Flexible solar panels placed on top of steel W-beam guardrails in Holland could be the answer to rider concerns about the safety of some barriers.
The solar panels create a smooth top on the guard rails, rather than the hazardous posts that stick on most of this type of barrier.
They are certainly much safer looking than wire rope barriers (WRBs) with their exposed posts.
They may also have the extra benefit of reaping financial returns in harvesting star energy.
Solar panels on trial
The solar panels have been installed by Dutch company Heijmans on a 12-month trial basis to see if energy can be generated in a “safe and sustainable manner for road lighting and matrix boards, or for supply to the electricity grid”.,
Company spokesman Vincent de Waal says the possible safety aspect for motorcycle riders was only pointed out after they installed the panels.
“The main target of the pilot project is to test the amount of energy we can collect and all other experiences in real life to see if the product can be feasible,” he says.
“We didn’t take in account the possibility the product could increase motorcycle safety. Up to now it was mainly not to reduce safety.
“We didn’t do a special crash test for motorcyclist. The product doesn’t influence the safety features of the guardrail and doesn’t form an additional obstacle. That’s why no extra tests where needed.”
Since the voltage in the panels is only 48V DC, it is not unsafe if a rider comes into contact with the barrier.
Safety for riders
The Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Association says the the barriers seem to offer a degree of safety for motorcyclist.
“What we see is a flexible and smooth construction, that does not affect the restraining capacity of the crash barrier, should be quite cheap to manufacture and is easy to install,” it says on its website.