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Parking Posts: Fold-down, Telescoping, Flexible, and Structural

Choosing the right parking bollard

November 20, 2019

A green bollard bends as it is nudged by a black car in a parking lot
Flexible parking posts are designed to guide cars visually without being damaged or causing damage when nudged.

“Parking post” is a general term used for bollards installed in a parking space. Parking posts placed at the far end of a parking stall are used as guides and wheel stops. Since they are visible to drivers reversing into the space, they can help with vehicle positioning into the center of the stall. Parking posts may also be placed at the entrance of the parking stall. These are generally installed to prevent unauthorized cars from accessing the space. What type of bollard you use for a parking post will depend on what job the post needs to do.

Parking posts for authorized access

Parking posts which provide variable access to a parking space must be movable. There are two main types of functional bollard that get installed at the entrance to a parking spot.

A yellow bollard is folded flat against the pavement of a parking space
This type of bollard has an internal lock; others use padlocks to keep them in an upright position.

Collapsible or fold-down parking posts

Fold-down parking posts come on a hinged mount. They lock into an upright position, either with an internal mechanism or with a padlock at the road surface. When unlocked, they can be folded down or collapsed to the ground. The authorized vehicle parks overtop them. Collapsible parking posts can be found in a variety of styles to complement site design.

An example of the internal locking fold-down bollards is the R-8430. A bike-lock-style key allows it to be raised and lowered.

Bollard Stats:

  • Height: 24-1/2 in
  • Body Diameter: 2-1/2 in
  • Base Diameter: 5 in
  • Weight: 12 lbs
  • Material: Steel
  • Finish: Powder Coat
  • Function: Fold Down

Folding mounts can be installed on a variety of other narrow-bodied bollards, including ones like the R-7904, which have bike locking arms. (Bike locking arms are additionally useful as handles for folding the bollard up and down.)

Bollard Stats:

  • Height: 36 in
  • Body Diameter: 4-1/3 in
  • Weight: 26 lbs
  • Material: Steel
  • Finish: Powder Coat
  • Function: Bike Bollard

Mount Stats:

  • Width: 9 in
  • Material: Galvanized Steel
  • Function: Fold Down

Pros:

  • Easily installation: bolt to surface
  • Can have other functionality like bike parking, or have decorative elements like annular rings

Cons:

  • Vehicle must be able to enter and exit parking stall without wheels driving over the folded post
  • If left folded down when vehicle not in the space, can be a tripping hazard
A ring of stainless steel retractable bollards are shown side-by-side in down and up positions
Retractable bollards allow vehicle and airplane access at the Museum of Flying in Santa Monica.

Retractable or telescoping parking posts

Retractable or telescoping parking posts slide into below ground receptacles to allow vehicle access to a space. They can be single- or double-locking: locking up only, like the R-8471, or in both up and down positions, like the R-8472.

Bollard Stats:

  • Height: 35-1/2 in
  • Body Diameter: 4-1/2 in
  • Base Diameter: 8-2/3 in
  • Weight: 25 lbs
  • Material: Stainless Steel
  • Finish: Powder Coat
    (stainless available)
  • Function: Retractable

Pros:

  • Offers a sleek profile
  • Is not a tripping hazard when down: retracts completely from the surface
  • When stowed, it can be driven over

Cons:

  • Requires excavation and new poured concrete for installation
  • Cannot have details like annular rings or bike arms that prevent it from retracting

Maintenance for functional bollards

All functional bollards need a little care and attention to keep them in good working order. Wiping salt, grease, and dirt from surfaces and lubricating their moving parts will keep the metals healthy for years of use.

Posts as parking stops

Posts may also be used at the end of parking stalls, as a stop. Like a wheel stop made of rubber or concrete, they notify a driver that they’re at the end of the spot. Bollards as parking stops are not a tripping hazard, because they have a small footprint.

Flexible bollards

Flexible bollards are used as a visual guide. On any type of impact, they bend out of the way, making an audible thump but neither damaging nor stopping the car. Concrete wheel stops can scrape the underside of a bumper, and impact-protective stops can do damage to the bumper itself. Flexible bollards are a good choice to avoid these dings and scrapes.

Flexi-bollards are tall and visible to a reversing driver, which means they can be used for positioning. The R-8323 is available in three colors—black, green, or red—and can be embedded, bolted down, or installed with a removable mount.

Bollard Stats:

  • Height: 34 in
  • Body Diameter: 3-7/8 in
  • Weight: 6 lbs
  • Material: Polyurethane
  • Function: Flexible

Structural or impact-protective parking stops

A parking post, made of impact-resisting steel pipe and concrete, is designed to slow or stop a car that lurches forward due to driver error, accident, or ill-intention. Storefronts facing parking lots often use them to protect against pedal-error. Parking structures often don’t place structural bollards at the end of stalls. Instead, security bollards are placed along pedestrian walkways, as a protective perimeter.

Security bollards, by themselves, are utilitarian and unfinished. To make them attractive, setting-specific choices can be made. A site may simply paint their structural bollards, with or without curved concrete caps. They can also be covered with plastic utility sleeves; plastic decorative sleeves; or have classical decorative bollards, made of iron or steel, enclose them. Security pipe can be ordered in heights of up to 84 inches, and in diameters of 4-1/2, 6-5/8, 8-5/8, or 10-3/4 inches.

Bollards for the parking lot

Bollards may just be short little posts, but they play a role in security and guidance. Parking lots can be busy areas where both pedestrians and vehicles share space. In this setting, bollards can be used to communicate intention, guide drivers, or protect pedestrian spaces, without adding more signs or symbols to the visual field. A functional bollard at the front of a spot reserves the spot, without need for security or ticketing. A collapsible bike bollard turns a spot from bike parking to vehicle parking with the twist of a key. Bollards offer clarity without clutter, which makes them a useful tool in site design.

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