The town has historically been an important bridging point of the River Thames, and a meeting point of several important roads including the A3, A238, A240, A307, A308, A309 and A310. It was one of the first places to get a bypass, which was known about when road numbers were first allocated. It was built in stages through the 1920s and opened fully by 1927. Improvements during the 1960s and 1970s mean it is still a relatively high standard bypass given its age.
As the bypass is some distance from the town, there are still problems with congestion, particularly for traffic heading north to Richmond or over the Thames. There is an extensive one-way system that attempts to direct traffic away from the centre and providing up to four lanes of traffic around it.