The gay penguin traffic barrier

From Emily Menon Bender on Facebook today, reporting on one of her visual finds on a run while she’s on the road — in this case, in Chicago:

(1) Penguins in gay bow ties, ornamenting a portable concrete barrier stashed by the side of the Lakefront Trail, along the Lake Michigan shore

Two things here: the barrier, which is not just any concrete traffic barrier, but is of a very common design, which of course has a name, one you would never have predicted.

Then the trail itself, which is quite something.

The barrier. From Wikipedia:

A Jersey barrier, Jersey wall, or Jersey bump is a modular concrete or plastic barrier employed to separate lanes of traffic. It is designed to minimize vehicle damage in cases of incidental contact while still preventing vehicle crossovers resulting in a likely head-on collision. Jersey barriers are also used to reroute traffic and protect pedestrians and workers during highway construction.

… Although it is not clear exactly when or where the first concrete median barriers were used, concrete median barriers were used in the mid-1940s on U.S. Route 99 on the descent from the Tehachapi Mountains in the Central Valley south of Bakersfield, California. This first generation of concrete barriers was developed to (a) minimize the number of out-of-control trucks penetrating the barrier, and (b) eliminate the need for costly and dangerous median barrier maintenance in high-accident locations with narrow medians – concerns that are as valid today as they were 80 years ago.

The Jersey barrier … was developed in the 1950s (introduced in current form in 1959), at Stevens Institute of Technology, New Jersey,  … under the direction of the New Jersey State Highway Department to divide multiple lanes on a highway. A typical Jersey barrier stands 32 inches tall and is made of steel-reinforced poured concrete or plastic. Many are constructed with the embedded steel reinforcement protruding from each end, allowing them to be incorporated into permanent emplacements when linked to one another by sections of fresh concrete poured on-site.

Their widespread use in road construction has led to wide application as a generic, portable barrier during construction projects and temporary rerouting of traffic into stopgap carpool and rush-hour reversing highway lanes.

The Chicago Lakefront Trail.

(2) Map of the trail, from the ResearchGate site

From Wikipedia:

The Chicago Lakefront Trail is a 18.5-mile-long partial shared-use path for walking, jogging, skateboarding, and cycling, located along the western shore of Lake Michigan in Chicago, Illinois. The trail passes through and connects Chicago’s four major lakefront parks along with various beaches and recreational amenities. It also serves as a route for bicycle, skateboard and personal transporter commuters. On busy summer days 70,000 people use the trail.

No doubt it provides excellent rendezvous spots for gay penguins with some fashion sense.

One Response to “The gay penguin traffic barrier”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    I suppose it depends on what one means by “incidental”, but I’d expect more than minor vehicle damage from contact with a concrete Jersey barrier. Obviously safer than a head-on collision with an oncoming vehicle, but likely not negligible.

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