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Do You Know the Difference Between Roads, Streets, and Avenues?

We drive on them every day. To and from work, on the way to the grocery store, dropping the kid off at school, but what actually makes a road a road and a street a street?

Well, both terms are often applied to the same thing, a road is different from a street, at least in theory. Roads run from towns to towns. In each of those towns, you’ll find streets: paved roads lined with houses and other buildings. So the term street, then, should be specifically applied to urban roadways. Streets connect people for interaction, while roads connect towns and cities for travel.

(Photo by Jonny V)

Now that you know the difference between roads and streets, here are other hard flat surfaces that people use to travel:

  • An avenue is traditionally a straight road with a line of trees or shrubs running along each side, which emphasize arrival at a landscape or architectural feature.
  • boulevard is usually a widened, multi-lane arterial street with a median and landscaping between the curbs and sidewalks on either side.
  • court is a short street that ends as a cul de sac.
  • drive can be short for driveway, a private road for local access to one, or a small group of structures. Other times it refers to meandering, rather than straight, roads and highways.
  • An expressway is a divided highway meant for high-speed traffic.
  • freeway is a road designed for safe high-speed traffic through the elimination of intersections at the same grade or level.
  • highway is a main road intended for travel between destinations like cities and towns.
  • lane is a narrow road or street usually lacking a shoulder or a median.
  • way is a minor street off a road in a town.


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