A11 ‘cheese wire’ barrier campaigner demands evidence of safety testing from Highways Agency

The A11 Elveden bypass which is now open. Picture: Denise Bradley The A11 Elveden bypass which is now open. Picture: Denise Bradley

Monday, September 1, 2014
3:04 PM

A campaigner who started a petition to have “cheese wire” restraints removed from the A11’s central reservation has called for evidence that they are safe for motorcyclists after the Highways agency defended their use.

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Simon Frampton says the controversial wire restraints, which are being used on the newly dualled stretch of A11 between Thetford and Barton Mills, are a danger to motorcyclists and banned in a number of European countries.

But in a letter to Mr Frampton, the Highways Agency said it had tested the restraints on 1500kg family car and smaller vehicles such as a VW Lupo.

He said: “They say they have tested the barriers on cars but there’s no evidence they have been tested on motorcycles and it’s a different thing altogether.

“We go under the wire or hit the uprights, the bike gets caught in the upright or cables and it can catapult you over. It either does that or cuts bits off of you, that’s why we call them ‘cheese wire’,” he said.

Mr Frampton said bikers only need to hit the barriers at 30mph for serious damage to be likely and said a number of European nations had banned the design.

He also claims the Highways Agency admitted it had reservations about the restraints in 2005.

Mr Frampton, a senior project manager in a construction firm, said the wire barriers cost more to produce than a concrete alternative, and questioned the reasons for their use.

“You do wonder why they would be using these when they are more dangerous and more expensive.

“In my line of work you often see people signing long-term contracts for the supply of this kind of thing and I wonder if this is what has happened here and they can’t get out of it,” he said.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency insisted the restraints were safe for use.

“Central reservation safety barriers are put in place to increase road user safety by preventing vehicles crossing over to the opposite carriageway and reducing the risk of more serious injuries.

“All barrier systems are tested by an independent authority to ensure they exceed our stringent design standards.

“The barriers in this instance were procured via the usual tender process to ensure best value for money for the public whilst ensuring high standards of road user safety are met,” he said.

What do you think of the use of the steel wire safety restraints? Let us know by emailing reporter Andrew Fitchett on andrew.fitchett@archant.co.uk

9 comments

  • I have had one major accident in my life as a motorcyclist, my wife and I were badly injured by a idiot not thinking driver performing an illegal which caught me out, luckily we recovered, but we as motorcyclists face major disasters every time we ride, and I accept that risk, what we don't need is extra hazards like these barriers as well as dangerous car drivers on mobile phones making us take avoiding action and impacting barriers which would add to our injuries!

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    peter99

    Thursday, September 4, 2014

  • If a motorcyclist hits a concrete barrier will he be in much better shape? Motorcycles must be dubbed "donorcycles" for a reason. If you crash the prospects are pretty grim and that's the risk you take when you get on one.

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    a fine city

    Monday, September 1, 2014

  • Norfolk John says it all really. IF everyone (including motorbikes) travels at no more than 40mph and doesn't attempt a "I'm going to speed up here or cut in front of you because my journey is SO much more important than yours" manoeuvre then what's to worry about?

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    One Horse Town

    Monday, September 1, 2014

  • I am more worried about whether they have been tested using a 40 ton lorry than a 1500kg small car.

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    Arkle

    Monday, September 1, 2014

  • These type of barriers are used all over the world and are a safe and cheaper alternative to the two other main methods. The answer here is quite simple - if motorcyclists feel that they are dangerous to them, them don't travel on the road or if they do, then drive slower!

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    Norfolk John

    Monday, September 1, 2014

  • Typical, as it states in the article "it had tested the restraints on 1500kg family car and smaller vehicles such as a VW Lupo". Why not tested on Motorcycles? Looks like a hidden agenda?

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    RoadWarrior

    Monday, September 1, 2014

  • They do seem to be potentially dangerous to motorcyclists. If they are not, why doesn't the Highways Agency simply produce the research that says so?

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    la barbe

    Monday, September 1, 2014

  • I also find these barriers very dangerous, as a motorcyclist of long standing, I shudder to think what could happen to a human body coming in contact with these wires, no matter what safety clothing was being worn, the thought of sliding into or impacting these wires at any speed does not bear thinking about. Please replace them with Armco type barriers before we are proved right.

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    peter99

    Monday, September 1, 2014

  • This kind of barrier is not the cheapest and is positively life-threatening to motor cyclists. It's obviously either a case of 'you can have this stuff cheap as it's about to be banned' or simple corruption. I hope it's the first one.

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    Max Headroom

    Monday, September 1, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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