Bollards are the unsung heroes of traffic control and site security. You see them everywhere but pay little heed to these upstanding metal and plastic citizens dutifully directing you. Bollards come in different shapes and sizes, and they serve different roles like protecting buildings, blocking pathways and managing vehicle traffic. There are bollards for government purposes, for restaurants and for event venues.
Isn’t “bollard” a funny-sounding name? You probably don’t know when and why these sturdy and silent creatures gained their title. It comes from the old English word “bole” which means a tree trunk. Also known as “pylons,” bollards have been around for hundreds of years and have evolved with the times. Today’s safety bollards can be quite attractive, replacing concrete barriers and barbed wire that can make security seem threatening.
Envision the typical old-western trading post. Wooden hitched fences prevented horses from riding up on boardwalks just like today’s decorative metal bollards stop unauthorized vehicles from entering fire lanes and school playgrounds.
These quiet sentinels ask little in return for services rendered. Removable, reliable and even aesthetic, bollards serve to and protect public spaces.
What Are Bollards?
In their simplest state, bollards are metal posts rooted in the ground to block vehicle access. This could mean protecting a fire lane or path, preventing contact against buildings or venues, or shielding fences or landscaping. Bollards are typically evenly-spaced across an area to keep vehicles out while still allowing a path for pedestrians, strollers and bicycles.
But bollards can be more complex. Some are removable — you can manually detach them and set them aside for temporary vehicle access. Bollards can even be automatically activated through hydraulic or pneumatic pressure. They come in architectural designs that blend into the landscape, appearing aesthetically-pleasing while still providing impact-resistance. High-tech bollards are equipped with electric illumination and photo-luminescent reflective coatings to make them stand out in any lighting.
Bollards are also built of various materials. Concrete-filled steel posts are most common, followed by stainless steel and aluminum. Along roadways, you’ll see polymer plastic bollards that withstand occasional collisions and come back standing. There are also collapsible bollards that can be folded and stored when not in service.
Categories of Bollards
Some bollards are more decorative than practical. They delineate foot and vehicle traffic, preventing a jumble of disorganization. Other bollards perform safety duties. They stop drivers from potentially accelerating into storefronts. And then there’s the security detail. These tough guys stand ready to block intentional intrusion from robbers or vandals.
So, bollards can be separated into three distinct categories:
- Decorative bollards have low impact ratings. They’re designed to identify paths and walks while discouraging vehicle traffic. Most are installed four to six feet apart and are usually bolted to the ground. Common materials are plastic, aluminum and light-gauge steel.
- Safety bollards are rated for medium impact. Usually, they stop rolling vehicles or prevent accidental movement against building fronts. You’ll often see safety bollards in front of utility services like gas meters and electrical boxes. These safety devices can be closer together and are fixed into the ground with concrete sleeves and footings. Safety bollards incorporate heavier materials, like concrete-filled tubes or thick-walled steel.
- Security bollards are heavy-duty. They’re made to take high impacts from fast-moving vehicles or heavy trucks with full loads. They also prevent intentional intrusion from criminal acts. Security bollards often have wider diameters than safety bollards. Their strength lies in mass, but they can also be designed with a decent
All three bollard categories are proven public commodities. The Storefront Safety Council, which strives to raise bollard awareness and prevent accidental crashes, reports that uncontrolled vehicle damage occurs more than 60 times per day, causing 4,000 annual injuries and up to 500 preventable deaths. Bollards do more than stop runaway cars. They create order, and their presence alone can lower site insurance rates.
Let’s look at some bollard applications and how these robust resisters make our communities safer and more organized.
Industries That Use Bollards
From light retail facilities to heavy industrial factories, every industry uses bollards in some capacity. Stores and malls incorporate decorative posts and barriers for festive occasions when seasonal demand peaks. Offices and restaurants permanently set bollards as part of their safety and security defense rings. In the spectrum’s middle are sports venues and entertainment centers. There’s also the host of government institutions that can be caught off guard without extensive bollard protection as well.
The most common place for bollards is in parking facilities. They appear in lots at your local library or grocery store, in an underground or overhead multi-level parking enclosure, or at the airport or train station. No matter where you’re parking, you’ll find the industry has made some creative use of various types of bollard design and implementation.
From businesses to parking facilities, here are some of the main industries where you’ll find bollards:
- Government buildings: Legislative buildings, courthouses, police stations, fire departments and ambulance garages all use bollards to protect property and identify traffic flow. At all levels, the government takes increased terrorist risk seriously and protects its facilities with safe and secure bollards.
Benefits of using bollards for government buildings include keeping visitors safe when touring government buildings and prohibiting vehicle access from restricted areas. Recommended types of bollards for government buildings differ depending on the area, but you likely will want a stronger crash-rated bollard, such as a safety or security bollard. Keep in mind you can always add a cast iron bollard cover to maintain aesthetic and safety requirements.
- Transportation centers: Airports, railway stations and public transit depots experience a high daily traffic flow of people and vehicles. Taxis shuttle passengers to and from long-distance travel vehicles like planes, trains and buses. Every transportation center will need to incorporate bollards to separate and organize safe traffic flow.
Bollards are beneficial to transportation centers because they regulate pathways, directions and designated areas to prevent vehicle accidents and assist passengers in finding their gates or stations, which also helps employees regulate safety and security. Security bollards are the best type for transportation centers because they’re heavy-duty, high-impact and long-lasting.
- Warehouses: Thousands of warehouses across the nation need bollards to protect shipping and receiving bays. Benefits of using bollards in warehouses include protection from accidental or intentional crashes, designation of areas and direction and subsequent prevention of accidents involving heavy machinery.
Safety and security bollards are the best types to use in warehouses, directing truckers on where to load and when to stop. Many warehouse bollards are lighted or highly reflective, so they’re instantly spottable in headlights and mirrors.
- Toll booths: Toll booths are one of the highest-risk workplaces when it comes to moving vehicles. Booths are situated in or near tunnels, on bridges and in parking lots. Drivers approaching toll booths are easily distracted, which can cause quick collisions. Next time you’re at a toll booth, take a look. You’re sure to see bollard protection.
- Shopping malls: You’re probably at the mall on a regular basis. When was the last time you stopped to see how many bollards are in place? They’re guarding the cart stand and blocking the base of outdoor escalators. Bollards stand at intersections and protect building corners. You’ll likely even notice bollards in front of garbage and recycling containers.
Malls need bollards to maintain traffic flow, provide directional regulation, protect sites during temporary events and stop crashes. An additional benefit of permanent bollards in malls is the prevention of raiding and thieving in luxury stores. Security bollards can be used as permanent fixtures and removable bollards are ideal for temporary events.
- Restaurants and boutiques: The next time you’re parking at your favorite shop or eatery, notice the bollards all around you. Most will have a decorative flair to hide their practical purpose. Parking spots and sidewalks creatively coexist with bollards to make sure the interaction between people and products is safe and secure.
Food businesses and storefronts need bollards to regulate traffic, provide entrance indicators and keep cars from accidental or intentional crashes into the buildings. Bollards benefit restaurants and boutiques by serving as stable, permanent barriers, directing and protecting vehicles and customers and preventing robberies. For optimal protection, security bollards are the best business choice.
- Stadiums and entertainment venues: Large venues mean bollards everywhere. Stadiums need functional bollards to do more than regulate where cars park and people exit. They also let queues line up in an orderly fashion and designate event security.
In addition to these benefits, bollards protect high-risk areas from intentional intrusion and prevent mass injuries from out-of-control vehicles. For maximum security and protection, the recommended bollard types for stadiums are safety and security bollards.
What to Consider When Purchasing Bollards
In any venue that combines buildings, vehicles and pedestrians, purchasers strategically place bollards for various uses. Bollards are becoming much more of a requirement no matter the industry. Based on your role in the purchasing process, there are several considerations to think about when selecting bollard types and placement.
- Business Owners: Business owners place bollards at their front doors, in their parking lots and on their delivery bays. When selecting bollards, businesses must consider the safety of their customers and storefronts. The cost of one bollard may save thousands of dollars in property damage or personal injury, which impacts business bottom lines.
- City planners: Because city planners must integrate safety with security to protect public spaces and buildings, they must think about traffic guidelines, citizen safety, street regulations, public events, community needs and even the aesthetic considerations of the buildings they protect. City planners use combinations of fixed and removable bollards to accommodate the public.
- Contractors: When performing a service, providing manual labor or overseeing construction, contractors must consider the safety of people and property, the regulation of work zones and the reduction of liability. Bollards are important aspects of designating proper zoning and keeping the public out.
- Property managers: Whether properties are private or corporate, property managers must always consider the importance of asset protection and the safety of their customers or tenants. Prime property managers make sure bollards provide aesthetic interest and protect property values.
- Schools, universities and educational facility managers: Those in charge of grounds management for educational facilities must consider pedestrian and vehicle traffic, student safety and property regulations when choosing bollards to regulate campus sites. They use decorative, safety and security bollards throughout their grounds to give a subtle suggestion without an overbearing security appearance.
Incorporating Aesthetics Into Bollard Safety
Today’s bollards have evolved into highly-sophisticated structures. At first glance, you might not think that the structure blocking or directing you is another bollard. Designers use shapes, color and light to transform bollards into art pieces that remain functional products.
Creating a bollard that’s safe and eye-pleasing is impressive. Designers have a wide choice of materials, surfaces and finishes to work with. They use different sizes and mechanical functions and blend them with markings that stand out for safety and pleasure. Here are examples of incorporating aesthetics into bollard safety:
- High visibility: Hi-vis coatings are painted or wrapped onto bollard surfaces.
- Illumination: Different lighting techniques use high-tech illumination.
- Color: Coordinating colors blend bollards with architectural design.
- Branding: Branding is a basic way to make bollards look nicer by incorporating corporate logos and insignias.
- Coverings: Plastic and polymer wraps protect bollards, giving a permanent look.
Obviously, bollards need to go beyond attractiveness. They have to be strong, durable and able to withstand their designed impact load. You might be surprised to learn that quality, American-made bollards undergo testing by a government agency. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has a rigorous protocol called the ASTM F3016-14 Surrogate Testing of Vehicle Impact Protective Devices at Low Speeds. Because bollards are so essential for safety, it’s crucial to ensure they offer proper functionality as well as a pleasing appearance.
Popular Bollard Types
There’s a wide range of bollard styles and configurations. Creative designers come up with bollard types for every situation. That can mean simple and inexpensive bollards blocking a laneway to highly automated bollards guarding military installations.
Bollards come in models to fit every budget. Here are the most popular bollard types:
- Fixed bollards: These are the simplest and most budget-friendly. Most fixed bollards are concrete-filled steel. They’re either embedded into the ground on a footing or bolted to the surface.
- Removable bollards: Removable types are common in lanes and entrances to delivery stations. Most of their service is stationary and upright, but they can be unlocked and removed when temporary access is required. Like fixed bollards, removable ones are relatively inexpensive.
- Manual bollards: These are extensions of removable bollards. You can manually lift them from their base mounts and store them aside while temporarily opening a passage.
- Automatic bollards: These temporary traffic control devices are used where speed and convenience dictate that manual operation is inefficient. They come in hydraulic and pneumatic actions and can be costly.
- Lighted bollards: Very popular along pathways and property edges, lighted bollards are safe and secure as well as highly decorative. Prices relate to design and lighting types.
- Decorative bollards: You can think of decorative bollards as friendly reminders to behave in the parking lot or as guides for the front door of a business. While not particularly meant to be safe and secure, decorative bollards add class and style to parking lots and business fronts.
Let Blockaides Provide You With Safe and Secure Bollards
The next time you’re out and about, take time to appreciate the lowly bollards. They’re an underrated part of security in our society. Bollards can also make your outing a bit more pleasurable when you notice how creatively venues use them. From government buildings to your parking lot, bollards make an impact, or prevent them, everywhere.
Blockaides is the place to stop for all your bollard needs. Since 2010, we’ve aimed to raise bollard awareness and provide the community with exceptional support. We improve safety and security by supplying you with bollards, barriers and safety solutions. Our products are designed to protect the places you work, eat, travel and play.
Browse our shop for safe and secure products with the Blockaides online catalog or contact us today for friendly, helpful customer service. We can help you choose the right bollards and accessories for your project or venue.