Unfortunately, we live in a time when people are growing increasingly fearful about their safety in public spaces. As terror attacks across the globe make headlines, citizens are eagerly seeking safety and security when they are in public places.
However, terror attacks are not the only pedestrian public safety concern. According to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, 430 people are treated every day for traffic-related injuries suffered while they are pedestrians. In 2013, over 4,500 pedestrians were killed, and more than 150,000 were treated for nonfatal injuries.
Both business owners and the government can take steps to protect citizens while they are in public places. While security bollards, pedestrian-safety barriers and security personnel are all effective measures to stop terrorism, they are also powerful tools for protecting people in public spaces from a wealth of other dangers. With that in mind, we designed this guide to outline the various ways to keep pedestrians safe from terror attacks and other dangers while they are in public spaces.
What Can Be Done to Make Public Spaces Safe?
Plenty of business owners are looking for a way to keep their public spaces safer. In this endeavor, it’s crucial to consider different measures that help to keep pedestrians safe and stop terrorism.
Four Ways to Keep Pedestrians Safe
To keep pedestrians safe from accidents and attacks alike, cities and businesses have taken steps to increase security while offering peace of mind to citizens. Below are some of the most effective tools for providing security while clearly delineating places safe for pedestrians.
1. Pedestrian-Safety Barriers
Pedestrian-safety barriers come in many different forms and can serve several purposes. For factories and warehouses, they’re used to protect workers from forklifts and other heavy machinery. Pedestrian-safety barriers can be permanent or temporary.
Permanent solutions are often installed in places where heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic are in close contact. Because these solutions become part of the exterior design or architecture of a space, they are crafted to be both aesthetically pleasing and functional. Steel railings installed into concrete can keep pedestrians safe in case of an emergency. They will also mesh well with the overall design of the space. Hopefully, they will never actually need to protect pedestrians, and thus their primary function will instead be improving the appearance of spaces for pedestrians and other traffic.
Permanent pedestrian barriers are especially important for building accessibility. Not only do barriers protect those who may be entering the building in a wheelchair, but they also help prevent parking vehicles from encroaching on space needed for mobility. For many with mobility issues, tight spaces can drastically restrict access. Unfortunately, many people don’t observe painted no-parking lines designed to keep cars from parking in larger pedestrian- and wheelchair-accessibility areas.
For transforming a space temporarily for marathon races, public concerts and similar occasions, temporary pedestrian-safety barriers are essential. Because these spaces typically involve changing traffic patterns, it is important to clearly designate that an area usually open to traffic is now off limits. Such barriers need to grab the attention of drivers, which is why they are often brightly colored.
The location of these solutions will vary depending on need. However, all pedestrian-safety barriers should be installed to prevent vehicles from beginning to approach — not as a last defense against a speeding vehicle. A high-speed impact can still be dangerous, even if the pedestrian barrier has a high-impact rating. The most effective prevention measures will ensure that the high-speed impact never happens in the first place.
2. Security Bollards
Security bollards are short posts installed in concrete or cement, designed to prevent a vehicle from entering a space where it shouldn’t be. They come in several forms. Some are removable. Some are collapsible. Some are retractable, allowing them to be raised and lowered to maintain space versatility. Finally, some feature lights to make them more observable in dark conditions and provide an additional safety measure. All bollards are designed to clearly cordon off spaces, providing security for those inside while preventing traffic and security threats.
Like other barriers, the best bollard solution will vary depending on required application. For example, large events such as festivals, international sports competitions and other civic functions may require temporary solutions that still convey permanence. With media attention directed toward the event, it may be crucial that certain design aesthetics are maintained. However, once the event is over, the space will need to be converted back to its original state. Some bollards are designed for just such situations.
On the other hand, if you need a long-term solution that keeps pedestrian and vehicular traffic separated, permanent bollards are likely the best design choice from both a functional and visual perspective.
- Lighted bollards: These are especially useful in situations where nighttime pedestrian traffic is common. Unfortunately, drivers sometimes accidentally enter pedestrian-designated areas in times of low visibility. Lighted bollards are easier to see, thus encouraging safe driving. Furthermore, lighted bollards increase safety from pedestrians who may pose a risk in a crowded public space, especially if they are looking to commit a robbery or some other crime.
- Retractable bollards: For spaces that regularly transition between pedestrian and non-pedestrian use, retractable bollards are especially well-suited. If you are retracting your bollards regularly, an automatic version is the best solution. Automatic bollards are pneumatically, hydraulically or electrically controlled and retracted, meaning they can be raised or lowered with the touch of a button. If the bollard only needs to be raised or lowered occasionally, manual options are a more cost-effective solution. They’re operated by hand, so an employee or security staff member will need to raise or lower each bollard as needed. Automatic bollards do require maintenance.
- Decorative bollards: If you’re not worried about preventing impacts, decorative bollards are also an effective solution. They’re common in places where traffic control is more important than security. Because they do not need to be designed with impacts in mind, they are far more customizable. Often, architects will include decorative bollards as a means of designating outdoor space usage.
Regardless of which bollard solution is best suited for your purpose, it is important to note that bollards have been demonstrated to provide a sense of security for people in public spaces, essential to keeping attendance numbers up.
For example, Las Vegas has fallen victim to terror attacks and catastrophic accidents due to its large pedestrian population, active during both the day and night. Fear could have a significant, detrimental economic impact on the city, as its many businesses — both casinos and retail establishments — are built around the tourism industry. To address this issue, the city recently installed 700 steel bollards to increase security ahead of the holiday shopping season. Citizens and visitors have responded with an increased feeling of safety. The visual presence of security bollards also is often enough to deter lone-wolf attacks, further keeping pedestrians safe as they visit popular tourist areas.
The best location of a bollard will vary. Public facilities with heavy pedestrian traffic will usually place them around the perimeter of the pedestrian-designated area. If bollards are being used to prevent access to areas that might normally be used for vehicle traffic, they should be placed at the initial access point for traffic. The key is to prevent vehicles from even beginning to enter an off-limits area, not stopping them after they have already begun their approach.
3. Security Guards
If you want measures beyond physical installations, a human security presence can go a long way toward increasing both safety and the confidence of the public.
Security guards are an especially effective solution in situations where heightened security is needed. If a public space is expecting an unusually large crowd size, security guards make it clear that steps have been taken to ensure the safety of everyone, despite the large numbers.
This security option is valuable even in less serious circumstances. A single security guard in a public place can increase consumer confidence at a business while helping to prevent issues like theft or harassment. Even if the primary concern is a pedestrian traffic accident, security guards are trained to be observant at all times, meaning that a situation can be quickly assessed if the need arises.
Security guards should be stationed in places where traffic is heavy. They should be visible to others and have good sight lines so that they can see trouble if it arises. The key is to place guards in places where their presence prevents problems. The best outcome for a security guard is an uneventful day when merely being there proved effective.
4. Undercover and Uniformed Police Officers
In moments with heightened security needs, both undercover and uniformed police officers are useful as additions to the other security methods.
The presence of uniformed police communicates to the public that security is being taken seriously. Additionally, officers have a direct line to the security and emergency apparatus of the city, demonstrating to the public that if there is an emergency situation, the needed first responders will get there as quickly as possible.
After the Boston Marathon bombing, for example, it became clear that organizers needed more eyes in the crowd trained at spotting threats. Fortunately, as the marathon is a cherished event in the city of Boston and among distance runners around the world, the increased presence of uniformed police has simultaneously proven to be effective in maintaining support for it.
While undercover officers are less effective at preventing issues because they cannot be observed, it is possible to announce their presence without specifically pointing them out. People who may be trying to take advantage of large and distracted crowds — like those you would find at a music festival or similar event — may be deterred if they are unsure if the person next to them is an undercover officer.
Uniformed police, like security guards, should be placed around the periphery of crowds where they can both see and be seen. Undercover officers, on the other hand, are best deployed within crowds to carefully observe those around them and identify threats early.
Measures to Stop Terrorism
As we mentioned above, security is important for preventing accidents, crimes and terror. In the current international climate, the threat of terrorism is particularly present in the minds of those attending large public events. We therefore want to spend extra time explaining how to prevent terrorist attacks. This is especially important for large urban centers, as cities and their large crowds are the primary targets of terrorism.
For example, Port Phillip in Australia is a popular beachside destination just outside of Melbourne. Because of its proximity to one of Australia’s most important urban centers, it is a popular spot for vacationers and the location of several festivals. To respond to the increased threat of terror, Port Phillip recently approved the installation of demountable bollards, investing $270,000 in the project.
Similarly, the Diageo company, which owns the international beer brand Guinness, recently asked the city of Dublin to install bollards to provide additional security for Guinness’s storehouse, a popular tourist destination.
In both cases, security measures such as bollard installations were included in municipal budgets. Increasingly, cities of a wide range of sizes are investing in such security measures. While the reason for the investment may be the threat of terrorism, city planners also realize that such security measures are valuable for protecting citizens, even if terrorism never rears its head in their community.
It is imperative in this day and age that municipalities take steps to protect their citizens from terror attacks. Not only do such measures keep people safe — they also make people feel safer. A scared public is less likely to utilize public and recreational spaces. Similarly, a fearful populace can have a negative economic impact on a city, as people are less likely to patronize businesses and may avoid public events that raise revenues.
Thus, while anti-terror security measures such as bollard installations may require an initial investment in municipal budgets, in the long term, they are a value-generating venture that will make cities more inviting — generating tax revenues as a result — while also increasing the economic fortunes of a municipality’s businesses. With customers being the most valued part of any business or tourist area, it is essential to take measures to keep visitors safe.
Blockaides Can Help Keep Your Customers Safe
If you are ready to invest in bollards for added pedestrian security around your property, you next need to choose a business partner that understands your needs while offering a variety of solutions best fitted for your property. Because bollards come in many forms and security ratings, ascertaining your specific needs is an important part of the process. Not only do you want a bollard installation that will meet your immediate requirements, but you also want to ensure that your bollards will continue to meet your needs in the future.
At Blockaides, we take safety seriously. We want to protect the people who frequent your business or building location as well as your property. By putting safety first, we are perfectly suited to help you choose the bollard that fits best with your needs. If a permanent bollard with a high-impact rating makes the most sense for you, we want to make sure you don’t invest in an automatic bollard that will see little use. However, if you need versatility, a permanent bollard that doesn’t retract would be a poor fit. By focusing on your needs, we pair you with the best solution.
By partnering with Blockaides, you can also feel confident in the quality and longevity of your investment. American-made, all of our bollards and accessories are designed to meet strict standards out of the highest-quality materials. We understand that bollards are an investment — we want you to feel confident that you are investing in your future, not spending on a temporary fix.
To inquire further about the appropriate bollard solution for your particular property needs, contact us today for more information or to get a custom quote.