What Is A Bollard?

what is a bollard

The short answer to “What is a bollard?” is that it’s a short post, often used for traffic management and safety. Delving deeper, these upright posts, ranging from decorative bollards that blend with architectural style to safety bollards, steel bollards and heavy duty bollards, serve multiple purposes in our urban daily lives.

Use of Bollards in Our Day-to-Day Lives

Bollards play a consistent role in our daily urban experience, even if we don’t always notice them. Their primary function is to ensure safety by creating clear distinctions between pedestrian areas and vehicle zones. This division reduces the risk of vehicular accidents involving pedestrians or infrastructure.

In city centres, bollards help manage traffic flow. They deter vehicles from entering pedestrian-only zones, ensuring areas like shopping districts or town squares remain free from unwanted traffic. They create safe zones for children and parents when close to schools during busy drop-off or pick-up times.

Bollards protect cyclists on roads, especially those with cycle lanes, by creating a barrier between them and motor vehicles. This distinction gives cyclists a safer space to travel and encourages more people to opt for this environmentally friendly mode of transport.

Anti-parking bollards on a hard-shoulder

Evolution of Bollard Styles

The design and function of bollards have undergone a significant transformation over the years. Originally, they were simple posts made from sturdy materials like wood or metal. As urban requirements became more complex, so did the design and technology used in bollards, from illuminated bollards for night-time safety to eco-friendly solar-powered ones.

What Are Bollards Used For?

  • Safety and Protection: Safety bollards act as a protective or architectural perimeter, ensuring pedestrians are safe from road traffic. They protect buildings from potential vehicle attacks, effectively acting as a buffer against any impacting vehicle.
  • Traffic Control: With the rise in pedestrian areas in urban settings, bollards guide traffic, making spaces like shopping districts and parking lots safer. Their presence helps control road traffic, ensuring easy access for all, as well as helping to guide pedestrian traffic safely in areas with a lot of vehicle access.
  • Architectural and Aesthetic Enhancement: Cast iron bollards and decorative elements in bollard design enhance the appeal of public places, offering both form and function.
  • Security: Use of the security bollard, particularly in areas like government buildings, deter potential threats. Their stopping power is a testament to their impact resistance.
  • Versatility in Function: The range extends from removable bollards, which can be adjusted for events, to manually retractable bollards, which provide adaptable solutions based on urban needs.

The Types of Bollards

Let’s take a look at some of the different commonly used types of bollards.

Safety Bollards

These are frontline protectors. Positioned primarily in busy areas, safety bollards act as a shield for pedestrians from wayward vehicles. They also stand guard in front of buildings, preventing potential vehicle damage. In essence, they silently ensure our day-to-day safety in urban areas.

Decorative Bollards

Blending function with aesthetics, decorative bollards aren’t just about protection. While they can serve a safety purpose, they’re primarily designed to enhance the visual appeal of public spaces. With intricate designs, they add character and charm, making streets and parks more welcoming.

Security Bollards

These bollards mean business. More robust and fortified security bollards are typically deployed to prevent unauthorised vehicle access to secure zones. Whether it’s protecting a government building, bike lanes, or a pedestrian zone, these bollards are designed to stop vehicles in their tracks.

Construction Bollards

Have you ever seen those brightly coloured or reflective bollards near building sites? Those are construction bollards. Their primary role is to signal ongoing construction, ensuring the safety of both workers and the general public. They act as markers, indicating areas to avoid or approach with caution.

Removable Bollards

These are the flexible friends of the bollard world. Removable bollards come into play when a space needs temporary protection or access control. They can be lifted or shifted as needed, making them ideal for areas with varying requirements, like events or changing pedestrian zones.

Levels of Impact Resistance of a Bollard

Bollards differ not only in function but also in resilience. While some can handle a gentle nudge, others are designed to resist significant impacts.

The Strength Spectrum: Bollards are categorised based on their impact resistance. Whether it’s a light bollard to deter parking on pavement or a heavy-duty one to prevent vehicle ramming, there’s a specific bollard strength for every scenario.

Steel parking bollards

Material Varieties in Bollard Construction

When it comes to the different types of bollards, a few common materials are used. These include:

Cast Iron Bollards: A classic choice for many urban environments, cast iron bollards combine durability with aesthetic appeal. Their sturdy nature offers excellent impact resistance, while their ornate designs can complement various architectural styles.

Concrete Bollards: These bollards are known for their robustness and are often used in areas where high-impact resistance is crucial. Concrete bollards’ sheer weight and strength make them a top choice for protective perimeters around government buildings and other high-security zones.

Reflective Bollards: Designed with safety and visibility in mind, these bollards often feature reflective tape. They’re commonly used in construction zones, parking lots, and other areas where night-time visibility is vital.

Where They Are Used

Bollards are prominently found in busy urban areas, often demarcating pedestrian zones, directing traffic flow, and safeguarding vulnerable structures or areas.

The Role of Bollards in Traffic Management

Traffic Islands and Bollards: Traffic islands often incorporate bollards, especially flexible bollards, to provide clear demarcations in complex junctions. These setups guide traffic efficiently and reduce the chances of vehicular collisions.

Lane Delineators: Especially prevalent near bike paths and pedestrian areas, these bollards ensure that different traffic types remain in their designated lanes. They create a continual visual edge, helping guide traffic and ensure safety.

Bollards in Retail and Commercial Spaces

Retail Shelving and Bollards: In retail environments, bollards can protect vulnerable areas like retail shelving or refrigeration units from accidental impacts, ensuring both products and shoppers remain safe.

Parking Lots and Bollards: Parking lots are often bustling with pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Bollards, particularly removable bollards and flexible bollards help demarcate pedestrian pathways, protect assets, and guide vehicles to proper parking zones.

Bollards: Aesthetic and Functional

Decorative Elements in Bollards: Bollards are functional and can also be decorative. From intricate cast iron designs to modern architectural style bollards, the variety available allows urban planners to choose options that enhance the beauty of public spaces.

Bollards Fit for Cycling Enthusiasts: Bollards play a pivotal role in the rise of cycling. Bicycle parking bollards and lane delineators on bike paths ensure that cycling customers and Amsterdam residents alike have safe and secure spaces to travel and park.

Anti-parking bollards in the city.

Installing and Maintaining Bollards

The effectiveness of a bollard isn’t solely about its design or material but also its correct installation and maintenance. Proper care is essential, whether it’s ensuring the right depth for a bollard’s foundation or using protective coatings to enhance durability.

A Note From Us: Armco Direct

At Armco Direct Ltd, we pride ourselves on being more than just a supplier; we are a trusted partner in ensuring safety and protection. For over a decade, we have stood as one of the UK’s leading suppliers of Armco barrier products. Our galvanised steel Armco Barrier Systems are designed for a broad spectrum of internal and external applications, each tailored with features that aim to safeguard businesses from potential damage and injury.

Our extensive array of high-quality products, our deep industry expertise, and our unwavering dedication to our clients set us apart. We understand the value of service, and our commitment to excellence resonates in every interaction. When you choose Armco Direct, you choose a legacy of quality, knowledge, and unparalleled service.

Contact us for more information!

Steel bollards on a pavement next to a road.

Bollards vs. Barriers: What’s The Difference?

Bollards and barriers, although having distinct characteristics, also share some fundamental similarities. Both are designed primarily to ensure safety and manage traffic flow within various settings. Bollards, being standalone vertical posts, subtly demarcate spaces, offering protection and often blending seamlessly into urban landscapes.

Barriers, such as those provided by Armco Direct, are elongated, robust structures mainly focused on preventing or diverting vehicle movement. These barriers are particularly adept for off-highway scenarios, where certain impact risks might be more pronounced. However, their mutual goal binds bollards and barriers: creating safer environments for pedestrians and drivers. While bollards serve as sentinels, allowing pedestrian flow, barriers present a formidable line of defence against potential vehicular threats.

The Future Of Bollards

With technological advancements and urban planning needs, the future of bollards promises even more innovation. As cities steer towards becoming smart and sustainable, bollards are embracing this change. From being equipped with sensors that collect real-time data to assist in urban planning, to harnessing solar energy for self-sufficiency and environmental benefits, bollards are set for a transformative journey. Moreover, with an emphasis on enhancing urban aesthetics, we can anticipate bollards with versatile designs, adeptly merging form and function to harmonise with the changing visage of modern cities.

steel bollards pavement road 1


The multifaceted role of bollards in our urban landscapes cannot be understated. From mooring bollards that secure vessels at docks to pedestrian bollards that ensure the safety of individuals walking our streets, each bollard type fulfils a distinct function. The street bollard often stands as a silent sentinel, blending seamlessly into the cityscape while carrying out its duty to prevent vehicle access where needed. Whether the robust bollard posts are reinforced with concrete anchors or the more subtle non-crash-resistant bollards, they are pivotal in ensuring urban safety. As cities evolve, so does the importance of these structures in offering asset protection, proving that bollards are indeed integral to modern urban planning.

Related: 12 Strong Facts About Safety Barriers | Warehouse Bollards: Are They Worth the Investment? |


Here we answer some of your frequently asked questions about bollard posts.

What Is The Purpose Of Bollards?

Bollards are sturdy posts designed primarily for safety and traffic control. They protect pedestrians, buildings, and other structures from vehicles, demarcate spaces, and can also enhance the aesthetic appeal of certain areas.

Can A Bollard Stop a Car?

Yes, certain bollards, especially security bollards, are constructed to withstand vehicular impact and can effectively stop a car. Similarly, crash barriers are designed to absorb and redirect the force from a vehicle, minimising damage and injury.

What Are Bollards On Roads?

Bollards on roads are traffic control measures. In conjunction with crash barriers, they manage vehicle flow, demarcate pedestrian zones, shield vulnerable areas, and restrict unauthorised vehicular access to specific road sections.

Can I Put A Bollard On My Drive In The UK?

Yes, you can install a bollard in the UK’s private driveway. It serves as an effective measure to prevent unauthorised parking or access. However, ensuring it doesn’t obstruct public pathways or cause a hazard is essential. You should also check with your local council for any specific regulations or permissions required in your area.

How Much Force Can A Bollard Stop?

The specific force resistance is often quantified in terms of ‘kilojoules’ or the vehicle’s speed and weight it can halt. For instance, some high-security bollards can stop a 7.5-tonne lorry travelling at 30 mph. It’s essential to choose a bollard that matches the location’s specific requirements and potential threats. Consulting with a manufacturer or specialist, like those at Armco Direct, can provide detailed specifications on a bollard’s stopping power.