Classification for design – FOUR main road types ?

In an earlier post (here) I argued that there are in effect only two types of road. For example I said that:

“It might be possible to simplify things if we argue that there are two main groups of “roads” which could be called “highways” and “streets”.  The key difference between the two groups is this – the first group is used for movement, the second is not”.

I quoted some published sources which seem to make this argument.

However,looking through the collection of national road design standards / manuals from some 40 countries I get the impression that other engineers might argue for three types of road:

  • regional roads (my “highways”)
  • urban roads  (my “streets”)
  • rural roads (these could perhaps be described as low speed, low volume roads used both for movement and for access)

I could live with this – particularly as it begins to appear that geometric design parameters such as stopping sight distance vary depending whether a road is  regional or rural (although I am not yet sure why this should be).

However we could also add a fourth type of road: special roads, such as Montenegro’s panoramic routes and lifeline roads, or Lancashire County Council (UK)’s quiet lanes and greenways. This would give the following types of road:

  1. regional
  2. urban
  3. rural
  4. special

Even 4 classes is still a reasonably low number when comparing highway geometrics.


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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