“If there’s an accident there’s going to be a fatality”: A11 “cheese cutter” barriers criticised

The A11 Elveden bypass The A11 Elveden bypass

Thursday, July 31, 2014
3:07 PM

Motorcycle groups have raised safety concerns over the use of “cheese cutter” wire central reservation barriers on the newly dualled stretch of the A11.

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A petition has been launched to replace the wire barriers, which campaigners believe to be a “high risk” to motorcyclists and scooters. It has had more than 3,500 signatures.

Paul Milner, vice chairman of Norfolk Advanced Motorcyclists, said the barriers were safe for cars, but fatal for bikers.

“They restrain four wheel vehicles effectively, but they are nicknamed chesse cutters and have been banned from certain countries in the EU. However, the Highways Agency like them because they are cheaper.

“If there’s an accident it’s going to be a fatality and that’s the point - these barriers will kill bikers,” he said.

Mr Milner, who has been a biker for more than 50 years, said concrete barriers, such as those used on stretches of the M25, were much safer.

“Whenever you crash on a motorcycle it’s going to hurt, but at least with the concrete barriers it will be a matter of broken bones rather than death,” he said.

The Highways Agency say the barriers are suitable on straight stretches of road.

A spokesman said: “We are committed to providing safe roads for all road users and any safety barriers we install comply with approved standards.

“This section of the A11 is generally very straight and there has been no significant accident history regarding motorcycles. Wire rope safety fence has been installed because it is a compliant, approved system and is deemed to be an appropriate safety measure for this location.”

The spokesman added that the Elveden bypass has been designed with long shallow bends, which should mitigate risk to motorists.

What do you think of the barriers? Should they be removed? Let us know by emailing reporter Andrew Fitchett on andrew.fitchett@archant.co.uk

17 comments

  • SG. Over 50% of ALL motorcycle accidents are caused by cars. The problem obviously lies with car drivers.

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    Lord Elf

    Saturday, August 2, 2014

  • Bikers are NOT invisible. If you cannot see a motorbike then you should not be driving. When was the last time you (as a driver) looked over your shoulder when changing lanes? I'm guessing that it was never. Speed has nothing to do with these type of accidents.

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    Lord Elf

    Friday, August 1, 2014

  • The answer is simple really. If you don't want to risk being killed on a bike get a car instead. The facts don't lie. Motorcyclists account for only 1% of traffic but also account for nearly a quarter of all fatalities and serious injuries on our roads. When witnessing the behaviour of some of the idiots who ride bikes it's really not surprising that they crash. They truly are an arrogant bunch who have little or no regard for the safety of themselves or other road users. This petition should be chucked out. The road is built now and there would have been plenty of opportunity to voice safety concerns at the planning stage.

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    SG

    Friday, August 1, 2014

  • Time to complain about this was years ago when the road was at the planning phase. Everyone had the chance to see the plans and details. The road has been opened now and is running smoothly. Be hazard aware, whether on 2 wheels or 4.

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    DaveG

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

  • I tend to bite my tongue when I read some of the blatantly ignorant comments written on here..more often by non-bikers I would guess. So I will be anecdotal in my view. Several years ago near Hertford I was " taken out" by a drunk driver who pulled out from the nearside lane before a round about. I was hit from the side at a speed aproaching 45 mph as I was slowing down for the roundabout. Both me and my machine were struck and I hit the central reservation bouncing off the "armco". My motorcycle was a write off and I suffered significant injuries. My lights were on, I had a hi vis jacket and road conditions were dry. Re-visiting the site some months later I noted the dent in the armco. That was me and the bike...i will leave it to your imagination if I would still be here or able to write this if the " so called "cheeese cutter" barrier was present. And yes i drive cars and see they may be effective ( and a less costly option) BUT not for motorcyclists.

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    Responsible parent

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

  • EdChed, I'll have my brush back when your finished. Most means all these days, "hench" I guess I'm tarring myself. Lucioperca has very good points coming from both sides, particularly the advise about riding more defensively, helps the stress levels too.

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    Piranha24

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

  • @EdChed Try using a bit of balance in your logic - I am pretty sure you are far smarter than your posts suggest. Piranha24 has a fair point – some bikers really don’t help themselves. I have witnessed the outside lane being used like a drag strip, bikers undertaking, cutting across multiple lanes to make junctions and lane hopping to make progress – it all unnerves the less confident drivers. Some bikers could advertise their presence better by wearing a brighter coloured helmet or a hi-viz over-vest and switching their headlights on. As for overtaking … it’s a risk assessment each rider must make to satisfy himself its safe to proceed. Cambs Police taught me to make myself look as big as possible and just hang back so that I could see the drivers face in their wing mirror, thus by default they can see me. Only once I was satisfied they had spotted me did I then open up and pass them. If at any stage you are unsure but still proceed, you are accepting the risk. If in any real doubt, don’t attempt the manoeuvre. I am just saying that on this particular stretch, if you as a rider are worried about these barriers, just hold your position until such time as the barrier type changes again.

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    Lucioperca

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

  • @EdChed Try using a bit of balance in your logic - I am pretty sure you are far smarter than your posts suggest. Piranha24 has a fair point – some bikers really don’t help themselves. I have witnessed the outside lane being used like a drag strip, bikers undertaking, cutting across multiple lanes to make junctions and lane hopping to make progress – it all unnerves the less confident drivers. Some bikers could advertise their presence better by wearing a brighter coloured helmet or a hi-viz over-vest and switching their headlights on. As for overtaking … it’s a risk assessment each rider must make to satisfy himself its safe to proceed. Cambs Police taught me to make myself look as big as possible and just hang back so that I could see the drivers face in their wing mirror, thus by default they can see me. Only once I was satisfied they had spotted me did I then open up and pass them. If at any stage you are unsure but still proceed, you are accepting the risk. If in any real doubt, don’t attempt the manoeuvre. I am just saying that on this particular stretch, if you as a rider are worried about these barriers, just hold your position until such time as the barrier type changes again.

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    Lucioperca

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

  • So_Many_Haters! Once you get onto your bike or get into a car, the responsibility to get yourself to your destination is yours and yours alone. Having had a number of different drivers change lanes into me without looking, (Did you ensure that they knew of your presence). You don't have to be speeding or doing anything silly to have a close encounter with the central barrier. (The barriers are stationary they are not going to jump out at you). Given that some drivers go very slow, Lucioperca, are you suggesting that bikers have to tuck in behind the slowest vehicle to avoid any problems with the barrier, just in case someone tries to nudge them into it? This is what Lucioperca said. you are travelling along a stretch with these barriers and maybe just ease back on the throttle and stay in the left hand lane until its passed. Seems sensible to me. Remember Bikers are Invisible. Sometimes I wonder do if the names people use on these discussions reflect their personality?

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    richard gray

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

  • Piranha24, nice brush you have there for taring people with. Also for information, bikers have been complaining about them for years, hench several EU countries banning them.

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    EdChed

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

  • Lucioperca, using your logic, if all the car drivers slowed down and kept to the left lane there would be no need for the wire barriers at all. There you go even more money saved for the council!

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    EdChed

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

  • its also worth pointing out that its credited as inattention but most of the time is because of the speed the bike is travelling, most motorists don't have time to see them as they go speeding passed. These barriers are around on numerous roads around the UK so I don't see why motorcyclists are suddenly complaining about them on the A11. They have already been installed, the HA aren't going to pay more money to install different barriers. Unless you want to stump up the extra cash if your so concerned? (wait for the, but I pay my road tax incorrect argument).

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    Piranha24

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

  • @ monkeynuts and So Many Haters. I too have had a side swipe from a motorist who blatantly ignored her mirrors. Its possibly the scariest moment I ever had on two wheels. That said my point is still valid - its a matter of assessing the risk and driving accordingly. If you want to err on the side of caution, just hang left for the few miles of this barrier and you are more likely to come up against that nice grassy verge if it goes wrong. If you want to run teh gauntlet of the overtaking lane, look much further ahead than just the car in front and assess whether they are also likely to pull out and overtake whatever is slower in front of them. Make yourself as big and visible as possible as opposed to tucking in off their drivers side immediately prior to opening up and zooming past, which leaves you in their blind spot far longer than if you had hung back and given them a longer opportunity to see you. Something I picked up on a Cambrisdgeshire Police sponsored Bike Safety Course. That made me a far more defensive rider and I never had so much as a close shave after that course. Observing the 60mph limit and riding according to the prevailing conditions is the easiest way to reduce the number of accidents (bike or otherwise) on this new stretch of road

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    Lucioperca

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

  • Having had a number of different drivers change lanes into me without looking, you don't have to be speeding or doing anything silly to have a close encounter with the central barrier. Given that some drivers go very slow, Lucioperca, are you suggesting that bikers have to tuck in behind the slowest vehicle to avoid any problems with the barrier, just in case someone tries to nudge them into it?

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    So_Many_Haters!

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

  • @Lucioperca Its worth pointing out that in something like 23 of motorbike accidents the fault is not the motorbike but another motorists inattention (often not seeing them). Its all very well asking bikers to pay more attention, but in many situations your suggestion wont help at all.

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    monkeynuts

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

  • I have seen slow-mo video of these barriers in action and its pretty impressive, they are designed to absorb impact rather than deflect it. They help prevent cars over-turning or being rebounded perpendicularly back across the other lanes. Given that over 95% of all road accidents are attributable to human error, the answer to bikers is simple (and I used to be one)pay more attention when you are travelling along a stretch with these barriers and maybe just ease back on the throttle and stay in the left hand lane until its passed.

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    Lucioperca

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

  • The Highways Agency say the barriers are suitable on straight stretches of road So accidents don't happen on straight sections of road? How reassuring! I don't think.

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    Dictate

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

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