The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

7 July 2007

Stretching the point

In general, I've been a fan of cable barriers in highway medians, if only because they're substantially less unsightly than the usual concrete blocks; I said so here, though an incident in which an 18-wheeler on the Lake Hefner Parkway managed to get through one of them caused some concern locally.

Which, I assume, motivated an Australian fellow to send me a comment that was unrelated to the topic to which it was affixed, but which I hated to throw away, so I'm reprinting it here:

This video may change your opinion on wire rope safety barriers (cable barriers).

See, the problem with cable barriers is the same as with any other product: They are not the same! You have some cheep "cut corner" solutions and you have the original design with genuine developments. In my opinion it would be seriously unfair and bad for human society to ban cable barriers before even realizing what the differences are.

The Australian fellow in question identified himself as Daniel Chmura, who is a transport engineer for Brifen's Oz branch, so his interest is clear. And frankly, I was impressed with the video (it requires QuickTime), though a car weighing maybe 1500 kg is going to be a lot easier to restrain than a tractor-trailer rig: laws of physics and all that. That single incident aside, the cable barriers (mostly built by Brifen) have done well here, as they did in an extended test in Indiana.

I should point out that motorcyclists in various parts of the world have objected to them, occasionally suggesting a similarity to a cheese slicer; their deployment has been stopped in Norway. All I can say to that is that our bikers don't seem to be running into them.

Posted at 10:11 AM to Driver's Seat

That video is indeed impressive. I'm also surprised the wheels stayed on the car when the cables dragged it back onto the road at that speed, but I'm sure that has nothing to do with the barrier...

Posted by: McGehee at 9:17 AM on 8 July 2007

Thanks for publishing my comment.
Indeed you are right in all you said before and after my words.
Road safety barrier industry is all about compromising to some level. There is not such a "ideal barrier" to suit and please everyone. In similar fashion there are differences among wire rope safety barriers themselves.
So next time, when accident happens please try to find out which type of WRSB was involved, before making any comments.

Posted by: Daniel Chmura at 8:03 PM on 8 July 2007