Nationwide Service Free, No Obligation Site Survey & Consultation Design, Installation & Maintenance
Get in touch

What are bollards? And why do you need them?

See those short posts sticking up from the ground? Those are bollards. And now that you know what they are, you can’t miss them ever again!

But what are bollards exactly, and why would you ever need them? We’re going to explain what bollards are, what they’re used for, the types of bollards you might see, as well as what they’re made from and how bollards can benefit you. So if you run a business and you want to keep your premises safe (or you’re a homeowner) – read on.

What are bollards?

Simply put, bollards are sturdy posts that protect a specific perimeter and act as a guide to vehicles. Whichever area the bollards are placed in, is completely up to you. They can remain fixed upright, retract back into the ground electrically or be manually put into position. As bollards are very versatile, they can be used in all sorts of locations. Bollards are easy-to-install and even easier to maintain, making them an ideal security solution.

Where did bollards come from?

Believe it or not, bollards have been used for centuries – since the 17th century to be exact. Whilst they seem to look like a modern solution to modern problems, back in the 17th and 18th centuries – old cannons were sometimes used as bollards on quaysides to moor ships. These cannons were buried muzzle-first into the ground, leaving the rear end projecting above the ground. Why? To prepare for battle ASAP of course. This led to the iconic ‘cannon’ shape that you may associate with bollards. 

How bollards changed overtime

Although we could go on forever about the history of bollards, the key changes we’ve witnessed to bollards over time have been the result of societal change. For example, in the early 1800s, Amsterdam residents began installing cast-iron bollards in front of their homes and businesses. This was done to prevent damage from carriage traffic, as there were no curbs or yards to protect their properties. This marked the beginning of a trend throughout the city, as Amsterdam started installing bollards to clearly identify pedestrian walkways.

Then came motorised vehicles in the late 1880s. bollards had to adapt once again to be more robust in case one of these vehicles went a little awry. So as you can tell, as times changed, so did the bollards, leading us to the diverse array of bollards we see today.

What are they used for now?

You’ve probably already been in contact with many different types of bollards, even if you haven’t taken much notice of them. Bollards are a great way to secure your building and keep staff and customers safe, to restrict access and to control traffic. They can also be used for home security, for that added peace of mind, and to keep vehicles out of your driveway. 

What type of bollard do I need? 

Choosing the right bollard depends on the level of security you require, as well as the exterior aesthetic of your property or commercial space. Metal bollards offer high security, while wooden models blend well with natural landscapes. It’s also important to consider whether you want your bollards to be permanent or retractable. Consulting with a safety expert like ourselves can help guide you to the right choice for your specific needs.

Ultimately – picking a bollard that’s right for you depends on a few factors:

  • Budget – How much are you willing to spend on bollard installation? There are some cheaper, cost-effective options, without fancy features but they get the job done. Or, you could go all out and purchase a remotely accessed, electric set of bollards.
  • Aesthetics – Are you wanting your bollards to blend into the area, be unobtrusive and aesthetically pleasing? Then maybe sleek, metal bollards are right for you. Otherwise, concrete bollards, despite not being much to look at, have the same function. 
  • Access – Do you want to permanently restrict vehicle access, or just keep an eye on who’s coming and going? If it’s the latter, then retractable bollards are the best way forward. 

Types of bollards

There are multiple types of bollards, each offering different functions and security levels. All are durable and will withstand any weather conditions. 

Retractable metal bollards

If permanent bollards aren’t for you, then retractable ones are definitely the way to go. These metal bollards can be removed, pushed into the ground, or remotely retracted to provide access to various areas. They become flat when a vehicle needs to pass over. 

Automatic bollards

The perfect solution to modest security is automatic bollards. These posts will retract to offer easy access at whatever time you choose, ideal for busy areas such as hospital car parks or retail areas. With a strong and robust exterior, these automated posts can work quickly and efficiently at any pace you choose. Fitted with LED lights, they’re even visible at night. Automatic bollards are great if your site has a lot of regular traffic passing through.

Electric bollards

Don’t have enough space for an electric gate? Use electric bollards instead! Cost-effective and easy on the eyes, you’ll have wished you installed them years ago. Also known as driveway bollards, these electric wonders are great at restricting vehicle access to properties and buildings in lower traffic areas. They may be small, but they’re definitely mighty, and they’re easily operated with a remote control system. 

Telescopic bollards 

These simple and easy-to-use bollards are a quick and effective solution for securing your property. Fully retractable, telescopic bollards can be manually locked into an upright position when needed, or be pushed below ground when they are not. A perfect security addition to your car park or shop front. 

Embedded bollards 

Wanting a bollard that’s not going anywhere anytime soon? Then take a look at embedded bollards. As they’re buried deep into the ground by foundations such as concrete, steel or dirt, some will be stronger than others depending on the chosen foundation.  

Concrete bollards

Made of concrete rather than metal, these bollards are probably the most common. We’ve all seen a concrete bollard at some time or another, and there’s a reason for this; they’re very robust and do their job well. The downside is that they do their job so well that there’s no budging them, and crashing into them will result in a lot of damage to your vehicle and little damage to the bollards themselves. 

Surface-mounted bollards

This variation of a bollard is very common, mainly because they are relatively cheap and easy-to-install. Unlike other types of bollards, these have no underground foundations and are simply attached to the floor; due to this, they are not as robust as other bollards. They can come in all forms – plastic, metal and rebounding – but it is probably only the rebounding that will act as a proper security measure. 

Rebounding bollards

As bollards go, the rebounding variety is relatively new. When they’re hit they absorb the impact with the clever use of energy absorption technology and tilt. Due to it being on a spring, this bollard can return to an upright position quickly. The best thing about these bollards is the lack of damage they do to vehicles, unlike concrete bollards which have no flexibility at all. 

How are bollards used?

Bollards come in all types and variations, each serving different functions depending on specific requirements set by a business or homeowner. There are permanent or fixed bollards, which are installed in a way that they cannot be moved – typically found in public spaces to restrict vehicle entry such as in promenades and pedestrianised areas in city centres.

Semi-permanent bollards, on the other hand, are retractable and can be lowered into the ground to allow vehicle access when needed. They are commonly used in areas where occasional vehicle entry is required, such as private properties or restricted-access zones.

Let’s explore some of the diverse applications of bollards and understand why they are particularly effective in each use case:

1. Traffic bollards

These bollards serve to guide the flow of traffic, ensuring clear sight lines and delineating specific areas, such as traffic islands, cycling lanes, and public squares. They prove useful in areas where there are no curbs, preventing vehicles from encroaching into pedestrian zones. Often, they are integrated with other traffic calming measures like speed bumps.

2. Pedestrian bollards

Mainly serving an aesthetic purpose, pedestrian bollards are used to mark the boundaries of pedestrian areas. Arranged in lines, they can add a touch of architectural elegance whilst providing clear indications of pedestrian boundaries. Planners and architects sometimes link them with chains to guide pedestrians without creating a solid barrier.

3. Mooring bollards

Essential for docking boats and ships in ports, mooring bollards are installed in lines along the port’s edge, equipped with special holes for securing mooring ropes.

4. Construction bollards

Contractors often deploy temporary bollards in construction zones to signal work areas and prevent unauthorised traffic. Typically made of lightweight materials like plastic, these bollards are placed close together for easy transportation and installation.

5. Bike lane separation

Bollards are employed to separate bike lanes from vehicular traffic, reducing potential conflicts and providing a safer cycling environment. They are particularly useful on busy roads with high cyclist volumes, encouraging more people to use bicycles as a mode of transportation.

6. Security bollards

Engineered to withstand vehicle impacts, these bollards are crucial for securing sensitive areas and deterring unauthorised access. High-quality materials like iron, steel, and concrete, along with robust engineering, are key components in installing effective security bollards.

7. Bicycle parking bollards

Designed to provide secure bicycle parking, these bollards often feature a round shape with modern designs incorporating channels for u-locks and chains. Promoting cycling over driving, they contribute to sustainable urban development.

8. Anti-ram bollards

Employed to prevent ram-raiding, a type of burglary where a vehicle is used to forcefully gain access to a closed shop, these bollards are built with strong, impact-resistant materials and deep foundations to stop vehicles travelling at high speeds.

Why do we need bollards?

Bollards are widely used to provide security for various properties, primarily due to the ongoing need for safety against traffic incidents. They act as a protective barrier for both pedestrians and buildings, helping to mark pedestrian zones, shield storefronts from potential vehicle threats, and manage traffic flow in busy urban areas. This not only ensures the privacy of property owners but also contributes to the overall safety of both drivers and pedestrians.

Plus, using bollards to secure your premises is a very popular form of security, and it’s a very simple one at that. They’ve become a cheaper, popular alternative to protecting your property from unauthorised vehicle access.

Installing bollards

Our team has years of experience installing bollards; it’s fast, simple, and won’t take up too much of your time. We will also show you how to use your equipment effectively; that way, you’ll never miss out on the benefits of bollard usage. 

How to look after bollards

Bollards basically look after themselves, but sometimes they need a bit of TLC. That’s why we offer system maintenance on all of our products. With two scheduled checks every year, your bollards will receive the attention they deserve. We will also give you a 12 month guarantee, so if anything goes wrong we’ll be there for you. 

How expensive are bollards?

The cost of bollards varies depending on the type, material, and installation requirements. While some basic models can be cost-effective, high-grade security bollards can be more expensive. However, considering the level of protection they offer, investing in quality bollards is often a worthwhile decision. We can guide you through the various bollards available and work with your budget to ensure your security is reinforced.

Do you need planning permission to install bollards?

Whether you need planning permission to install bollards depends on the location of installation. If the bollards are to be installed on private land, permission is usually not required. However, it is always advisable to check with your local council if permission is required – especially if you’re on a grade II listed property.

Can bollards really stop vehicles?

Bollards, particularly security and anti-ram bollards, are designed to resist vehicle impact and restrict unauthorised access. They are effective in stopping vehicles, which is why they are commonly seen around pedestrian crossings, corners, and in front of shops.

If you’re interested in installing bollards on your premises, or are just wanting to see if they’re right for you, contact us today.