A guide to the different types of bollards
Bollards play a major part in our daily lives. Whether you're driving past a construction site, going for a jog, running errands in town or adding some extra security to your home’s driveway, you will definitely have come across bollards in some form or another!
But are different bollards better for different circumstances and applications? In this guide, we’ll be looking at the various different types of bollards and their uses so you can know which ones are going to be the most effective at protecting your property.
What is a bollard?
But first, let’s take it back to basics. Bollards are short posts made from durable, robust materials such as steel, concrete, iron and timber that are installed either on top of or recessed into the ground. Their purpose is to provide additional protection in areas where there is a greater risk of theft, trespassing or collisions between pedestrians and vehicles.
Some bollards are designed to blend in with their surroundings and complement the existing architectural features of a space, whilst others are built to be as visible as possible through the addition of lights, reflective strips or bold colours. Whatever their design, bollards all have one thing in common - they provide excellent protection and security wherever they are installed.
What are bollards made from?
Depending on their function and placement, the material or combination of materials from which bollards are formed will vary. This is because different materials have inherent properties that make them better suited to particular applications.
Iron and reinforced concrete, for example, are widely used for anti-ram bollards thanks to their strength and impact resistance. On the flip side, situations like queue management at events or temporary lane closure on roads will require more lightweight bollards, and these are typically made from plastic.
Types of bollards and their uses
As we mentioned above, different types of bollards have different uses, with some being far more effective than others at providing the security and protection required. Let’s take a closer look at these different types, their features and typical applications.
Retractable and removable bollards
Retractable bollards, sometimes referred to as removable bollards, are used in any instances where temporary security or protection is required. Telescopic or fold down bollards can be raised and lowered to allow vehicles to pass through into and then leave a specific area with ease.
You tend to find this type of bollard on residential driveways to protect vehicles and private properties against theft or in front of parking spaces in shared garages. They can be operated with a lift-assist system to reduce the overall lifting weight of the bollard, something that’s especially useful for those made from materials such as steel or stainless steel, which can be quite heavy.
Permanent or fixed bollards are the opposite of retractable bollards. This type of bollard is rooted firmly in place, being bolted down or set into concrete foundations. They are ideal for providing the highest levels of security and protection, especially in pedestrianised zones when there won’t be any need for vehicles to pass through.
You often find permanent bollards around the perimeters of retail car parks to demarcate walkways from parking bays and protect store fronts from ram raids.
Because they’re intended to provide the maximum protection, fixed bollards tend to be made from ultra-durable materials such as steel, concrete or iron.
Bicycle parking bollards
Bicycle parking bollards feature hitching supports so that cyclists are able to lock their bikes easily and securely. Their post-and-arm design allows two bikes to be parked on a single bollard.
Bike bollards tend to be installed in series to create designated bicycle parking zones in city centres, business parks, universities and other locations where cycling is encouraged. They are also, on occasion, paired with bike storage shelters to protect cyclists from wind and rain whilst they are locking or unlocking their bike.
Flexible plastic bollards
It's common to see plastic bollards at road intersections where lane delineation is a problem and traffic requires additional guidance. Made from flexible plastics, this type of bollard can be knocked over or run into without being damaged. Instead, they will bend with the impact before popping back up into their original shape. This, coupled with high-visibility features like reflective strips, makes them the go-to option for areas with busy traffic.
Timber or wooden bollards are ideal for anywhere requiring a more natural solution. Made from dense, rot-resistant types of hardwood such as Opepe, these bollards blend in beautifully with their surroundings to preserve the overall aesthetic of the landscape.
You typically find timber bollards in parks, woodland or National Trust areas and the shared car parks of residential buildings.
Construction bollards can typically be found on building sites as a safety measure to protect workers and machine operators from being injured by moving vehicles or heavy objects. They can also be used to guide site traffic, such as delivery trucks, diggers, tractors and support vehicles safely through any hazardous areas.
These bollards are usually made from pliant, brightly coloured plastic to increase visibility and make it easy for workers to move them around the site as required. They are also often fitted with reflective tape to ensure they stand out against oncoming traffic.
A ram raid is an attempted robbery or break-in where the criminal drives a vehicle at high speed through the front of a shop or store window with the goal of stealing things from inside. Businesses such as jewellers, electronics stores and sellers of other high value items are most at risk from this type of burgulary, so additional security measures are recommended.
Anti-ram bollards are designed to prevent such instances of violent robbery from occuring by providing impact-resistant protection immediately outside a storefront. Anti-ram raid bollards are typically made from ultra-strong metals such as steel and polyurethane, with additional steel reinforcement tubes running through their cores to ensure they don’t fracture on impact.
Bollards aren’t just for security; they can also serve as a fantastic aesthetic enhancement that can completely transform the entire look and feel of an outdoor space. Illuminated bollards are one of the most popular types of bollards for this purpose, providing much-needed lighting at night and adding a great sense of atmosphere to areas such as pedestrian walkways, parks, public plazas, hotel entrances and more.
Illuminated bollards come in a number of different forms, some being powered by mains electricity and others being engineered to operate using solar panels. Both have pros and cons - the former generally emits a brighter light and is unaffected by the weather, whilst the latter is protected against power outages and runs on renewable sources of energy.
What is the main difference between a bollard and a barrier?
The distinguishing characteristics of a bollard are its smaller size and cylindrical shape. Bollards are located at hip height, while barriers are usually much taller.
What is a K-rated bollard?
A K rating, or kinetic rating, is determined by the penetration distance of a vehicle's front bumper past a security barrier. It measures the penetration impact of a car of a particular weight at a certain speed.
What is a K4 bollard?
If a bollard is rated as a K4 bollard, it can stop a car weighing about 6800 kg traveling at 48 KM/h from proceeding.