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Road classification

Roads are grouped according to the type of service they provide. The classification of roads assists in establishing road design features, land use planning policy, traffic density, mobility, safety and access requirements. A balance of all road types is needed to achieve mobility for all users.

The following section provides a description of the roadway classifications currently used in Calgary.

Skeletal Roads

At the top end of the street classification are Skeletal Roads, formerly known as Expressways and Freeways. These roads promote the movement of vehicular traffic over long distances and carry over 30,000 vehicles per day. They operate at high speeds and have limited direct access and interaction with adjacent land uses. Facilities within the Skeletal Road right of way for walking and cycling are not common, but sometimes vital to city-wide pathway connectivity.

Crowchild Trail and Glenmore Trail are Skeletal Roads.

Arterial Street

Arterial Streets provide a reasonably direct connection between multiple communities and major destinations and carry between 10,000 and 30,000 vehicles per day. They are typically spaced 800 to 1600 metres apart. Arterial Streets make up much of the Primary Transit Network. Green infrastructure strategies may include vegetated swales, rain gardens, filter strips, and native vegetation.

Bow Trail is an example of an Arterial Street.

Industrial Arterial

These streets place highest priority on the efficient movement of heavy trucks, but still accommodate all modes of travel. They are typically lower speed streets with a high percentage of truck volume, often as high as 30% of all traffic. Industrial Arterials carry between 10,000 and 30,000 vehicles per day. The size of the adjacent industrial lots dictates the level of connectivity or access.

114 Avenue S.E. is an Industrial Arterial.

Urban Boulevard

Urban Boulevards form the backbone of higher-density Corridors and Activity Centres. The highest priority is given to walking, cycling, and transit patrons, while high volumes of vehicular traffic are expected. These streets are local and regional destinations, fully integrated with adjacent mixed land uses, and provide high levels of connectivity to surrounding communities. Urban Boulevards make up some of the Primary Transit Network. High quality urban design and green infrastructure are critical components of Urban Boulevards. A level of congestion appropriate for a dense urban area is acceptable on this street type.

A current example of an Urban Boulevard is 16 Avenue N.W.


Parkways focus on integration with natural areas. Adjacent land uses include large natural parks, waterways, or special public institutions. Natural vegetation and new forms of storm water management are integrated with the street. Parkways present opportunities to maximize water infiltration, slow and detain rainfall, enhance the urban forest, and preserve and enhance biodiversity. Walking and cycling modes are given highest priority.

A current example of a Parkway is Memorial Drive N.W.

Neighbourhood Boulevard

Neighbourhood Boulevards are similar to Urban Boulevards, but on a smaller scale. Though not a requirement, these streets support mixed-use retail and medium-density residential uses. Walking and cycling have the highest priority. These streets are destinations for the local communities surrounding them, and provide the highest level of connectivity of all “Liveable” street types. As with Urban Boulevards, high-quality urban design and green infrastructure are important components.

A current example of a Neighbourhood Boulevard is Kensington Road N.W.