OS research shows roads would cover area the size of Lancashire | Smart Highways Magazine: Industry News

OS research shows roads would cover area the size of Lancashire

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If all the roads and motorways in Great Britain were grouped together into one landmass, there would be more than enough to cover an area the size of Lancashire. That’s according to research carried out by Ordnance Survey’s consultancy and technical services team.

The team, who work with one of the largest geographic databases in the world that is updated over 10,000 times a day, has also worked out that if you drove non-stop, day and night, the entire length of our road network, all 215,490 miles of it, and you travelled at an average speed of 40mph, it will take you 224 and a half days.

If you were to attempt this at London’s average speed of 9mph it would take you almost two years and nine months to travel every road in Great Britain. In a driverless car, which has an average speed of 11mph, the journey would take just under 2 years and 3 months.

Ron Andrews, spokesperson for Ordnance Survey, said: “We make over 10,000 changes a day to the geographic database of Great Britain and are looking forward to recording the new roads and the changes to existing ones that are planned.”

Britain only needs to add another 5,363 miles to its road infrastructure to have enough to reach up to the moon when it is at its closest on its elliptical orbit.

Total Length of roads (by type)

Road Type Total Length (km)
A Road 46,604.77
B Road 29,866.92
Minor Road 266,733.00
Motorway 3,592.89



Length of roads, by top 10 counties (including a split, by road types):

Top Ten Counties, for ALL roads
Rank Name Total Length (km)
1 Greater London Authority 12,684.38
2 Highland 7,706.25
3 Cornwall 6,893.19
4 Aberdeenshire 6,066.06
5 Powys – Powys 5,199.55
6 Shropshire 4,931.39
7 Northumberland 4,855.15
8 Dumfries and Galloway 4,604.49
9 Wiltshire 4,307.58
10 Sir Gaerfyrddin – Carmarthenshire 3,371.29
Top Ten Counties, for Motorways only
Rank Name Total Length (km)
1 Leeds District (B) 76.76
2 South Gloucestershire 72.27
3 South Lanarkshire 71.89
4 Dumfries and Galloway 62.07
5 Greater London Authority 60.81
6 Doncaster District (B) 60.23
7 Glasgow City 49.17
8 Cheshire East (B) 46.26
9 West Berkshire 45.31
10 North Lanarkshire 40.07
Top Ten Counties, for A-Roads only
Rank Name Total Length (km)
1 Highland 2,329.20
2 Greater London Authority 1,752.80
3 Aberdeenshire 865.56
4 Argyll and Bute 783.62
5 Dumfries and Galloway 772.66
6 Cornwall 698.40
7 Wiltshire 672.30
8 Powys – Powys 655.25
9 Scottish Borders 616.65
10 Perth and Kinross 611.50
Top Ten Counties, for B-Roads and Minor Roads only
Rank Name Total Length (km)
1 Greater London Authority 10,870.76
2 Cornwall 6,194.79
3 Highland 5,377.05
4 Aberdeenshire 5,200.50
5 Powys – Powys 4,544.30
6 Shropshire 4,362.96
7 Northumberland 4,259.60
8 Dumfries and Galloway 3,769.76
9 Wiltshire 3,600.22
10 Sir Gaerfyrddin – Carmarthenshire 2,977.63

If there was high-quality, segregated infrastructure for cycling (Dutch best practice, not the appallingly-bad excuses we normally get), it would reduce the demand for land for parking and ‘road-improvements’, which just encourage more driving and more congestion. Plus replacing many short journeys by cycling would enable us to reap all the benefits of reducing pollution, noise and result in a healthier population. The UK currently has a huge and burgeoning problem with diseases of inactivity. It’s impossible to be physically active when cycling.

What cycling infrastructure all too often looks like:
And more
And what genius thought steps would be appropriate for cycling?

Of course, when I wrote “It’s impossible to be physically active when cycling.”, I meant “It’s impossible to be physically inactive when cycling.”


Which works out as 1.3% of the total area (2% if you just compare to England). I am not sure that is excessive. However, as with all stats, is the area of the roads just the paved part or does it include verges, cuttings and embankments? Still even 4% would be hardly paving over the countyside.
On stats, compare the claim about golf courses having a larger area than housing where the stat was not only untrue, but was comparing all of the golf courses against the roof area of housing, excluding gardens, drives and the roads that serve them!

Why do these figures ignore Devon? With over 8000 MILES of roads, it certainly should be appearing in the top 10 lists. Casts rather a lot of doubt over the accuracy of this work.