 26 million trips per day at the moment expecting to rise to 32 million per day in the 2040s.

All that traffic has to go somewhere.

Whether giant road tunnels are the solution, or more subtle solutions such as self-driving cars and more use of overnight deliveries is left to the viewer to consider.

The exhibition is modest, but does leave you with a greater awareness of the needs to manage roads and road traffic more actively to squeeze out whatever spare capacity can be found.

The exhibiton at the Building Centre runs until 24th February.

The Building Centre,
Store Street,




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One comment
  1. Brian says:

    Get rid of Tory mayors and back to restricting the movement of private cars in the central areas …… or alternatively, build very expensive super-highways underground and pollute the periphery even more!

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