Roads basics – and land use

Much to the distress of many highway engineers and land use planners, roads and land uses are inseparably related. When an engineer plans a road he must consider land uses; and when a planner proposes a new development, he must consider roads.

For example, in 2010 Maaike Sneider (ref. 528) wrote that:

“…. there  is  a  strong  relationship  between  land  use  and  infrastructure planning.  On  the  one  hand,  the  transport  infrastructure  is  partly  determined  by  the  spatial structure, and, on the other hand, the (economic) spatial structure is partly determined by the transport infrastructure”

And, from the FHWA website:

“Land use is an important determinant of the function of an area’s roads. As land use changes because of development, especially at the urban fringe, road functions also change”.


Any consideration of roads and road networks must include a consideration of land uses.

 Back in 1996 A. Talvitie, writing on road functional classification procedure (ref. 370) said that:

“Concurrent  technical  work  should  consider  the  population  and  the  location  of  centers  for administration, social and economic activities such as education and health, commerce and trade, manufacturing, private and public services, and important transport junctions such as ports, rail stations and border crossings.  Following a description of the various centers they may then be divided into groups by their importance at national, regional, provincial, and district level”.

So from Talvitie we could say that:

A road functional classification should be related to  land uses classified in terms of function and importance

In fact, Germany has such a method for developing road network structure through the spatial distribution of land use clusters – the FGSV’s “Richtlinien für integrierte Netzgestaltung.” Atze Dijkstra describes these in his 2011 publication (ref. 527). He explains that the 1988 version of the German procedure divides clusters into four classes. Each class refers to the functionality of a  cluster  regarding  government,  court  of  justice,  culture,  different  kinds  of services. The updated version of 2008 retains the classification of clusters with characteristic functionality, and also deals with networks for public transport and bicycle traffic as well as motorised traffic.


370 – Talvitie, A. “Functional classification of roads”, paper presented at the annual meeting of the TRB, Washington DC, USA; January 1996.

527 – Atze Dijkstra, “En route to safer roads, how road structure and road classification can affect road safety”, Netherlands (2011)

528 – Sneider, Maaike, “Designing robust road networks”, TRAIL Thesis Series nr. T2010/10, Delft, Netherlands; 2010


About roadnotes

Robert Bartlett is an international consultant with over 30 years of professional experience as a highway and traffic engineer with leading companies and organisations in several countries, including Germany, China (Hong Kong), Qatar and the UK. Specialised in urban studies, transport and the use of GIS, research has included new ideas on subjects such as the study of social justice using GIS, the dimensions of vehicles, and comparative geometrics (highways and transport).
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