Edward Hines of the USA was today presented with a Dutch design award. The cyclist created the world's first concrete road.

Inventor of road centre-line receives posthumous honour

Edward N. Hines of Michigan, invented the highway centreline, one of the world’s most important road safety features. He died in 1938 but was today honoured with the first Paul Mijksenaar Design for Function Award. The presentation was made at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands with Michigan’s State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle accepting the award on behalf of Hines’ family via a videotaped message. 

Hines conceived of the separation idea in 1911, after watching a leaky milk waggon leave a white trail down a road. By this time Hines was a motorist but his interest in roads had started when he was Chief Consul of the League of American Wheelmen. 

In the 1880s, cycling organisations in the UK and USA were the first bodies to push for road surface improvements, 30 years before motoring organisations were big enough to clamour for the same. The CTC created the Roads Improvement Association in 1885; LAW created the Good Roads movement in 1880. This was a very influential organisation: LAW once had the then US president turn up at its annual general meeting.

LAW president Horatio ‘Father of Good Roads’ Earle was a friend and colleague of Hines and in 1909 they worked together to create the world’s first concrete road, a one mile stretch of road in Michigan.

In his 1929 autobiography Earle – who later created the Michigan State Highway Department (now known as the Michigan Department of Transportation) – wrote: "I often hear now-a-days, the automobile instigated good roads; that the automobile is the parent of good roads. Well, the truth is, the bicycle is the father of the good roads movement in this country."

In 1902 Earle had founded American Road Makers (now known as the American Road and Transportation Builders Association) to carry on the work he and Hines had started in the Good Roads movement of the League of American Wheelmen.

The Paul Mijksenaar Design for Function Award is an initiative of Foundation Paul Mijksenaar, a global multi-disciplinary centre for research and debate in the field of information design and architecture in the modern world, created by Professor Paul Mijksenaar.

Presenting the first ever award to Hines and his family, Mijksenaar said: "It’s impossible to estimate how many motorists and other road users can attribute their lives and wellbeing to Edward Hines’s astute insight."


Carlton Reid is writing a book on cyclists’ contribution to better roads. He has received writing grants from the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund and the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation.

In other news...

‘Britain’s pothole crisis costs lives’ says Cycling UK as new funding announced to repair England’s roads

More must be done to ensure funding to fix potholes does not ignore people cycling, …