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Guidelines for Choosing the Best Safety Bollard Type for Your Facility

Posted by KenParrott | 09 September 2019

Few things are as fundamental to open space design as the safety bollard.  This product serves multiple purposes: ornamentation, access control, traffic direction, and, in some cases, as an anti-terrorist measure.  This being the case, choosing the right bollard for a specific scenario or location is an essential skill for public planners.  With that in mind, here are the most important factors to consider in safety bollard selection.



·       Security – this is an increasingly important priority in today’s world.  In general, a safety bollard for use in sensitive areas will be made of steel, usually in a hollowed-out, tubular shape with a concrete core.  These products are joined directly to the underlying pavement with a steel rod running deep into the ground for added resilience.

·       Traffic direction – this is perhaps the most common use for a safety bollard.  These units are designed with the expectation that motorists will steer clear of them.  Of course, this is not always the case, which is why flexible bollards are the norm for most construction sites.  Most commonly bright orange in color, these bollards are usually light and flexible.  In some locations, such as areas where traffic control is only needed at designated times of the day, retractable bollards are used.  These products are designed to lower themselves into the surrounding pavement when they are not needed.

·       Aesthetics - this factor is often not given the consideration it deserves during safety bollard selection.  This is unfortunate, as bollards can be just as valuable for their decorative properties as their utilitarian functions.  In many cities, bollards serve as containers for flower gardens, works of art, and guideposts.



·       Concrete – this material choice offers low-cost and substantial resistance to vandalism.  On the other hand, some people object to its rough texture, (usually) gray coloring, and “cold” appearance.  Modern concrete bollards address these concerns by incorporating colors and attractive patterns.  While concrete is a durable and effective option in most places, concrete can be a poor choice in coastline areas where the air may contain high concentrations of sea salt because salt is known to have corrosive effect on cement.

·       Cast-iron – with its imposing appearance, this can be an excellent choice for permanent bollards.  However, cast-iron can quickly rust when exposed to precipitation.  These corrosive effects can be mitigated by adding a protective coating to the exterior of the safety bollard.

·       Stainless steel – bollards made of this material are durable and attractive.  The only drawback with using stainless steel is the cost, which can be quite high when compared to other options.

·       Flexible materials – designed to “bend rather than break,” flexible materials such as plastic or rubber are a perfect choice for bollards used to channelize traffic.  Modern products can withstand substantial abuse, even to the point of being struck by automobiles without suffering lasting damage.


Uses for the Safety Bollard

·       Academic settings – schools, colleges, and universities traditionally have problems with traffic congestion.  These problems can be especially acute during athletic games, concerts, lecture series, and other special events.  Safety bollards are a staple tool of campus officials in maintaining order and safety.  They also play a valuable role in ensuring that students are able to cross the street safely when entering and leaving public school buildings.

·       Government facilities – courthouses, military bases, fire stations, police stations, post offices, and state capitols are favorite targets of vandals and terrorists.  In these locations, the safety bollard does important duty 24/7.

·       Bike lanes – these are an increasingly common sight across the country.  Safety bollards used to mark these areas are painted with highly visible colors, such as bright orange, to alert motorists to the presence of cyclists.



Few products receive as little fanfare as the humble safety bollard.  Available in a wide choice of sizes, shapes, materials, and finishes, choosing the right bollards for your site is a vital part of overall preparation.  Keeping the factors discussed in this article in mind will help planners to make the best choices for their facilities.

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