Four days a week, all summer, I’ve been taking the train into Boston. And almost always, I look out the window. One of the things I see looking out the windows is barbed wired fences. Barbed wired fences make sense because obviously you want to discourage pedestrians from entering the railroad tracks and accompanying high voltage areas. However, I’ve noticed that along the railroad, sometimes the “arms” of the barbed wire face inward, and other times they face outward. So which way is it supposed to face to discourage intruders?
A little secret: I’ve personally have climbed a barbed wired fence. And the gist of it is that barbed wired fences only discourage people from crossing. Crossing is still possible. But logically, it is harder to climb barbed wired fences when the arms are facing toward you. Your body would have to hang diagonally, and it is very hard to get your legs over it, without touching the barbed wire. So in the picture above, it is harder to climb from right to left. Wikipedia agrees with me: “On some chain link fences these strands are attached to a bracket tilted 45 degrees towards the intruder, further increasing the difficulty [of climbing over].” And a picture of the “correct” way from wikipedia: Note how the arms are facing away from the property to keep intruders out.
So why then, do the barbed wired fences along the railroad sometimes face inward instead of outward? I’ve found this article that gives a couple reasons. But frankly, I think the people in charge of putting up the barbed wired fences along the tracks didn’t stop to think which way discouraged intruders most. Plus putting them up facing inwards does appear at a quick glance more protective, since it is kind of wrapping itself around the property, creating kind of a bubble illusion. But I could be wrong, and there may be a perfect reason for why barbed wired fences faces the direction it does.
But yeah . . . I notice these kind of things.