Wire Rope Barriers Are Expensive

The Swedish riders’ organisation SMC (Sveriges MotorCyklister) reports that, wire rope barriers can be expensive in the long run and says that risk to injury is also higher on roads fitted with wire rope systems.

SMC agree with a doctoral thesis which was recently completed by Karim Hawzheen, entitled – Road Design for Future Maintenance – Life-cycle Cost Analyses for Road.

Karim Hawzheen looks at repair rates for barriers and associated repair costs as one of the major maintenance costs for road barriers. He analyses the effect of several factors on barrier repairs costs, such as barrier type, road type, posted speed and seasonal effect.

The thesis also considers the injuries associated with road barrier collisions and the corresponding influencing factors. The results show significant differences in the number of injuries associated with collisions with different barrier types.

SMC says, “We should look at more than the investment cost when choosing which guardrails to put on the roads” and when selecting a guardrail type, “that it is a good road safety system for all road users”.

We hope that the Roads Service in Northern Ireland  can take note of this study and perhaps reconsider the extensive fitting and preference of choice of wire-rope barriers when building new roads or replacing older barrier systems.

These are some of the conclusions from the document:

The repair rate and the average repair cost per vehicle kilometre for median cable barriers is higher than for median w-beam barriers, regardless of road type.

The repair rate for median barriers along motorways can probably be almost halved by using w-beam barriers instead of cable barriers.

The rate of injuries associated with barrier collisions in Sweden is higher on roads equipped with cable barriers than on roads equipped with the other barrier types studied.


Road Design for Future Maintenance – Life-cycle Cost Analyses for Road Barriers – March 2011 pdf 1.78mb – Click Here

Crash Barriers on Right To Ride – Click Here

The Swedish Motorcyclists Association

SMC was formed in 1963 by a small group of motorcycle enthusiasts from all over Sweden, whose main aim was to inform members about 4 and parties. Today, SMC has 67,000 members out of a total of 260 000 motorcycle owners in Sweden! 400 motorcycle clubs are members of SMC.


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