Road design - What are important safety principles for the design of access roads?

Access roads provide access to homes, businesses, schools, shops, et cetera. Access roads can be found in areas with a residential function. This means that all types of traffic mix here: pedestrians, cyclists, cars, and trucks. Because of the great difference in mass between the road users and the fact that pedestrians and cyclists are largely unprotected, the speed of motorized traffic on access roads must be low.

Access road in an urban area (Photograph: Paul Voorham)

Urban areas

Access roads in urban areas have a 30 km/h speed limit. Enforcement of this limit usually requires physical speed inhibitors. For more information, see SWOV Fact sheet 30 km/h zones. In addition to 30km/h access roads there are homezones. Homezones have a 15 km/h speed limit and pedestrians can walk and play on the entire width of the street. Homezones can be found not only in residential areas, but also in shopping areas and in the vicinity of train stations.

Rural areas

The speed limit on rural access roads the limit is 60 km/h. This is a compromise between requirements for traffic flow on the one hand and requirements for safety on the other hand. Generally, the physical speed inhibitors are only used at intersections (raised junction). Road sections are often fitted with edge strips (a broken line at some distance from the roadsides, sometimes asphalted in red), whereby a driving strip for motor vehicles is created in the middle of the roadway. This leads to a visual narrowing of the road which results in lower speeds. With sufficient width the side strips on either side of the driving strip can be used by cyclists. For more information, see the archived SWOV Fact sheet Shoulders on rural access roads.

Rural access road (Photograph: Paul Voorham)


  • Intersections between access roads are at grade and without any designated priorities (priority for traffic from the right).
  • Intersections between an access road and a distributor road are also at grade. Traffic on the distributor road has priority and the connection from the access road has a so-called exit construction.
Access road ending in an exit construction (Photograph: Paul Voorham)

More information on the design of access roads can be found in the CROW publications on this topic [7] [5].
These publications are in the Dutch language.


Fact sheet

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24 Nov 2017

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