Street Bollards

What in the world is a Street Bollard?

Bollards are seen everywhere but seldom noticed, inconspicuously blending into the sidewalks and metropolitan traffic control system. Their purpose is to either discourage vehicles from traveling somewhere or to outright stop them from charging into pedestrian-dense areas. There are three basic types of bollards with different applications, each serving more or less functional or visual purposes. While bollards occur most commonly as cylindrical poles, they can sometimes come in different shapes or designs to disguise their true purpose.

Stationary or "pipe" bollards are the standard type and occur as a row of solid vertical posts that are designed to effectively prevent a vehicle from ram-raiding into a sensitive area. Such protected areas include bicycle or walking trails, sidewalks, walk-by storefronts, front entrances for offices and sometimes front lawns for homes and businesses alike. They might be sleeved in a plastic cover for an aesthetic touch. You can usually find these in front of department stores where pedestrian loading bays are.

Mechanical types are just like their stationary brethren but can be extended or retracted through a control interface, usually a guard tower or overseer's office where camera footage regulates security as an added measure. Mechanical bollards are, as one would imagine, designed to retract for certain vehicles to make it through while extending to prevent others that aren't authorized. These are geared to selectively seal off roads that lead into restricted-access zones rather than protect pedestrians.

Flexible bollards are the most commonly seen type in many localities and typically serve to discourage vehicles from crossing a painted median on an otherwise drivable surface. They're usually bright yellow and cause minimal damage if hit, flexing back instead of steadfastly holding their placement. As such, these are only used as an inexpensive traffic director more so than a preventative tool where lives and property may be endangered by reckless drivers.

When and Where to Use Bollards

If you own or manage property where pedestrians commonly congregate in a spot near vehicular traffic, you should ideally protect this area with a row of stationary bollards. This is not only a plus for your clients, but it may also improve your insurance standing and reduce legal liability down the road. You could also use flexible bollards to discourage vehicle intrusion, but these are only useful where drivers would otherwise think it's okay to drive. Nobody looks at a sidewalk, park lawn or commercial breezeway and thinks, "I'll drive there!"
 
Installing bollards is a fairly simple endeavor. Ensuring that there are no gas, water or electric lines under the affected area, one would either partially bury the base of the bollard or impact-drive a set of anchors into the base plate. It's also common to bolt a bollard into the ground although this will provide less protection from high-yield collisions since the bolts can be ripped out of concrete with sufficient force. Naturally, mechanical bollards involve telescoping or extending poles that are controlled with an underground mechanism, which is considerably more complicated to set up due to power requirements