Urban motorways are among the greatest – and least forgiven – legacies of post-war planning in Britain. Ringways explores the genesis, development and collapse of London’s controversial plans for nearly 500 miles of highways, to understand why such ambitious and unlamented programmes gained widespread support and triggered urban uproar. Combining a review of the wider intellectual climate with extensive archival research, Ringways asks how far the rise of the urban motorway can be attributed to urban contingency as opposed to far-seeing planners; how ideas of the environment changed as proposals were debated; and whether their fall was the work of popular revolt or expert regret.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Road to the Future
1. "The Monster That We Love": Civilising the Motor Car
2. "Slow and Tortuous": London Before the Ringways
3. Planning by Accident: Creating the Box
4. Climate Change: Defending the Ringways
5. The Road to Damascus: Changing Minds
Conclusion: The Road Not Taken
Michael Dnes is a civil servant at the UK Department for Transport. He was responsible for the 2015 and 2020 road investment strategies, the institutional reform of the highways sector and the recreation of the National Roads Fund.