Title:
Expandable and contractible barrier
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An expandable barrier has segments that can expand and contract. When the segments are expanded to a use position, the barrier can be stable. When the segments are contracted to a transport or storage position, the barrier occupies a relatively small amount of space.



Inventors:
Perelli, Thomas (Winchester, VA, US)
Application Number:
10/308039
Publication Date:
10/23/2003
Filing Date:
12/03/2002
Assignee:
RUBBERMAID COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS LLC
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E01F13/02; (IPC1-7): E04H17/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MACARTHUR, VICTOR L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FOLEY & LARDNER LLP (WASHINGTON, DC, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. An expandable barrier comprising: a first end segment having a widthwise direction; and a plurality of middle segments each having a widthwise direction and being connected so as to expand to an open position in which the widthwise direction of at least one of the middle segments is substantially perpendicular to the widthwise direction of the end segment and contract to a closed position in which the widthwise directions of the middle segments are substantially parallel to the widthwise direction of the first end segment.

2. The expandable barrier of claim 1, wherein the first end segment includes an information display surface.

3. The expandable barrier of claim 1, wherein the first end segment includes a handle portion.

4. The expandable barrier of claim 1, further comprising an elongated securing member configured to fasten the plurality of middle segments in the closed position, wherein the first end segment includes a holding member for receiving the securing member.

5. The expandable barrier of claim 1, further comprising a second end segment, wherein the middle segments are disposed between the first and second end segments.

6. The expandable barrier of claim 1, wherein the plurality of middle segments are connected so as to contract by an accordion fold to the closed position.

7. The expandable barrier of claim 1, wherein at least one of the plurality of middle segments is a bridge segment connected to a mid-portion of the first end segment and connected to an end portion of an adjacent middle segment.

8. The expandable barrier of claim 7, wherein a width of the bridge segment is approximately one half of a width of the adjacent middle segment.

9. The expandable barrier of claim 7, further comprising a positioning mechanism configured to maintain the bridge segment at a position substantially perpendicular to the first end segment.

10. The expandable barrier of claim 1, further comprising a rolling member positioned on the first end segment such that during transport of the barrier the rolling member engages a surface supporting the barrier.

11. The expandable barrier of claim 10, wherein the rolling member is a wheel and the first end segment further comprises a plate member disposed on one side of the wheel to trap the wheel against another portion of the first end segment.

12. An expandable barrier comprising: a plurality of segments connected so as to expand to an open position and contract to a closed position; and an information display surface on at least one of the segments, wherein the segments are connected such that more of the information display surface becomes visible as the segments are expanded to the open position; and a rolling member connected to at least one of the plurality of segments such that during transport of the barrier the rolling member engages a surface supporting the barrier.

13. The expandable barrier of claim 12, further comprising an elongated securing member configured to fasten the plurality of segments in the closed position, wherein at least one of the segments includes a holding member for receiving the securing member.

14. The expandable barrier of claim 12, wherein the plurality of segments are connected so as to contract by an accordion fold to the closed position.

15. The expandable barrier of claim 12, wherein the rolling member is a wheel, the wheel is positioned on the segment, and the segment on which the wheel is positioned further comprises a plate member disposed on one side of the wheel to trap the wheel against another portion of the segment.

16. The expandable barrier of claim 12, further comprising a plurality of rolling members positioned on corresponding segments such that during transport of the barrier the rolling members engage a surface supporting the barrier.

17. The expandable barrier of claim 16, wherein positions of the rolling members on the segments are offset such that the rolling members do not engage one another when the segments are in the closed position.

18. A portable, expandable barrier comprising: a plurality of segments connected so as to expand to an open position and contract to a closed position; and a rolling member connected to at least one of the plurality of segments such that the segments can pivot about the rolling member between a rest position in which at least a portion of at least one of the segments engages a surface supporting the barrier, and a portable position in which the rolling member engages the surface.

19. The portable, expandable barrier of claim 18, wherein the rolling member is connected to a first end region of a bottom portion of the at least one segment, and the portion of the at least one segment that engages the surface is at disposed at a second end region of the bottom portion of the at least one segment.

20. The expandable barrier of claim 18, further comprising an elongated securing member configured to fasten the plurality of segments in the closed position.

21. The expandable barrier of claim 18, wherein the plurality of segments are connected so as to contract by an accordion fold to the closed position.

22. The expandable barrier of claim 18, wherein the rolling member is a wheel, the wheel is positioned on the segment, and the segment on which the wheel is positioned further comprises a plate member disposed on one side of the wheel to trap the wheel against another portion of the segment.

23. The expandable barrier of claim 18, further comprising a plurality of rolling members positioned on corresponding segments such that during transport of the barrier the rolling members engage a surface supporting the barrier.

24. The expandable barrier of claim 23, wherein positions of the rolling members on the segments are offset such that the rolling members do not engage one another when the middle segments are in the closed position.

25. A portable, expandable barrier comprising: a plurality of segments each having a depth and a width, the segments being connected so as to expand to an open position in which a length of the segments is substantially a sum of the widths of the segments, and to contract to a closed position in which a length of the segments is substantially a sum of the depths of the segments; and a rolling member connected to the segments such that during transport of the barrier the rolling member engages a surface supporting the barrier.

26. The expandable barrier of claim 25, wherein the width of a segment is at least four times the depth of the segment.

27. The expandable barrier of claim 25, further comprising an elongated securing member configured to fasten the plurality of segments in the closed position.

28. The expandable barrier of claim 25, wherein the plurality of segments are connected so as to contract by an accordion fold to the closed position.

29. The expandable barrier of claim 25, wherein the rolling member is a wheel, the wheel is positioned on the segment, and the segment on which the wheel is positioned further comprises a plate member disposed on one side of the wheel to trap the wheel against another portion of the segment.

30. The expandable barrier of claim 25, further comprising a plurality of rolling members positioned on corresponding segments such that during transport of the barrier the rolling members engage a surface supporting the barrier.

31. The expandable barrier of claim 30, wherein positions of the rolling members on the segments are offset such that the rolling members do not engage one another when the segments are in the closed position.

32. A portable, expandable barrier comprising a plurality of segments connected so as to expand to an open position and contract to a closed position, each of the segments having a height dimension defined between a top and a bottom of the segment, wherein the segments have substantially the same height in the open and closed positions; an information display surface on at least one of the segments; and a rolling member connected to at least one of the segments such that during transport of the barrier the rolling member engages a surface supporting the barrier.

33. The expandable barrier of claim 32, further comprising an elongated securing member configured to fasten the plurality of segments in the closed position.

34. The expandable barrier of claim 32, wherein the plurality of segments are connected so as to contract by an accordion fold to the closed position.

35. The expandable barrier of claim 32, wherein the rolling member is a wheel, the wheel is positioned on the segment, and the segment on which the wheel is positioned further comprises a plate member disposed on one side of the wheel to trap the wheel against another portion of the segment.

36. The expandable barrier of claim 32, further comprising a plurality of rolling members positioned on corresponding segments such that during transport of the barrier the rolling members engage a surface supporting the barrier.

37. The expandable barrier of claim 36, wherein positions of the rolling members on the segments are offset such that the rolling members do not engage one another when the segments are in the closed position.

38. An expandable barrier comprising: first and second end segments; a rolling member positioned on at least one of the first and second end segments such that during transport of the barrier the rolling member engages a surface supporting the barrier; and a plurality of middle segments disposed between the first and second end segments and connected so as to expand to an open position and contract to a closed position, wherein the middle segments are configured to engage the surface when in the open position.

39. The expandable barrier of claim 38, wherein the first end segment includes an information display surface.

40. The expandable barrier of claim 38, wherein the first end segment includes a handle portion.

41. The expandable barrier of claim 38, further comprising an elongated securing member configured to fasten the plurality of middle segments in the closed position.

42. The expandable barrier of claim 38, wherein the plurality of middle segments are connected so as to contract by an accordion fold to the closed position.

43. The expandable barrier of claim 38, wherein at least one of the plurality of middle segments is a bridge segment connected to a mid-portion of the first end segment and connected to an end portion of an adjacent middle segment.

44. The expandable barrier of claim 43, wherein a width of the bridge segment is approximately one half of a width of the adjacent middle segment.

45. The expandable barrier of claim 44, further comprising a positioning mechanism configured to maintain the bridge segment at a position substantially perpendicular to the first end segment.

46. The expandable barrier of claim 38, wherein the rolling member is a wheel and the at least one of first and second end segments on which the wheel is positioned further comprises a plate member disposed on one side of the wheel to trap the wheel against another portion of that segment.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The present invention relates to a barrier and, more particularly, to an expandable and contractible barrier that can be portable.

[0003] 2. Description of Related Art

[0004] Barricades are often used to prevent access to unsafe areas or otherwise control pedestrian or vehicle traffic. Known conventional barricades typically do not provide a desired combination of transportability, ease of storage, and visibility.

[0005] Many barricades are difficult to transport. For example, some barricades must be disassembled for transport. Consequently, those barricades require significant time and labor for disassembly and assembly of the barricade. Some barricades have been provided with wheels. For example, a smaller barricade has been provided with four wheels that support the barricade. That barricade is difficult to transport over bumps or thresholds and can be prone to tipping due to its high center of gravity. As another example, a large and heavy A-frame type barricade has been provided with four wheels, but those wheels appear to be intended for positioning and not for transport. Moreover, it would be difficult to transport more than one of the large A-frame barricade segments at a given time. Thus, the presently known barricades do not provide the desired transportability.

[0006] Barricades that facilitate storage have not provided the desired degree of visibility. For example, a conventional barricade has a scissors-like construction that permits it to change from an expanded, use position to a contracted, storage position. Such a barricade can lack a high degree of visibility. For example, it can have large areas of empty space between the scissors-like barricade pieces and the height of the scissors-like barricade pieces decreases as the pieces are expanded. Thus, it is more difficult for the public to notice the barricade. Such a barricade also may lack room for displaying safety messages on the barricade itself. A separate safety sign may be attached to the barricade, but this increases cost and effort. Also, the sign may have to be removed to permit folding of the barricade, and then be separately stored so that it does not become damaged. Consequently, the presently known barricades do not provide the desired combination of ease of storage and visibility.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] An aspect of the present invention relates to an expandable barrier comprising a first end segment having a widthwise direction, and a plurality of middle segments each having a widthwise direction. The middle segments are connected so as to expand to an open position in which the widthwise direction of at least one of the middle segments is substantially perpendicular to the widthwise direction of the end segment and contract to a closed position in which the widthwise directions of the middle segments are substantially parallel to the widthwise direction of the first end segment.

[0008] Another aspect of the present invention relates to an expandable barrier comprising a plurality of segments connected so as to expand to an open position and contract to a closed position, and an information display surface on at least one of the segments. The segments are connected such that more of the information display surface becomes visible as the segments are expanded to the open position. The barrier further includes a rolling member connected to at least one of the plurality of segments such that during transport of the barrier the rolling member engages a surface supporting the barrier.

[0009] Yet another aspect of the present invention relates to a portable, expandable barrier comprising a plurality of segments connected so as to expand to an open position and contract to a closed position, and a rolling member connected to at least one of the plurality of segments such that the segments can pivot about the rolling member between a rest position in which at least a portion of at least one of the segments engages a surface supporting the barrier, and a portable position in which the rolling member engages the surface.

[0010] Yet another aspect of the present invention relates to a portable, expandable barrier comprising a plurality of segments each having a depth and a width. The segments are connected so as to expand to an open position in which a length of the segments is substantially a sum of the widths of the segments, and to contract to a closed position in which a length of the segments is substantially a sum of the depths of the segments. The barrier further includes a rolling member connected to the segments such that during transport of the barrier the rolling member engages a surface supporting the barrier.

[0011] Yet another aspect of the present invention relates to a portable, expandable barrier comprising a plurality of segments connected so as to expand to an open position and contract to a closed position, each of the segments having a height dimension defined between a top and a bottom of the segment, wherein the segments have substantially the same height in the open and closed positions. The barrier further includes an information display surface on at least one of the segments, and a rolling member connected to at least one of the segments such that during transport of the barrier the rolling member engages a surface supporting the barrier.

[0012] Yet another aspect of the present invention relates to an expandable barrier comprising first and second end segments, a rolling member positioned on at least one of the first and second end segments such that during transport of the barrier the rolling member engages a surface supporting the barrier, and a plurality of middle segments disposed between the first and second end segments and connected so as to expand to an open position and contract to a closed position. The middle segments are configured to engage the surface when in the open position.

[0013] It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory only and are not restrictive of the invention, as claimed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this specification, illustrate preferred embodiments of the invention and together with the description, serve to explain principles of the invention.

[0015] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of a barrier according to the present invention in an expanded position.

[0016] FIG. 2 is a front view of the barrier of FIG. 1 in the expanded position.

[0017] FIG. 3 is a plan view of the barrier of FIG. 1 in the expanded position.

[0018] FIG. 3A shows a stop spacer in a segment of the barrier of FIG. 1.

[0019] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the barrier of FIG. 1 in the contracted position.

[0020] FIG. 5 is a front view of the barrier of FIG. 1 in the contracted position.

[0021] FIG. 6 is a front view of a middle segment of the barrier of FIG. 1.

[0022] FIG. 7 is a front view of a bridge segment of the barrier of FIG. 1.

[0023] FIG. 8 is an inner side view of an end segment of the barrier of FIG. 1.

[0024] FIG. 9 is an outer side view of the barrier of FIG. 1 in the contracted position and pivoted for transport.

[0025] FIG. 10 is an exploded, perspective view of a portion of the end segment and a rolling member of the barrier of FIG. 1.

[0026] FIG. 11 is a partial cross-sectional view showing a positioning mechanism on the barrier of FIG. 1.

[0027] FIG. 12 is a side view of a member for holding a securing member of the barrier of FIG. 1.

[0028] FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of a barrier according to the present invention in an expanded position.

[0029] FIG. 14 is a front view of the barrier of FIG. 13 in the expanded position.

[0030] FIG. 15 is a perspective view of the barrier of FIG. 13 in a contracted position.

[0031] FIG. 16 is a side view of the barrier of FIG. 13 in the contracted position.

[0032] FIG. 17 is a plan view of the barrier of FIG. 13 in the contracted position.

[0033] FIG. 18 is a front view of a segment of the barrier of FIG. 13.

[0034] FIG. 19 is a front view of another segment of the barrier of FIG. 13.

[0035] FIG. 20 is an exploded perspective view of the connection between segments of the barrier of FIG. 13.

[0036] FIG. 21 is an exploded, perspective view of the connection between segments of the barrier of FIG. 13.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0037] Reference will now be made in detail to presently preferred embodiments of the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. An effort has been made to use the same reference numbers throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like parts.

[0038] FIGS. 1 to 12 show a first preferred embodiment of an expandable barrier 10 according to the present invention. In this embodiment, the barrier includes end segments 20, middle segments 30, positioning mechanisms 40, and rolling members 50. The barrier 10 can move between an expanded position shown in FIGS. 1 to 3 and a contracted position shown in FIGS. 4 and 5.

[0039] The end segments 20 are preferably located at opposite ends of the barrier 10. The end segments 20 can stabilize and support the barrier 10 when it is in the expanded position. The segments 20 also can support the barrier 10 when it is in the contracted position to facilitate transport of the barrier 10.

[0040] Each end segment 20 preferably includes a peripheral member 21 extending around the periphery of the end segment 20, cross members 22, and openings between the cross members 22. Alternatively, the areas corresponding to the openings can be closed, i.e., filled with material. If those areas are closed, they preferably are recessed, i.e., they have a lesser thickness than surrounding portions of the end segment 20, to increase rigidity. A handle portion 24 can be provided at the top of the end segment 20, as shown, or at other locations, such as the side. Each end segment 20 preferably also includes flared portions 25, which enhance stability. The flared portions 25 also can be configured to receive the rolling members 50, as explained below. The peripheral member 21, cross members 22, handle portion 24, and flared portions 25 are preferably hollow, plastic members that are all formed as one integral member. The end segments 20 can be manufactured by conventional processes, such as high or low pressure injection molding or blow molding.

[0041] Each end segment 20 preferably includes a relatively large information display area 23. The information display area 23 can have dimensions of, for example, six inches high by nine inches wide. This area 23 can be used, for example, to display warning information, such as “CAUTION” or “DO NOT ENTER.” Information also could be displayed on the cross members 22.

[0042] Each end segment 20 has a width W, a depth D, and a height H (see FIGS. 2 and 8). Preferably, the width W is eighteen inches, the depth D is one and three quarter inches, and the height H is thirty-nine inches. In the preferred embodiment, the end segments 20 do not have a constant depth along the widthwise direction. Instead, the end segment 20 is hollowed out to the depth of the directly attached middle segment 30 (the depth of the ribs 27 is smaller than the depth of the edge section 28 by the depth of the directly attached middle segment 30) to receive the directly attached middle segment 30 so that it can nest in the end segment 20. Alternatively, only a portion, e.g., one half, of each end segment 20 can be hollowed out to receive the directly attached middle segment 30. In such a configuration, the end segment 20 can be constructed to facilitate positioning of the attached middle segment 30 by, for example, providing a step via the change in depth of the end segment 20, which serves as a stop for inhibiting the middle segment 30 from opening beyond a desired position.

[0043] The middle segments 30 can be located between the end segments 20. The middle segments 30 facilitate the expansion and contraction of the barrier 10 and can provide large areas for information display.

[0044] Each middle segment 30 preferably includes a peripheral member 31 extending around the periphery of the middle segment 30, cross members 32, and openings between the cross members 32. The areas corresponding to the openings, however, can be closed, i.e., filled with material. If those areas are closed, they preferably are recessed, i.e., they have a lesser thickness than surrounding portions of the middle segment 30, to increase rigidity. The peripheral member 31 and cross members 32 are preferably hollow, plastic members that are all formed as one integral member. The middle segments 30 can be manufactured by conventional processes, such as high or low pressure injection molding or blow molding.

[0045] The middle segments 30 are preferably connected to each other and the end segments 20 by hinge structures 33. The hinge structures 33 can include a pin 34 and a pin receiver 35 (see FIGS. 6 to 8). The hinge structures 33 can be positioned on alternating sides of the middle segments 30, as shown in FIG. 3, to allow the middle segments 30 to expand and contract by an accordion fold. This allows for great flexibility of the barrier 10.

[0046] The middle segments 30 can include inner segments 38 and two bridge segments 39.

[0047] Inner segments 38 typically form the majority of the overall length of the barrier 10. Inner segments 38 can be added to or removed from the barrier 10 to increase or decrease, respectively, the length of the barrier. The inner segments 38 preferably have a width W of twelve inches, a depth D of three quarter inches, and a height H of thirty six inches (see FIGS. 5 to 7). The inner segments 38 preferably include a relatively large information display area 36. The information display area 36 can have dimensions of, for example, six inches high by nine inches wide. The information display areas 36 make the barrier 10 highly noticeable. Information also could be displayed on the cross members 32.

[0048] Each bridge segment 39 extends between a respective end segment 20 and an inner segment 38. The bridge segments 39 can have the same dimensions as the inner segments 38, except the width W of a bridge segment 39 preferably is one half that of an inner segment 38.

[0049] The positioning mechanism 40 (see FIG. 11) is provided to hold the bridge segment 39 in the open position. The positioning mechanism 40 can include a projection 41 extending from the bridge segment 39 that engages with a detent 42 provided in the corresponding end segment 20, as shown in FIG. 11. The positioning mechanism 40 can be configured to hold the bridge segment 39 at any desired angle relative to the end segment 20, but preferably it maintains the bridge segment 39 substantially perpendicular (i.e., at an angle of 90 degrees) to the corresponding end segment 20.

[0050] This configuration can provide a stable barrier that can be expanded to a large length for use yet contracted to a small length for storage. In particular, the middle segments 30 can be contracted to a closed position in which the widthwise directions of the middle segments 30 are substantially parallel to the widthwise directions of the end segments 20, as shown in FIG. 5. In the contracted position, the middle segments 30 have a length L1, which is substantially the sum of the depths of the middle segments 30. The middle segments 30 also can expand to an open position in which the widthwise direction of at least one, and preferably all, of the middle segments 30 is substantially perpendicular to the widthwise direction of the end segments 20, as shown in FIG. 3. In the expanded position, the middle segments 30 have a length L2, which is substantially the sum of the widths of the middle segments 30. As shown, there can be large difference between the length in the expanded or use position and the length in the contracted or storage position.

[0051] The middle segments 30 of the barrier 10 can extend in a relatively straight line. To facilitate closing of the barrier 10, preferably each middle segment 30 has a stop spacer 37 (see FIG. 3A) that causes the segments 30 to be offset by a minimum angle of about three to five degrees relative to one another (i.e., the segments will be offset about three to five degrees relative to a straight line extending between the end segments 20). This offset allows the barrier 10 to close smoothly without locking up, as might occur if the middle segments 30 were completely aligned. The offset starts the middle segments toward the closed position.

[0052] Rolling members 50 are preferably provided on the end segments 20. The rolling members 50 can be, for example, wheels mounted to the end segments 20. The rolling members 50 are preferably mounted by an axle 51 that extends through a plate 52 and is fixed to the end segment 20. The stability of the rolling member 50 is improved when it is trapped between the plate 52 and ribs 26 on the end segment 20.

[0053] The barrier 10 can be pivoted about the rolling members 50 between a rest position in which the end segments 20 contact the ground and a portable position in which the rolling members 50 engage the ground. The rolling members 50 are preferably approximately level with the bottom of the barrier 10 when the bottoms of the end segments 20 are resting on the ground, as shown in FIG. 1. When the folded barrier 10 is tilted backwards, as shown in FIG. 9, the rolling members 50 will support it. The barrier 10 can then be pushed or pulled for transport, as shown in FIG. 20.

[0054] An elongated securing member 60, such as a rubber band or bungee cord can be attached to the barrier 10 to hold it in the contracted position, as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. For example, the securing member can be fit through a holding member 61 (see FIG. 12), such as a slot, in the end segment 20 and wrapped around the segments and affixed to another a holding member 61 in the other end segment 20. Each holding member 61 is preferably configured to hold the elongated securing member 60 even when it is loosely hanging from only one holding member 61.

[0055] The barrier 10 of the present invention can be configured to provide a highly stable barrier. By positioning the middle segments 30 substantially perpendicular to the end segments 20, the stability of the barrier is improved. Of course, stability is also enhanced if only the bridge segments 39 are perpendicular to the respective end segments 20, and the inner segments 38 are formed in a curved or other configuration. Additionally, the middle segments 30 can be configured to touch the ground when in the expanded position, which further improves stability.

[0056] FIGS. 13 to 21 show a second preferred embodiment of an expandable barrier 110 according to the present invention. In this embodiment, the barrier includes segments 120 and rolling members 150. The barrier 110 can move between an expanded position shown in FIGS. 13 and 14 and a contracted position shown in FIGS. 15 to 17.

[0057] The segments 120 preferably include a plurality of first segments 130 and a plurality of second segments 140. The different segments are alternated in this embodiment.

[0058] As shown in FIG. 18, each first segment 130 preferably includes a peripheral member 131 extending around the periphery of the first segment 130, an inner member 135, cross members 132, and openings between the cross members 132. Alternatively, the areas corresponding to the openings can be closed, i.e., filled with material. If those areas are closed, they preferably are recessed, i.e., they have a lesser thickness than surrounding portions of the first segment 130, to increase rigidity. A handle portion 134 can be provided at each side of the first segment 130, as shown, or at other locations, such as the top. The peripheral member 131, inner member 135, cross members 132, and handle portions 134 are preferably hollow, plastic members that are all formed as one integral member. The end segments 130 can be manufactured by conventional processes, such as high or low pressure injection molding or blow molding.

[0059] Each first segment 130 preferably includes a relatively large information display area 133. The information display area 133 can have dimensions of, for example, ten inches high by fourteen inches wide. This area 133 can be used, for example, to display warning information, such as “CAUTION” or “DO NOT ENTER.” Information also could be displayed on the inner member 135 or the cross members 132.

[0060] Each first segment 130 has a width W, a depth D, and a height H (see FIGS. 17 and 18). Preferably, the width W is forty-eight inches, the depth D is two inches, and the height H is thirty-four inches (between the bottom and the top of the first segment). The rolling members 150 in this preferred embodiment add an additional five inches of height.

[0061] The second segments 140 can be located between the first segments 130. As shown in FIG. 19, each second segment 140 preferably includes a peripheral member 141 extending around the periphery of the second segment 140, an inner member 145, cross members 142, and openings between the cross members 142. The areas corresponding to the openings, however, can be closed, i.e., filled with material. If those areas are closed, they preferably are recessed, i.e., they have a lesser thickness than surrounding portions of the second segment 140, to increase rigidity. The peripheral member 141, inner member 145, and cross members 142 are preferably hollow, plastic members that are all formed as one integral member. The second segments 140 can be manufactured by conventional processes, such as high or low pressure injection molding or blow molding. Signs or other information display areas (not shown) can be attached to the second segment 140. Information also could be displayed on the inner member 145 or the cross members 142.

[0062] The first and second segments 130, 140 are preferably connected to each other by hinge structures 160. As shown in FIGS. 20 and 21, the hinge structures 160 can include a rod 161, rod receivers 136 on the first segment 130, and a rod receiver 146 on the second segment 140. The rod receiver 136 can be a hole formed in the handle portion 134 of the first segment 130. The rod receivers 146 can be living hinge structures that close on the rod 161. A bolt 163 can extend through one portion of the living hinge structure, through the rod 161, through another portion of the living hinge structure, and mate with a nut 164 (not shown in FIG. 20).

[0063] The hinge structures 160 are configured to permit the first and second segments 130, 140 to expand and contract by an accordion fold. This allows for great flexibility of the barrier 10. This configuration can provide a barrier that can be expanded to a large length for use yet contracted to a small length for storage. In particular, the first and second segments can be contracted to a closed position in which their widthwise directions are substantially parallel to one another, as shown in FIG. 17. The folding of the segments is facilitated by the structure of the rod receivers 146 of the second segments 140. In particular, as shown in FIG. 17, the rod receivers 146 have an arc like structure that permits nesting of the segments. In the contracted position, the first and second segments 130, 140 have a length L1, which is substantially the sum of the depths of the first and second segments 130, 140. The first and second segments 130, 140 also can expand to an open position in which they are arranged in a line. In such an expanded position, the first and second segments 130, 140 have a length L2 (see FIG. 14), which is substantially the sum of the widths of the first and second segments 130, 140. As shown, there can be large difference between the length in the expanded or use position and the length in the contracted or storage position.

[0064] Rolling members 150 are preferably provided on the first segments 130 disposed at opposing ends of the barrier 110, and on some of the rods 161. The rolling members 150 can be, for example, casters. The rolling members 150 are positioned such that they will not interfere when the segments are in the contracted position.

[0065] An elongated securing member 170, such as a strap with Velcro, can be attached to the barrier 110 to hold it in the contracted position, as shown in FIG. 15. For example, the securing member 170 can be attached to a handle portion 134 and wrapped around the segments and affixed to itself.

[0066] Both of the above-described barriers 10 and 110 of the present invention can be configured facilitate storage. The barriers 10, 110 can expand to large lengths for use, yet contract to small lengths for storage.

[0067] The barricades 10 and 110 also can be configured to facilitate transport. For example, the barricades 10, 110 have rolling members 50, 150, which dispense with the need for a cart or truck to move barricade segments. Moreover, all segments of the barricades 10, 110 can be moved simultaneously because the barricades contract to relatively small configurations. The barricade 10 is particularly advantageous because its configuration allows the barricade 10 to move to the position shown in FIG. 9 for transport, which makes it relatively easy to pull the barricade 10 over bumps or thresholds. Additionally, as the barricade 10 is moved to the position shown in FIG. 9, its center of gravity is lowered and it thus becomes less prone to tipping.

[0068] Additionally, both of the above-described barriers 10 and 110 can be configured to facilitate the display of information, while maintaining the ability to easily store and transport the barrier. For example, as the segments 30, 120 are expanded to the open position, more of the information display surfaces 36, 133 become visible. Additionally, the height of the segments 30, 120 remains substantially the same as the segments 30, 120 are expanded to the open position. Each of those characteristics can make the barriers highly visible.

[0069] The barriers 10, 110 of the present invention also can be adaptable to a particular user's needs, i.e., the concept can be modular. For example, if a user of a barrier 10, 110 having four segments 30, 120 wants to encompass a larger area, the user may purchase as many additional segments 30, 120 as necessary, and connect them to the original four segments 30, 120. This allows the user to purchase the barrier at a selected length and add more segments at a later time in response to changing needs. Additionally, multiple barriers 10, 120 can be fastened together, e.g., by using the securing member 60, 170 to create a single, larger barrier.

[0070] Additionally, the barriers 10, 110 can be set in almost any desired position for use. The segments 30, 120 can be fully extended until they are in a straight line, but they do not have to be fully expanded. They can be only partially expanded or arranged in a non-linear configuration.

[0071] Other embodiments of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice of the invention disclosed herein. It is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with a true scope and spirit of the invention being indicated by the following claims.