Privacy and security are two very important things, both in the public realm and in our personal lives. For thousands of years, we have all yearned for feelings of safety and the assurance that our homes and possessions are protected against damage or theft.
Achieving this isn't always the most straightforward of tasks, though, which has led to a demand for solutions that provide additional layers of security and protection. Bollards have long been one of these solutions, but have risen to unprecedented levels of popularity in recent times.
In this guide, we'll be taking a look at the definition and function of bollards in modern life so that you have all the information you need to use them to your advantage.
What are bollards?
Bollards are short posts that are designed to function as a protective or restrictive feature on both private and public land. They are generally made from sturdy, impact-resistant materials such as metal and concrete and can be permanent or retractable fixtures.
They can also be used to serve as visual guides for traffic in urban areas. Drivers and other road users can avoid accidents by following pre-mapped routes and respecting clear no entry zones. Especially in busy, built-up cities, bollards are essential for indicating where vehicles are and aren't allowed - in a traffic island, pedestrian area, and cycling lane, for example.
How are bollards used?
Permanent or fixed bollards are designed to be immovable, meaning they are installed directly onto a surface or landscape. They maintain their upright position at all times, acting as a permanent barrier or protector to prevent access. This type of bollard is more commonly found in public spaces such as promenades and city-centre pedestrianised zones where there will never be an instance in which vehicle access is required.
Semi-permanent bollards are designed to be retractable and, as such, are engineered to slide into and out of recesses within the ground. This enables bollards to be lowered when not in use or to allow vehicle access to and from a property.
Let's look at some common uses for bollards and why they are particularly effective in each situation.
Traffic bollards are used to guide traffic, ensuring that vehicles go to appropriate areas and that sight lines are clear. They create roadway demarcations and restrict access to areas such as traffic islands, cycling lanes, and public squares.
If a roadway doesn't have a kerb, then a traffic bollard can be useful for preventing vehicles from straying onto pedestrian areas. They're also used in combination with other traffic calming methods like speed bumps.
These are largely decorative and are used to define the limits of a pedestrian area. If placed in a line, pedestrian bollards can add architectural flair while indicating where the perimeter is. Planners and architects often link bollards together with chains as a way of encouraging pedestrians to stay on a marked path without needing to form a closed barrier.
When sailing into a harbour or port, boats and ships need mooring bollards to prevent them from drifting away. This type of bollard is installed in lines along the edge of a port and has special holes for mooring ropes.
If construction is taking place in an area, contractors normally place temporary posts to indicate the work area and prevent unauthorised traffic. They're usually placed quite close together and made from lightweight materials like plastic to allow for easy transportation.
Bike lane separation
To reduce driving stress and protect cyclists, bollards are used to demarcate bike lanes and encourage more people to commute via bicycle. Busy roads that are used by large numbers of commuters are prime locations for bike lane bollards to prevent collisions between cyclists and drivers.
Security bollards are designed to resist vehicle impact, restrict access, and deter trespassers from entering areas without authorisation. To install effective security bollards you need to use high-quality, durable materials like iron, steel, and concrete as well as a good amount of engineering oversight.
Bicycle parking bollards
These bollards provide cyclists with a safe place to park their bikes. You'll find that they have a round shape with some modern designs also featuring channels to facilitate the use of u-locks and chains.
An additional benefit of this type of bollard is the fact that, by encouraging more people to cycle rather than take a car, they are an effective way of supporting sustainable development in urban areas.
Ram-raiding is a type of 'smash-and-grab' theft in which a burglar drives a vehicle through the windows or doors of a closed shop to gain access and loot items. Shop owners often invest in anti-ram bollards to prevent this.
The use of strong, impact-resistant materials and deep foundations is essential to stop vehicles that are travelling at speed.
What different styles of bollards are there?
Bollards aren't just functional, they can also be used to enhance the aesthetic appeal of a location. Different styles of bollards can transform the look and feel of a street, wharf, promenade, pedestrian area, or building, so choosing the right design is important.
Traditional styles of bollards are usually made from iron or steel and have a black finish. They are used to preserve the heritage and history of outdoor locations, with their design being inspired by the bollards used in previous centuries.
Modern, more contemporary bollards are sleek in appearance and are usually made from stainless steel. They are ideal for adding a touch of elegance and finesse to both indoor and outdoor areas.
Bollards with integrated lighting provide illumination in public spaces and on pathways. If not connected to an electrical grid, they can be powered by a solar panel.
If a vehicle crashes into a high-impact bollard, it will more than likely come to a stop. They're generally made from steel and filled with cement. A lot of thought goes into the engineering and placement of these bollards to make sure they are robust enough to withstand vehicles moving at speed.
What materials are bollards made from?
The most effective type of bollard will depend on the application and situation in question. Each material has different features and benefits which should be taken into consideration.
This is an alloy that's lighter and more impact-resistant than iron. When used for security, steel bollards are usually filled with concrete. It's more common to find steel bollards being used for decorative purposes.
Bollards made from stainless steel look sleek and modern. They're also extremely weather-resistant and come in two different strength grades to provide further application options. Stainless steel doesn't require much maintenance as it is weather resistant and easy to clean.
Depending don't the type of plastic used, this type of bollard can either be flexible or shatter upon impact. Plastic bollards can be made to look like impact-resistant bollards, though, to deter trespassers.
Concrete is solid with an imposing profile. It can also be shaped to create attractive designs and used in combination with steel bollards. Concrete bollards are commonly used in streetscaping, providing a hard-wearing obstacle and essential demarcation in built-up locations.
This material is flexible, durable, and weather-resistant. Polyurethane bollards are installed when function and cost are more important than style. They're often used for parking lots, along medians, and for delimiting lanes.
Bollards made from wood are ideal for preserving natural, organic design schemes or for blending in with rural settings. Wood is not as strong as metal or concrete, but is still suitable for making properties more secure. An additional benefit is that a wooden bollard will be lighter in weight than a metal alternative, making it easier to remove if needed.
Bollards can be enhanced in both form and function with a range of accessories. For example, things like integrated illumination can be added to aid wayfinding and make bollards more easily visible in low light levels and ropes or chains can be used to connect individual bollards together to make more imposing barriers.
Do you fill bollards with concrete?
Most bollards are usually core drilled, meaning they're more or less like fence posts. You don't necessarily have to fill bollards with concrete but whether you do so may depend on the nature of the building you're trying to protect and the style of bollard you want.
If you're not sure which type will suit you, then be sure to check out our extensive collection of bollards.
Do you need planning permission to install bollards?
Whether or not you need permission to install bollards depends on where exactly you plan on installing them. If the bollards will be positioned on your own private land, then you won't require permission to have them installed. To be safe, always check your local laws prior to you making any installations.
Can bollards stop vehicles?
One of the main reasons that bollards are used to protect buildings is because of their immense strength, especially anti-ram ones. This type of bollard is commonly used to stop cars, hence why you see them around pedestrian crossings, corners, and storefronts.
How expensive are bollards?
Bollards are available in a range of different prices, with more expensive options generally offering greater protection and longevity. To maximise the effectiveness of your bollards, try to choose the highest quality model you can afford as it will be a long-lasting investment that will add value to your home.
What type of bollard is best for my home?
The best type of bollard for your home or driveway will depend on the level of security you require and the exterior aesthetic of your property. Metal bollards are more secure than plastic or timber bollards, but wooden models can blend in better with natural landscapes. Also consider whether or not you want your bollards to be permanent or retractable.