Everything you wanted to know about bollards but weren’t sure who to ask
A bollard is a physical obstruction used to create a protective or architectural perimeter around a building or area. When used generally, the term "bollard" can refer to anything from cannons to boulders. In modern references, however, it is usually used to describe short posts found on streets and sidewalks.
Bollards can be constructed from many materials: wood, iron, steel, stainless steel, aluminum, cement, stone, plastic, and more. Bollards are usually 36 to 52 inches (914 to 1321 mm) high. Architects incorporate them into design plans most often as protective barriers, to give demarcation to an area, or to control vehicle and pedestrian traffic flow. Bollards are an effective means for communicating a traffic management plan and traffic flow expectations.
Where did bollards come from?
There are many legends and opinions about the history of bollards, and even some confusion with the use of bollards in marine applications.
Originally, bollards were used for mooring ships. Still used in marine applications today, most bollard designs feature a shaft with an enlarged head under which a dock line can be fastened. The marine origins of bollards can still be seen today as this feature is prominent on bollards used in traffic applications.
The use of bollards in traffic applications began in ancient Rome. Roman bollards were made from either wood or stone and used as mile markers, horse troughs, and tethering posts. The Romans later began to use them to protect buildings and people from horse-drawn vehicles.
In medieval Europe, city officials began to use captured enemy cannons as boundary posts and town markers. When the supply of cannons depleted, iron castings were produced to perform the same function. Bollards began to evolve into varied forms and bollards began to be used in different applications. Aside from being used as markers, bollards were employed to direct traffic on urban roads and pathways, to highlight architecture, and to provide preventative security to countless buildings and structures.
In the early 1800s, manufactured cast iron bollards became widely used in the Netherlands. At this time, streets did not have curbs, so bollards were an ideal solution for differentiating the street from the sidewalk—and preventing carriages from breeching pedestrian areas.
Iron bollards eventually migrated across the Atlantic to North America where they were used as boundary markers for old west towns in the late 1800s. Often, they would also be placed in front of homes and businesses with a horizontal connector that allowed for the tying of horses.
As methods for casting iron improved, so too did the creation of new forms of bollards, and the use of bollards greatly increased.
After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the use of bollards began to grow in the United States. With heightened security concerns, architects began to incorporate bollards into building designs more frequently. Bollards are an effective tool for preventing vehicles from illegally entering the areas surrounding secure buildings, and are now a requirement for most government buildings.
How to choose the right bollard design
Perhaps no aspect of a bollard will affect its suitability for an application more than its design. When used with bollards, the term "design" refers to all of the factors that contribute to a bollard’s appearance, structural capability, and composition. Bollards can be designed with either a security or aesthetic priority; many factors within the bollard’s design will play a role in this. Bollards can be designed in styles that match almost any architecture and they can be designed to serve a multitude of functions. A bollard’s design will specify the material and a finish that will provide adequate elemental endurance. Today, designers of bollards must also be environmentally conscious and consider the level of sustainability a bollard will provide.
Impact Resistance: Do all bollards have the ability to stop a car?
Impact resistance refers to a bollard’s ability to withstand impact without breaking or shattering. Bollards are generally designed to provide either high impact resistance or low impact resistance. Bollards that offer high levels of impact resistance are used in security applications, whereas bollards that provide low-impact resistance are used in aesthetic, architectural, or decorative applications. Though they do not have the ability to physically stop a car, low impact bollards do perform many useful functions; their mere presence helps deter and direct potential vehicular interference. The level of impact resistance a bollard will provide is determined by both its design and the way it is installed.
Low-Impact Resistance Bollards
Low-impact resistance bollards are used in decorative applications to create and define perimeters that are primarily visual. Low-impact bollards are commonly used to highlight architecture or to enhance landscaping projects. Because impact resistance is not a priority in decorative applications, low-impact bollards can be installed in a wide range of methods, quickly and easily. Common low-impact installation methods include the use of concrete anchors, anchor castings, and bolting with a flanged mount.
Functioning either on their own or with a decorative cover, high-impact resistance bollards provide anti-ram protection. Bollards that offer high-impact resistance are used in safety and security applications to create and define perimeters that halt the advance of errant vehicles. The installation of attack-resistant bollards will directly affect the level of impact resistance provided. Installing high-impact bollards requires the boring of a large hole and the application of cement. High-impact resistant, or crash bollards are commonly found in parking areas, at the entranceways of retail outlets, and surrounding government buildings. High-impact bollards are used whenever pedestrian safety and security are the top priority.
In the US, the department of state has created a standard by which to measure the level of impact resistance that a bollard will provide: the K rating. It measures a bollard’s ability to stop a truck and prevent penetration of the payload more than 3 feet (0.92 meters) past the bollard. The level of impact resistance a bollard will provide is determined by both its design and how it is installed. There are many videos accessible that demonstrate the level of impact resistance provided by K-rated bollards.
Department of State Crash Test Certification
Crash Test Certification standards have been developed by the U.S. Department of State for its embassies and other buildings deemed to be at high risk of terrorist attacks.
DOS standards specify that the rated bollard would stop vehicles completely, not allowing the bed to travel more than 3 feet after impact, and have enough integrity to deter a second wave of attack. Prior to Department of State (DOS) certification, vehicle barriers must be tested by an independent crash test facility to meet DOS standards.
These standards are expressed in K-ratings. K-4, K-8 and K-12 each refer to the ability to stop a heavy truck weighing up to 15,000 pounds (6,804 kilograms) within 3 feet (0.92 meters) approaching at 30, 40, or 50 mph (48, 64, or 80.5 km/h), rating 4, 8, and 12 respectively.
Resistance depends not only on the size and strength of the bollard itself, but also on the way it is anchored and the substratum it's anchored into, with deep anchoring into cement generally being the most secure.
What styles are available for bollards?
Bollards are available in a wide range of styles to suit the architectural requirements of almost any site. The most common form of bollard is a concrete-filled steel pipe. Some suppliers have also created unique mounting systems that allow bollards to act as decorative covers, that can be installed stand-alone, or cover security bollards. From historic to contemporary, from unadorned and industrial to classic and ornate, bollards can be made to complement most architectural styles. In many instances, a bollard’s style will allow it not only to work within the architectural style, but also to enhance the site’s design value.
The following is list non-exhaustive list of bollard styles:
Historic Bollards (Traditional, Classic)
Traditionally-styled bollards are composed of iron or steel in styles that coincide with various historic periods. Historic bollards usually have more elaborate shapes and surface details than their modern counterparts. They generally feature three parts: a base, a shaft, and a cap or crown. The shafts of classical bollards are often fluted. To maintain a conservative appearance, they are generally finished with paint or powder-coating in a dark color (most often black). Bands, scrolls, and other forms of elaborate ornamentation are also common on historic bollards. As bollards are usually the first piece of architecture one encounters when entering a property, an appropriate style encourages the proper reverence due to historic buildings.
The term modern refers to a wide range of bollards and modern-styled bollards can be created from a wide range of materials. Like the historic models, they may be composed steel and iron but they are also frequently created from stainless steel, aluminum, plastic and even wood or wood composite. Modern-styled bollards generally feature a more simplistic and functional style that coincides with most architecture. With function taking precedence over style, un-ornate modern bollards are easy to maintain and their simplistic style makes them versatile in application. Modern-styled bollards are commonly found at transit centers, retail outlets and in parking areas.
When discussing style, the term "nautical" refers to bollards that are designed in a maritime fashion, not bollards that are used in ship mooring applications. Nautical-style bollards, however, are generally composed of steel or iron in old-world designs to resemble mooring devices. They are typically installed in communities or neighborhoods near bodies of water where they help to complement and promote the area’s seaside or lakeside connection. Nautically-styled bollards would most often be installed in decorative applications, though, some manufacturers produce models that can be installed with impact-resistant hardware. In these applications, the bollards help tie the perimeter security of a building into the surrounding maritime-themed architecture. Because nautical bollards are designed in time-honored styles, they are generally finished or coated in darker styles to coincide with traditional architecture. Nautical bollards make a pronounced statement on streetscapes, ideal for defining perimeters that separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
Artistic bollards are often standard bollards that community members modify with paint or other covers to become art.
Function: What do bollards do and why are they used?
The visual presence of non-rated bollards helps to guide traffic direction.
The term function describes the overall architectural or security plan into which the bollard fits. Function differs from application in that it does not address specific designs or models of bollards nor does it address the installation method. Common security, architectural, and traffic management plans in which bollards play a role include traffic control, ship mooring, pedestrian safety, perimeter security, architectural highlighting, parking facilitation, and asset protection. Bollards are most commonly used to perform the following functions:
Bollards are often used to manage both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. They are an efficient means of communicating the expected route that people, bicycles, cars, and trucks must take. When used as traffic guides, bollards are also often used for lane delineation, and to prevent vehicles from being parked in restricted areas.
Traffic direction is primarily achieved through the visual presence of the bollard, although in some applications they may be installed to provide a higher level of impact resistance. Visual guidance relies on the cooperation of drivers and pedestrians, and does not require physical impact resistance. For example, a line of bollards linked by a chain presents a visual cue not to cross the boundary, though it would be easy for a pedestrian to go over or under the chain if they chose. In the same manner, a bollard may not be able to prevent vehicle incursion—but it does serve as a signal not to enter.
When traffic bollards are installed to provide impact resistance, they are generally constructed from cement-filled steel pipes. They are often placed in parking lots to protect pedestrian walkways and ticket machines. Vehicles regularly misjudge turns and cut close to sidewalks. Anti-ram bollards stand guard to absorb any impact—accidental or otherwise.
Several types of bollards that are commonly used in traffic guidance applications include flexible bollards, removable bollards, telescopic bollards, break-away bollards, steel pipe bollards, and traditional iron bollards.
Perimeter Security (Terrorism Prevention)
The technology and weaponry used by criminals is more widely available today than it has ever been. Vehicle ram attacks and car bombs are, sadly, fairly common. As such, perimeter security concerns are high to protect facilities and people from vehicular ramming, and also from acts of terror in the form of cars or trucks loaded with explosives.
Following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the September 11, 2001 attacks, there was a sharp rise in the installation of bollards for security purposes. Much of modern security design focuses on the threat of attacks. The most significant factor in protecting against explosions is the distance between the detonation and the target.
The more distance that can be placed between the detonation and the protected structure, referred to as “standoff distance,” the greater the threat resistance, or, conversely, the less blast resistance needs to be built into the structure.
Therefore, creation of a secure perimeter is the first step in the overall design of blast resistance. Standoff distance using bollards is valuable architecturally because it allows a building to be protected without having to look like a bunker. It also has economic benefits; it is usually cheaper to create standoff than to bomb-proof the structure itself.
Security bollards are designed specifically to resist deliberate attacks by vehicles, used when the likelihood of a ram-raid burglary or attack by a vehicle loaded with explosives is a concern. Some steel bollards are also rated according to U.S. Department of State impact resistance guidelines, discussed in the next section.
The U.S. General Services Administration suggests that top security ratings are needed when the likelihood of attack is high. They often add significant cost and decrease the visual appeal of a project, however.
Design standards, of course, also increasingly suggest situating building entrances so that a vehicle can't attack at high speed, using turns and curves (concentric circles of protection) rather than long straight lines of entry.
Asset protection bollards are devices that are used in indoor applications to protect retail property and personnel. They are generally constructed form stainless steel or composite plastic. Common uses for asset protection bollards include providing protection for refrigeration units, warehouse racks, ATMs, and retail shelving. They are effective at warning personnel and customers of potential danger. Asset protection bollards are typically only installed with anchor bolts and therefore do not provide a high level of impact resistance. They are designed to protect merchandise from carts, dollies, and hand-powered cleaning equipment.
Composition: What are bollards made from?
A bollard’s composition will play a huge role in both its aesthetic value and in its endurance. Certain materials will fare better than others in different environments. Bollards can be created from numerous materials and each composition offers different advantages. Stone or cement generally provide the greatest durability, with steel and stainless following closely behind. Iron provides slightly less endurance but allows for greater ornamentation. Plastic is ideal for providing protection from the elements in most environments. Aluminum provides the highest level of corrosion resistance and its light weight makes it ideal for applications where the bollard may need to be transported. A bollard composed from the proper material for any given site will perform to its expected longevity, enhance the site’s architectural value, and reduce the level of maintenance required. Typically, bollards are constructed from one of the following materials:
Cast iron is the most common material from which traditionally-styled bollards are constructed. Its durable and aesthetic features make it a top choice for bollard applications. Cast iron bollards are heavy enough to be used in standalone applications, or they can be used as bollard covers for security posts. Standard cast iron is not as malleable as ductile iron and is more susceptible to cracking, but provides cost advantages.
Ductile Iron (Spheroidal Iron)
Ductile or spheroidal iron is commonly used to create traditionally-styled bollards. Ductile iron is imbued with graphite in spherical form and provides superior performance because it is significantly more flexible and elastic than other forms of cast iron, which can be brittle. The malleability of ductile iron allows for greater freedom in design, allowing for more detailed ornamentation. Ductile cast iron is also less likely to shatter on impact, thereby preventing pieces of bollards and post covers from becoming dangerous projectiles or shrapnel. This makes it a preferred choice for security bollard covers.
Steel is somewhat lighter than iron. Steel bollards may be solid or filled with concrete. When solid, steel bollards are generally used in decorative applications. Steel pipe bollards are set into a concrete substrate and filled with concrete to provide an increased level of impact resistance. Steel bollards designed for concrete fill may arrive primed, or, for more corrosion resistance, galvanized or powder coated.
Steel can be used to create a wide variety of bollards and bollard covers. When compared against other bollard materials, steel is highly durable and is suited for applications where a maintaining structural integrity is a top priority. Steel is less prone to denting, but may be more susceptible to corrosion than other materials.
Steel is an alloy, meaning that it is formed from several different elements. Iron, manganese, silicon, and carbon are all elements included in steel, with iron making up the largest proportion. Different ratios of all of these elements will create steel with different levels of hardness, tensile strength, and ductility.
Stainless steel is used to create bollards with a sleek, functional, and contemporary look. Stainless steel bollards offer an extremely high level of weather resistance, and are often used in applications where moisture is a concern. Stainless steel bollards can be prone to oxidization in areas near salt water and areas where de-icing chemicals are frequently used. Suppliers offer stainless steel bollards in non-coated and coated models. There are two grades of stainless steel that are most commonly used to create bollards:
304 Stainless Steel
In industry, 304 grade is the most commonly-used type of stainless steel. It can be used to meet the requirements of applications, ranging from architectural to industrial. For the level of corrosion resistance it provides, 304 stainless steel is a suitable option for many applications, though it may tarnish over time. 304 stainless steel bollards are generally used in typical, dry, inland bollard applications.
316 Stainless Steel
316 stainless steel provides a higher level of oxidization resistance than 304 stainless steel. It is also more resistant to saltwater corrosion, so well suited for use in coastal applications. The durability of 316 stainless steel means that it is more expensive than other grades. It is important to note, however, that though it provides a higher level of oxidization resistance, it may still be susceptible to rust in extreme environments.
Aluminum is a lightweight material, preferred for removable applications. If there is an increased risk of the bollard becoming scratched or damaged, aluminum bollards are good as they oxidize to shades that blend better than the red rust that develops on iron or standard steel bollards. Because aluminum does not provide a high level of impact resistance (it is susceptible to dents), aluminum bollards are primarily used in decorative applications where impact resistance is not important. Aluminum can be easily cast and machine-finished to create a wide variety of bollard styles.
A low-density, metal alloy form of aluminum is used to create bollards. The metal is very malleable, allowing for a high level of freedom in design. Aluminum will provide differing levels of durability and hardness, depending on the heat treatment used in its production.
Plastic is used to create economical bollards and covers. Plastic provides a high level of protection from the elements and requires little ongoing maintenance. Bollards and bollard covers can be created from a wide range of plastics, but the most common form is polyethylene.
Polyethylene is used to create bollards and covers that provide the best UV-resistance to maintain color and withstand cracking. Bollards created with polyethylene offer exceptionally long service lives; post covers created from polyethylene will extend the service lives of bumper posts. It requires little in terms of maintenance, and is often used to create bollards that are used in applications where function takes priority over aesthetics. Polyethylene bollards are commonly seen in parking lots and other areas with a mix of both pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
Suppliers offer polyethylene bollards in both low (LDPE) and high (HDPE) formulations. LDPE is the softer of the two and its softness allows for a more ornate design. HDPE, on the other hand, is harder and provides a longer service life. Both formulations are generally created from recycled material.
Composite polyurethane materials are economical and durable, and are used for flexible or bendable bollards. Polyurethane is a polymer composite with reinforcing nanoparticles. The mixture of polymers provides UV resistance and durability; it is highly resistant to the elements. It is generally used to create bollards for applications in which function and cost take priority over architectural style—often traffic applications. Polyurethane bollards come in a number of colors that are highly visible and increase safety on streetscapes.
Polyurethane combines the best properties of both plastic and rubber and different variations of polyurethane can be created through a wide range of formulas. A polyurethane bollard’s chemical formula will affect its elasticity, hardness, and service life. Much like iron bollards, they are cast into shape, but they are also shatterproof. Polyurethane provides an exceptionally high level of durability and will not fade.
Standard concrete is brittle and is not used on its own to create tall bollard posts. It is generally used to fill steel pipes to create high security or anti-ram bollards. Decorative metal or plastic covers are often used to cover the security bollards and improve aesthetics. Wider concrete bollards can be used to combine impact protection with concrete style. In rare circumstances, concrete can also be used to create moveable or high security bollards.
Mounting Systems: How are bollards installed?
Bollards can be installed with a variety of mounting systems. Each mounting system is designed to provide a specific level of impact resistance, and will determine the level of safety that a bollard will provide. Changing mountings will often change the scope or capability of the entire bollard.
Bollard mounting systems can generally be grouped in two categories: fixed and removable. Fixed mounting systems permanently set the bollard in place and can be either secure or decorative. The secure version will offer a high level of impact resistance; the decorative version will simply hold the bollard in place. Bollards installed with removable options are generally designed to operate as visual deterrents and will offer little impact resistance.
Finishes: What is used to protect a bollard from the elements or brighten its appearance?
A finish is applied to a bollard to add aesthetic value, provide protection from the elements, and increase visibility. Finishes are available in many colors that allow a bollard to add visibility or enhance a streetscape’s architecture. A properly chosen finish will resist corrosion, reducing maintenance and the associated costs.
Bollard finishes depend on the application. Paint is the cheapest and most common finish. Powder coating is more expensive, but more durable. Plastic covers can also be used in lieu of a finish. A bollard’s finish affects the aesthetic of the bollard.
Powder coat finishes are heat-fused to metal. Standard and custom colors are available. Powder coating provides superior protection for scratches and nicks by pedestrians and vehicles as well as petrochemical residues and splashes of diluted road de-icing salts. Factory-applied powder coating (available on iron, aluminum, steel, and stainless steel bollards) is an especially durable form of colored finish. The application process builds up a coating with very consistent coverage. During coating, any bare metal attracts the powder, eliminating even pinhole-sized breaks in coverage. The baking process that completes the finish gives it additional toughness and abuse-resistance. In typical North American climates, powder-coated bollards will require little in terms of maintenance and deliver an exceptionally long service life.
Sustainability: Are bollards environmentally-friendly?
Some bollards, such as solar lighting bollards, contribute to LEED accreditation. Bollards are also noted for the role they play in improving public spaces and increasing livability. They are low-maintenance and do not require environmentally-harmful cleaning agents. Today, bollards are commonly designed with sustainability in mind. Environmentally-conscious suppliers offer bollards that are produced from recycled materials, such as iron, steel, aluminum, concrete, plastic, or polymer composite. When the bollards reach the end of their service life, these materials can be collected and recycled again.
As well as being composed of sustainable material, bollards can also help to create more livable environments. They play a key role in optimizing the use-potential of a site and limiting harm to property and users, while letting a space feel welcoming.
In some situations, however, safety, security and sustainability must be balanced. The use of bollards, reinforced planters, and site furnishings to withstand assaults by moving vehicles can result in undesirable increased development of open space, habitat disturbance, and possibly erosion.
Application: Why are some bollards better than others for use at specific sites?
The term "application" emphasizes the features of a bollard that will benefit its use in any specific project. Bollards are predominately used in four categories of application: architecture, traffic control, security and landscaping. A bollard intended for use in an architectural or decorative application, for example, is designed with an emphasis placed on ornamentation. A bollard intended for use in a traffic application, may have an accentuated focus placed on safety and durability. Many bollards are created for use in specific applications and feature elements that benefit and strengthen those applications. Elements of a bollard’s design, composition and mounting will all affect a bollards success in any given application.
Highlighting the architecture that surrounds them and the streetscapes on which they sit, decorative bollards are manufactured to harmonize with both traditional and contemporary architectural styles. Modern styles are functional and lean towards visual simplicity, whereas styles made to match various historic periods usually have more elaborate shapes and surface details.
In decorative or architectural applications, security posts and anti-ram technology are not employed in the installation of the bollard. The purpose of decorative bollards is aesthetic enhancement and to provide a visual guide to pedestrians and vehicles, so the bollard does not provide a high level of impact-resistance. In these applications, decorative bollards are installed as “stand-alone” posts. Although they may be embedded, decorative bollards are commonly surface-mounted or applied with concrete anchors and anchor castings.
Bollards are often used to communicate expected traffic routes. When employed in traffic applications, bollards are devices used for communicating expected traffic routes and traffic flow expectations. Traffic bollards are used in applications that are performed on roadways, parking areas, sidewalks, trails, and more. In traffic applications, the focus of the bollard is on safety and the prevention of injury or damage to property. Unlike bollards used for other applications, traffic bollards are generally designed to provide optimal levels of visibility. They can also be an ideal tool for creating delineation between different types of traffic if necessary. Traffic bollards can be mounted in numerous ways, providing either high or low impact resistance and several models allow for changing access. Other options, such as the flexible and break-away mountings found on some models, enhance a traffic bollard’s level of safety. Many different types of bollards are used in traffic-guidance applications:
Removable bollards can be temporarily removed to allow vehicular access to normally-restricted areas. They have a base that is permanently installed in the ground that allows the bollard post to be inserted and locked in place. The bollard can be lifted from the base and reinserted when needed. Removable bollards deter the general public from entering restricted areas, but can also be removed to allow temporary access to maintenance, delivery, or emergency vehicles. The locking mechanisms can be quickly opened by authorized personnel, but the bollard does deter and discourage vehicles from trying to get through uninvited. Removable bollards are an ideal solution for changing access applications and are generally more cost sensitive than retractable bollards. They are commonly installed at parks, in courtyards, alleyways, and other large venues like stadiums. Removable bollards are available in a wide variety of materials, ranging from steel to composite plastic.
Retractable, Rising, and Telescopic Bollards
Retractable bollards are also often referred to as collapsible or telescopic bollards.
A retractable bollard is a short post that can be lowered either manually or automatically into the ground to allow temporary access to a normally restricted area. Retractable bollards are especially useful in mixed-use public spaces as they can facilitate pedestrian use and emergency and or service vehicle use. This flexible use creates opportunities to increase livability and limit traffic use in pedestrian areas.
Manually retractable bollards are the most common type. They are appropriate for both new and reconstruction projects, since they do not require retrofitting into existing landscapes, or any electrical hookups or hydraulic systems. Retractable bollard receivers are installed in concrete below grade. A manually retractable bollard is lowered with a key mechanism. When retracted, the bollards are flush with the pavement to prevent becoming trip hazards. Many of these bollards have integrated locking systems, preventing unauthorized removal or adjustment of the bollards above or below ground. Once unlocked, the bollard posts are easily lifted from within the in-ground receiver, and re-locked into place in their upright positions.
Retractable bollards are often used in applications where seasonal access may be temporarily restricted. Parks often use them to close off areas in winter and to open them in the spring. Sporting venues will use them to allow vehicle access in the off season and then restrict it during the busier season.
Movable bollards are heavy objects or posts, frequently constructed from steel, stone, or concrete. They rely on their weight rather than structural anchoring to stay in place. They are designed to be moved rarely, and then only with heavy machinery such as a forklift. Some models are also equipped with wheels to facilitate movement. Movable bollards do not provide a high level of impact resistance and are therefore only intended to act as visual guides or cues.
Breakaway bollards are bollards that are designed to break from their mounting when struck by an emergency vehicle. The most basic form is a wooden post that features a cut that runs partially through its diameter. More elaborate metal versions are also available that feature a special pin that causes them to fold to ground level when impacted by a vehicle. Designers and safety planners sometimes require breakaway bollards to be used at any entrance that may require emergency access as they do not hinder the response time of emergency crews.
Once impacted, metal breakaway bollards usually require a new shear pin to be restored, so owners need to have or obtain extra pins. With wooden breakaway bollard systems, an entire new wood post is required after the bollard is struck. Breakaway bollards require personnel who can restore the bollard as soon as possible after an emergency.
A bell bollard is small bollard, generally only between 1 to 2 feet high, with a round shape that is designed to deflect vehicles' tires. They are often used on corners to prevent trucks from navigating corners too narrowly. When a wheel mounts the lower part of the bell bollard, it is deflected by the increasing slope. Such bollards are effective against heavy goods vehicles that can damage or destroy other types of street furniture.
Bollards made to look like children have been used in an attempt to curb speeding near a school. In other cities, residents and artists have covered bollards in paint, knitting, and other materials.
Security bollards were traditionally used for preventing the accidental ramming of buildings and pedestrian areas. Today, designers also must consider terrorist attacks and other crime. In security applications, the primary objective of a bollard is keeping buildings and pedestrians safe. When used in security applications, bollards delay, prevent, and protect against illegal vehicle infringement. Because of this, security applications often involve anti-ram technology and the use of security posts. The simplest security bollard is constructed from carbon steel structural pipe that is filled with concrete. Security Bollards are often certified by the Department of State with a K-rating. Security bollards fall into the following classifications:
Steel pipe bollards, also called security bollards or bumper posts, are used to provide anti-ram resistance in security applications. The simplest security bollard is a piece carbon steel structural pipe. Pipes are often filled with concrete to increase stiffness, although unfilled pipe with plate stiffeners inside may produce better resistance in the same diameter pipe. Without any form of internal stiffening, the pipe’s wall thickness needs to be significantly greater. For fixed-type security, steel pipe bollards may be functionally sufficient, if properly mounted. Steel pipe bollards generally require weather resistant protection and, for most applications, aesthetic enhancements. Elemental protection and ornamentation are usually achieved with paint, or plastic or metal post covers. Undecorated pipe-style bollards are also specially manufactured for industrial sites.
Ram-raiding is a variation on burglary in which a van, SUV, car, or other heavy vehicle is driven through the windows or doors of a closed shop, usually a department store or jeweller’s shop, to give perpetrators the ability to loot.
Many bollards can be used to prevent vehicle incursion for the purpose of ram-raiding . They provide an attractive and affordable way to deter vehicles from being rammed into buildings by would-be thieves. Security bollards are the simplest, most secure, and least expensive way to protect structures from security vehicle penetration threats like break-ins.
Anti-ram bollards are becoming a commonly-seen architectural feature in the design of new buildings, and additions to existing structures. They are installed close to entranceways so decorative bollard covers are often used to enhance their architectural style and to avoid creating the visual sense of a fortified bunker that a plain steel or cement barrier may create.
Anti-ram resistance is commonly measured using a standard developed by the Department of State, called the K-rating. K-4, K-8, and K-12 each refer to the ability to stop a truck of a specific weight and speed and prevent penetration of the payload more than 3ft (1m) past the anti-ram barrier. Resistance depends not only on the size and strength of the bollard itself, but also on the way it is anchored and the substrate into which it is anchored.
In landscaping applications, bollards are used to highlight natural features and rural scenery. Landscaping bollards are commonly found in parks and other green areas, surrounding pathways, trails, and gardens. Bollard landscaping applications are similar to architectural applications in that the function of bollard is ornamental and aesthetic. Because a high level of impact resistance is not required, landscaping bollards generally stand alone. Often anchored by their own weight, they may also be installed with small patches of fresh concrete and concrete anchors or castings. Although the objective of landscaping bollards is decorative, they also serve practical function in that they visually deter entrance to green spaces, gardens, and other areas that must be protected.
In recent years, innovative technology has been applied to bollards to allow them to perform in applications outside their traditional scope. Research and development efforts have focused on the installation of software that will increase convenience and improve the level of security and safety. Recent technical upgrades have allowed bollards to serve new functions that are as futuristic as moving into position via laptop computers and verifying personnel in security applications. Some recent, innovative bollard uses include the following:
Bollard Installation: How are bollards put in place?
Many groups take part in a bollard installation. An installation begins in the design room, where architects and project planners will determine not only the style and composition of the bollard required, but also the layout of the project. Although there are standard practices and guidelines for determining bollard placement and spacing, many times a project will call for unique solutions. The quality of the bollard provided by a supplier will play a significant role in the success of an installation. Once the bollard is received on site, an installer plays the critical and final role. A bollard’s installation greatly affects the overall aesthetics of the project and the longevity of the bollard, so a proficient installation is essential.
Project Design: How do you plan a bollard project?
A bollard installation project begins in the design phase with an architect, landscape architect or project planner. These groups will generally have access to engineers or resources that will help them determine the level of impact resistance required for any project. In this phase, the guidelines for the bollard’s composition, design, finish, and arrangement will also be decided. The following groups are typically involved in the design phase of bollard projects:
Engineering and Construction Firms
Bollard Placement: How far apart should bollards be placed to be the most effective?
No universal guidelines have been established to govern the placement of bollards on streetscapes and other areas. Certain municipal governments have created standards for their jurisdictions, though bollard placement usually differs on a project to project basis. Certain suppliers and architectural firms have also created recommendations on the optimal spacing and placement of bollards to regulate vehicular access and maintain pedestrian circulation. Adhering to these recommendations can help to increase the effectiveness of bollards and prevent vehicles from breeching pedestrian areas.
Bollard Installers: Who secures bollards at a site?
Installers’ work is critical in ensuring the proper lifespan and performance of the bollard. Meticulous attention to detail and accurate placement are both necessary components of a successful installation.
Typical Bollard Installation Sites: Where are bollards found?
Bollards are used virtually everywhere and can be viewed in many everyday settings:
Bollards on streets
Bollards are commonly used on streets in applications where clear delineation between different types of traffic is necessary. For example, bicycle lanes may be separated from car lanes with flexible bollards; streetcar or bus stops might be designated with bollards to keep cars from crossing over to where vehicles are stopped; bollards can mark an entrance or off-ramp to a highway, separating slower-moving traffic from vehicles moving at higher speeds; bollards are used to align lanes as they approach highway toll booths to keep vehicles in their chosen lanes.
Often these roadway bollards are installed with a flexible mounting and feature reflective striping. They are meant to direct and keep appropriate vehicles in proper lanes, however it is likely that they will experience accidental contact or bumping from cars. Flexible materials minimize damage to vehicles, while keeping traffic in place.
Bollards on sidewalks
Heavier bollards can be used to guard pathways or crosswalks where pedestrians may be standing close to a roadway waiting to cross. This is especially necessary when a sidewalk or pedestrian walkway empties into a vehicular street. Bollards both warn pedestrians that they are approaching a roadway while also alerting drivers that they are approaching an area frequented by people. Often, these are safety yellow, or another brightly colored bollard that is strong and heavy, to prevent pedestrians from being accidentally struck by vehicles that pass too closely. On streetscapes that feature historic architecture, decorative iron bollards, with or without chain, are also often used to separate vehicular and pedestrian traffic on sidewalks. These decorative iron bollards may or may not be installed to provide impact resistance.
Bollards on sidewalks benefit pedestrians within school zones, near parks, surrounding senior citizen residential facilities, around museums, and at other public places where pedestrians frequently cross roads.
Bollards in parking lots
Bollards have a wide scope of uses in parking lots and garages for providing safety to cars and pedestrians.
Parking garages use heavy bollards at entry/exit ways to protect parking ticket and parking booth operators from ramming. Flexible bollards are often used to separate incoming and outgoing parking garage traffic—particularly on steep, curved ramps with limited visibility crossing a lane can result in a head-on collision. Bollards are also often used to designate parking spots.
Bollards are often used to guard the perimeter of parking lots, preventing unauthorized vehicle entry and exit. Chains may be used to connect bollards to provide the appearance of continuous perimeter security.
Bollards are also used to mark bus stops, taxi queues, and other temporary vehicle parking areas for passenger pick-up and drop-off. These bollards can be removable, flexible, or heavy, depending on the permanency of the parking area. Hotels, apartment buildings, and office towers with valet parking can use bollards to keep pedestrians safe from approaching cars and protect the property.
In most areas, building owners are responsible for the repair of sidewalks abutting their property. As such, they often request bollards to be installed in front of their building to prevent vehicles from parking on their sidewalks. This protects pedestrians and guards against sidewalk damage caused by the weight of cars or trucks.
Bollards on university campuses
There are thousands of colleges and universities in the United States, and many function similarly to small towns, making safety and security a top concern. The National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF), managed by the National Institute of Building Sciences has even made a major investment to promote safe schools and four-year colleges and universities. Many planners and architects have used bollards in traffic management plans and initiatives on universities to increase pedestrian safety. These efforts have seen bollards installed on college and university campuses on roadways, in parking areas, at sports stadiums, and in front of institutions and businesses.
For example, here is how the University of Connecticut, on page 12 of its Division 2 Master Plan (PDF) describes its use of bollards:
"Bollards should be used in areas where a clear delineation between vehicular traffic and pedestrians is desired, ... such as at the mouth of major pedestrian walkways where they empty onto streets. Bollards restrict vehicular movements while providing for unimpeded pedestrian circulation./
Two types of bollards–traditional and contemporary–are needed
They must be attached solidly to the ground, yet removable
All bollards must reinforce master plan recommendations for vehicular access and pedestrian circulation
All bollards should be constructed with mountings to allow removal
Bollards should be spaced eight feet apart"
Bollard Maintenance: How are bollards cleaned or repaired?
For the most part, bollards are durable site furnishings that require little maintenance. To ensure the proper life of a bollard, regular inspections and cleaning should generally be performed. How often inspections and cleanings are executed should be determined by the composition and finish of the bollard as well as the environment in which the bollard is placed. Bollard care and maintenance can involve several steps and/or processes:
Bollard Graffiti Removal
Recoating, Repainting, and/or Refinishing of Bollards
Replacement of Bollards
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