The 7 questions you’ve probably asked before choosing bollards for your project

Author:

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Category: Articles

Tags:

Often a forgotten piece of construction projects large and small, the right bollard can become the cornerstone of any landscape feature or architectural facade. 

But just what product is right for you? Where should you start? It’s best to begin with the basics. To help you get started, we’ve compiled answers to the most commonly asked questions our team has received over the years.

A series of black bollards on a sidewalk

#1 – When should bollards be considered?

Bollards are most commonly used as visual barriers tasked with outlining the borders between pedestrian and vehicular areas, as well as deterring unauthorized access. A majority of the products used for this function are not crash-rated. 

Bollards should be considered any time there is a need for pedestrian, storefront or building impact protection. Depending on the nature of a project, documents will specify bollards’ required impact performance. We will explore crash ratings in further detail below. 

In other cases, architects or landscape architects draw bollards into plans as a way to create aesthetically appealing ways to separate spaces. In some of these cases, bollards are purely decorative and provide no impact protection.

It’s the reality on most landscape projects that bollards feature both performance and aesthetic requirements. Removable bollards, like those outfitted with our newly patented Twist andLockmount, can turn any streetscape into a flexible hybrid allowing users to modify pedestrian and vehicular usage according to a wider variety of use cases.

#2 – How much does it cost to install a bollard?

Below are some estimated baselinecosts that a client may expect to see from a contractor for bollard installation. The below figures are estimates only, bollard installation costs vary greatly depending on location and project conditions.

Estimate based on project requiring 15 to 20 bollards equal to BollardsUSA Century Series model.

New construction

*Site graded and prepared for bollard installation

  • Labor & materials: $450 – $700
  • Bollard cost: $578

Total installation cost per bollard: $1,028 – $1,278

Existing surface

*Bollard installed in existing concrete surface

  • Labor & materials: $300 – $550
  • Bollard cost: $578

Total installation cost per bollard: $878 – $1,128

The above figures include essential materials for bollard installation including concrete (1/3 cubic yard per bollard, 3,500 psi mix), concrete reinforcement (rebar and wire mesh) and equipment rental (mini-excavator, skid steer with auger bit or similarly priced equipment). Not included in the above estimate are additional materials and equipment such as traffic control rentals, plywood, pavement saw blades and disposal fees.

Labor costs for a typical bollard installation vary depending on the mounting option selected. Pipe mount installations typically require 24 to 48 inches of excavation which amounts to more labor hours than other methods featuring shallower mounts.

The bollard cost in the above estimate is based on a standard Century Series bollard and fixed mount installation kit. Removable bollards may cost approximately $200 -$300 more per bollard due to the additional components required to receive the bollard and allow easy removal.

Smaller bollard installation projects of two or three bollards will run higher costs in both labor and materials as well as product cost. Due to the cost of mobilization and setup time, short load fees and quantity pricing from suppliers, bollard installations consisting of 15 or more bollards realize a lower per-bollard installation cost than small installations.

The above estimate is not applicable to crash rated or K4 bollards.

The costs associated with crash rated bollard installations are anywhere from 50% -100% higher than that of standard decorative bollards.

#3 – How deep should a bollard be buried?

The correct depth to bury a bollard fluctuates depending on engineering requirements and the desired mounting method. Fixed bollards using in-ground pipe mounting methods generally require a minimum of 24 inches up to 48 inches of concrete embedment below grade.

Many bollard installation methods do not necessarily require in-ground burial of the bollard. Instead, they are fastened to a separate component that is embedded in concrete below ground. A low-profile concrete embedded iron base is cast in concrete at a depth of four inches to secure the bollard in place using an all-thread rod. Similarly, all-thread may be anchored into a pre-drilled hole no more than six inches below grade to secure the bollard down onto an existing concrete surface.

Removable bollards, such as our Twist & Lock product line, often benefit from a lower-profile design requiring only eight inches below grade burial for the concrete embedded receiver casting. Crash-rated bollards may require a burial depth greater than 48 inches, but low profile options are available for these applications as well.

The BollardsUSA K4 shallow mount is installed at 12 inches below grade.

You can find detailed, downloadable product specs on our product page.

A row of bollards by a staircase

#4 – How far apart should bollards be spaced?

Bollards should be placed between three to five feet apart to allow for pedestrian traffic access while simultaneously prohibiting vehicular traffic. In addition, bollards must allow for full wheelchair access in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Exact distances may differ depending on specific project requirements.

#5 – Do bollards need to be filled with concrete?

While most bollards are set within a concrete base, not all bollards are required to have a poured concrete interior. Generally, large-scale bollard manufacturers will sell products requiring concrete-filling post-installation. 

Often a misconception of product performance, proper interior pipe installation can make internal concrete and threaded pipe crash rating differences negligible. BollardsUSA products are installed using a threaded pipe interior, accompanied by an additional top cap allowing owners to screw the pipe into place.

With appropriate steel or cast iron parts inside the product, concrete may actually be the least necessary in terms of impact protection. 

However, certain projects do require bollards with filled concrete interiors, in which case our products will arrive without the top cap to allow for alternative concrete fixation.

Several bollards by a sidewalk

#6 – What are bollard impact resistance requirements?

In most cases, bollard impact resistance requirements are defined by the nature of the project in mind. While some project specifications define the aesthetic quality of the product, more high-risk locations may demand more significant levels of site security.

K-Ratings

Developed in 1985 by the U.S. State Department and revised in 2003 following the rising prevalence ofdomestic terrorism, K-Ratings certify products based on the distance the front bumper of a 15,000-pound vehicle is able to pass after impacting a certain barrier. Ratings are classified based on speed (K-ratings) and penetration (L-ratings) performance. 

K4 bollards, testing against a 30 mile per hour benchmark, are the most common. K8 (40 miles per hour) and K12 (50 miles per hour) bollards are often specified by projects requiring a higher emphasis on building or pedestrian security, such as for Federal building plans.

New ASTM ratings

Within the last decade, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) published standards F3016 & F3016M – 19: Standard Test Method for Surrogate Testing of Vehicle Impact Protective Devices at Low Speeds. These are more meticulous than the State Department standards they replace, defining ratings within categories broken out by vehicle weight and testing speed.

The ASTM classifications are: M (15,000 pounds), C (2,430 pounds), PU (5,070 pounds) and H (65,000 pounds). M40, for example, refers to testing M-category vehicles at 40 miles per hour. 

An additional rating specification was implemented to track penetration distance after impact, broken down into the following: P1 (≤ 3.3 ft), P2 (3.3-23.0 ft), P3 (23.1-98.4 ft) and P4 (≥ 98.4 ft).

#7 – How do I find a bollard installer in my area?

We recommend getting quotes from small, local concrete contractors.

In our experience, larger regional concrete contractors are not great candidates for bollard installation because they’re built for larger civil engineering projects requiring much more concrete than is needed to install bollards. Project specification, size and location may affect installer options.

Consult with us

At BollardsUSA, we understand that questions can be guided by specific project requirements. Our team is always available to answer your questions and help turn your vision into a reality.

Get a personal consultation.

Everything you need to know about bollard installation

Author:

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Category: Articles

Tags:

Correct installation of bollards is one of the most important aspects of any streetscape or landscape project where these fixtures are included.

In fact, the only thing more important than getting them in the ground properly is making sure you’ve chosen the right ones. (Learn more about that here.)

Understanding installation matters because the time, complexity and cost associated with it can vary significantly depending on the product type you’ve chosen and whether it must serve protective as well as aesthetic purposes.

Keep reading to ensure these considerations don’t catch you off guard too late.

And for a deeper discussion on what to think about as you specify bollards, read our in-depth guide.

How function determines installation method

Your bollards’ role will be the most important determining factor in how the products are installed.

Installation requirements fall on a spectrum of difficulty and cost depending on:

  • Whether bollards serve primarily aesthetic or protective purposes — or a blended multi-purpose role
  • Whether bollards are permanently installed or designed for removability

Permanently installed bollards

Purely decorative bollards that need not offer any protective or deterrent value are the most straightforward and least costly to install. Often, surface mounting via some simple hardware and a masonry drill is sufficient. Engaging a concrete contractor is not strictly necessary for installing purely decorative bollards, although many buyers engage these professionals anyway. They make quick work of it.

It’s common that bollards serving a primarily architectural purpose still must offer some degree of protection. When this is the case, the bollard will need to be embedded within new or existing concrete. If protective bollards are installed in an area without concrete, a subsurface concrete foundation is still necessary for the bollard to perform its protective role. As such, installation is more complex and comes at a higher cost. A concrete contractor is definitely recommended.

Finally, the most complicated (and costly) installation is for bollards serving primarily protective purposes in venues where they must meet specific crash ratings. Owing to these more strenuous requirements, installation is much more complex. Installation locations must be prepared for the excavation and pouring of footings that, in some instances, can go as deep as four feet below ground level. Further, a civil engineer must sign their approval that bollards are crash rated. Concrete contractors are necessary to perform the installation.

Removable bollards

But how do installation considerations change when bollards — whether they’re protective or decorative or both — must be removable?

This is generally harder to accomplish so engaging the right concrete contractor is key. However, BollardsUSA has made things a bit simpler with our patented Twist & Lock removable bollard system.

Twist & Lock installation involves embedding a casting into new concrete which is engineered to accept the bollard design of your choice. Then, just like the name says, bollards are twisted to lock into place. 

And if you’re worried that anyone could twist the fixtures out of the ground and walk off with them, our systems are designed such that they can only be removed via special anti-theft tooling.

Again, because installing Twist & Lock bollards involves embedding hardware in concrete, a concrete contractor is required. And if removable bollards must meet specific crash ratings, be prepared for a much more complex and strenuous installation process to ensure required engineer impact certifications are met. 

Searching for inspiration? Aesthetic appeal, pedestrian delineation and removability all make an appearance in this case study from Huntingburg, Indiana. Removable bollards help transform the busy downtown into a safe, pedestrian-oriented gathering space for events and festivals.

Consider K4 mounts for unique protective applications

In some cases, buyers need bollards that offer crash-rated protection but site conditions prevent them from installing fixtures to the required depth below ground level.

There’s a way around that: shallow foundation mounting. 

These bollard foundations are designed with a wider, shallower footprint and can be embedded roughly 12 inches below grade. This design spreads the energy of an impact laterally within a wider but lower-profile concrete slab rather than vertically through a very deep, narrow footing.

A side-by-side comparison drawing of deep mounting and shallow mounting for bollards.

Site prep considerations

Bollards are installed under two basic project scenarios: either they’re incorporated into a newly planned landscape or construction project, or they’re incorporated as an additional element in an existing space.

It’s comparatively easy to install bollards in existing spaces without demolition or other significant site prep if the bollards do not need crash ratings. As noted earlier, it’s just a matter of drilling into the existing concrete of a sidewalk, roadside or plaza and setting the fixtures in place with the necessary materials and hardware.

More often, though, bollards are but one part of a larger new landscape or streetscape project. Site preparation is obviously more involved under those circumstances.

Take care not to let your bollards’ required degree of crash protection go overlooked in project planning.

To achieve a crash-rated foundation, you’ll need sufficient space either deep below grade or wide. Be sure your preconstruction survey reveals what, if anything, lies underground. Remember that some bollards must be mounted as deep as four feet below grade. If you don’t have enough room that far down, you’ll need to go shallower but wider.

For example, during recent work in Newark, New Jersey, the specification of K4/M30 shallow mountings helped project leaders achieve maximum crash protection without worrying about the tangle of subsurface utilities they were sure to encounter in a dense urban environment.

Does BollardsUSA install bollards?

BollardsUSA manufactures and ships bollards nationwide from our foundry in Middlesboro, Kentucky, but we do not install bollards on-site. We always recommend engaging a trusted local concrete contractor for that.

That’s one of the most common questions our team is asked. See answers to the others here.

Get a quote or consult for custom options

It takes just a couple clicks to receive a quote for bollards for your next project. Start here — it’s super easy to select the product, choose colors and add-ons and review installation options.

If your upcoming work requires a more customized approach, our designers are ready to lend a hand. Connect with one here or give us an old-fashioned phone call at 1-502-554-1178. 

A real human in Kentucky will answer the phone. 

The guide to bollard specification and selection: Nearly everything you need to know

Author:

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Category: Articles

Tags:

Bollards are arguably the most flexible fixture of any hardscape.

They can stand out as a showpiece, or blend in entirely. They protect people and structures in applications ranging from courthouses and military bases to small-town storefronts and public parks.

In other words, you can put them practically anywhere, assign them almost any function and — if you choose the right manufacturer — give them almost any aesthetic quality so that they look like they belong.

Stainless steel bollards protect the entry plaza outside Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

So, you’ve got options. As far as types of bollards goes, maybe even too many.

And the last thing landscape architects and specifiers need is a confusing process that takes too long.

Our objective with this guide is to provide the information you need to specify bollards that perfectly match your project’s requirements — and fast.

It covers:

Click any of the bullet points above to jump directly to that discussion.

Jump to top.

Project parameters drive bollard specification decisions

Above, we hinted that bollard specification is quite widely variable because there are so many ways these fixtures are used.

To break it down most simply, bollards are specified for three main functions.

Specifying fixed decorative bollards

Architects specify decorative bollards because they are an effective way to define or divide spaces in a landscape without creating solid, coarse barriers like walls or fences that hamper access and diminish visual appeal.

Consider the perimeter of a fountain in the town square or the bicycle path meandering through a park. Bollards are common in these spaces because they add aesthetic appeal while preserving people’s ability to move freely.

Your objective, then, is choosing bollards that appear to belong. Available color schemes, design variety and other customizations will be your overriding concerns. What the bollards are made of, and how they are installed, are of secondary importance to preserving the overall aesthetic of a space.

Bollards surround a Christmas tree in a town square.

And though safety is not their primary function, decorative fixtures can keep people and landscapes safe due to the visual friction they introduce in someone’s field of view. Drivers who see barriers that separate one space from another — even that barrier takes the form of a row of bicycle bollards — are more likely to avoid them.  

Cost is covered in detail later, but purely decorative bollards are usually cheaper to buy and much cheaper to install because they do not need to meet any impact resistance criteria.

Specifying fixed protective bollards

These are fixtures specifically rated to withstand vehicular impacts of varying severity.

On one end of the ratings spectrum, protective bollards must be able to stop vehicles weighing 15,000 pounds traveling at 30 miles per hour. These are commonly specified to separate pedestrian and vehicular rights of way on local streets but certainly not along arterial roads or highways.

On the opposite end, bollards meeting the highest standard of protection are commonly found around sensitive buildings like federal courthouses, military installations or diplomatic posts. They must be able to stop a vehicle weighing 15,000 pounds traveling at 60 miles per hour. As the threat of terrorism increased worldwide, these hyper-protective bollards have become a key component of the protection of any military or government installation, including American sites subject to antiterrorism/force protection (AT/FP) benchmarks.

View the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers summary of AT/FP requirements here.

Obviously, these fixtures are more expensive to buy and involve a much more intensive (and therefore pricey) installation.

Some projects blend aesthetics and protection

When that’s the case, a specifier must be able to keep both the aesthetic and protective functions top-of-mind at once.

It is comparatively easy to define the degree of protection that bollards must provide. As long as you understand the installation site, its immediate surroundings and any other previously stated project specifications, you have what you need.

Similarly, aesthetic objectives are also rather easily defined. By the time it is up to you to specify fixtures, the project owner or architect has likely given instruction on what they want to see.

Stainless steel bollards separate a road from a pedestrian sidewalk outside Churchill Downs in Kentucky.

Here’s the hard part:

Locating a provider who can build bollards that look the way the owner wants them to look while also meeting crash protection requirements. Far fewer providers combine the engineering know-how and manufacturing equipment to make custom bollards that meet these complex hybrid requirements.

Which is best for you?

All this is to say that as a specifier, it’s not just that you’re responsible for choosing bollards. You must choose the right bollards.

That means you must balance the competing concerns of a project:

  • Meeting protective requirements, if any
  • Assuring aesthetic appeal
  • Securing timely delivery
  • Specifying correct installation
  • Keeping an eye on cost

Jump to top.

Bollards installation considerations by type: decorative vs. safety bollards

Specifying bollards is a linear process: You won’t know whether a decorative, protective or hybrid fixture is ideal without first understanding the overall project parameters and the environment in which the work will occur.

Similarly, the way a bollard is made and how it should be installed is only clear once you know whether you must specify for protective, decorative or hybrid purposes.

Decorative bollards materials and installation

With no crash ratings to worry about, purely decorative bollards can be made of anything. Specifiers’ only limitation will be cost.

Cast iron is a good choice because it is readily available, aesthetically pleasing and sturdy when properly coated and maintained. Timber beams, while quite cheap, are still a great choice in select settings. Heavy plastics are another option, though not a good one in our opinion. While they are cheap and easily customizable, they do not look the best and are frightfully easy to damage.

Other materials like stainless steel or concrete can be specified for decorative fixtures, but:

  • The low cost of concrete is outweighed by the extreme difficulty in getting it to look nice
  • Stainless steel is overly expensive; it looks beautiful but should only be specified for decorative use if the owner doesn’t mind paying a premium
Unsightly concrete bollards on a roadside.

Decorative bollard installation specifications are fairly rudimentary. If the fixtures will be installed on an existing concrete surface, one needs only to drill holes and bolt them down. For decorative bollards that will be placed somewhere away from an existing concrete surface, a modest concrete footing can be poured. Only in that latter case should hiring a concrete contractor for installation be necessary, provided they have the proper tools and know-how.

Protective bollards materials and installation

Protective bollards are usually made of concrete, steel or cast iron, and in many cases (such as when aesthetics and protection must coexist) you will encounter steel pipe bollards that fit inside a cast iron or plastic decorative sleeve.

Concrete bollard specification is the rarest. Pound for pound, concrete is cheaper than steel. But it takes much more concrete to offer an identical degree of protection as an anchored steel pipe does. As such, concrete bollards serving protective purposes are usually very large and bulky. And even if protection supersedes aesthetics, no one likes an eyesore.

That’s why steel pipe bollard specification (or steel pipe inside a cast iron sleeve) is far more common. When properly anchored, they offer maximum protection in a lower profile. Depending on their protective requirements, they may be made with double walls or anchored in enhanced steel foundations.

A moment ago, we used the phrase “anchored steel pipe.” This may lead to a question we are frequently asked: How deep should bollards be installed?

How deep should bollards be installed?

A traffic bollard’s required crash rating ultimately determines its installation specifications. When maximum protection is needed, bollards will need to be anchored to concrete footings that are sunk as much as four feet below grade. Generally, as protective requirements are reduced, the shallower a bollard’s footing can be poured.

(For some projects, digging downward is not an option. Consider specifying K4 shallow foundation mounting instead. This entails pouring a shallower but wider foundation instead of a narrow but deep one.)

While we’re on the topic of questions, here’s another: How far apart should bollards be?

How far apart should bollards be?

In protective or hybrid applications, station the fixtures no more than four or five feet apart. If aesthetics are all that matter, space them however you please. For crash-rated bollards, it is best to leave installation to the professionals. Engage a local concrete contractor. It’s no knock on them, but ordinary facility or municipal maintenance personnel do not have the needed equipment or skillset for these more complex installations.

Bollards separate a sidewalk from a road beside a public park.

Specifying bollards for both protection and aesthetic appeal

This is a challenge. As we observed above, you will need to balance the project’s protective requirements against an owner’s or architect’s aesthetic guidance.

Your best bet is to locate a manufacturer who has demonstrated they can deliver on both accounts and pick their brain in case their past experience applies nicely to your present project.

The engineers at BollardsUSA are happy to help. It’s easy to get a hold of them, too. Fill out the form here if you want, but you can also just call 1-502-554-1178. A real human in Kentucky will answer the phone.

We also very clearly provide specs on each of our products online — just use our easy selector tool in the products section of our site.

Jump to top.

Crash-rated bollard rules, regulations and standards: A quick survey of who’s in charge

There’s quite a patchwork of agencies and authorities that define rules and standards for crash-rated bollards.

ASTM publishes the F3016 and F2656 standards. The former covers low-speed impacts up to 30 miles per hour while the latter covers higher-speed impacts up to 60 miles per hour.

In addition to potentially meeting the ASTM standards above, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that permanent bollards in regulated work sites must be painted a canary yellow.

Bollards connected by chains separate pedestrian traffic in an urban setting.

Elsewhere, the U.S. Department of State published what used to be known as “K-ratings,” which defined how well the barriers outside their facilities needed to protect against vehicle impact. But in 2009, State conformed its requirements to those published by ASTM.

While the International Building Code (IBC) does not define crash ratings, they do offer recommendations regarding the dimensions and placement of bollards as they relate to building ingress, egress and service areas.

And then there’s your local municipality. A question commonly asked at the outset of any project is: Do I need planning permission to install bollards?

Do I need planning permission to install bollards?

The long answer is that it depends:

If your work is part of a project that already was subject to planning approval, that approval probably covers the bollard installation.

If you’re installing bollards adjacent to federal or state highways and the project is partially funded or subsidized by the fed or your state, regulators will need to verify the bollards meet crash ratings. In fact, the funding is often contingent on meeting those ratings.

If you’re part of a private entity specifying bollards for installation on property you own, you probably do not need planning permission so long as you’re simply bolting bollards to concrete at grade. But if you’re digging underground, you should assume that some third party, even if it is not the municipality, will need to sign off.

The short answer is, call your municipality to find out. Everyone’s rules are bound to vary. And speaking of rules…

When are bollards required?

A simple answer might be that bollards are required in any setting where pedestrians or structures must be protected against other traffic.

But it’s not that straightforward: Whether the requirement comes from a city council, state legislature or federal agency, it won’t specifically state that “bollards” must be installed.

Instead, it’ll use the word “barrier” or something similarly vague. Barriers are commonly required to control access to city, state and federal government buildings as well as military and diplomatic installations.

A bollard in a pedestrian path within a mixed use development.

Bollards can be considered barriers if they’re appropriately spaced, but a brick wall is a barrier, too. So is a fence or a jersey barrier or even a concrete flower pot.

So, when are bollards required?

Bollards are required when municipal authorities or architects specify that they are the appropriate barrier for the project. Many factors inform this decision, including city planning guidelines, traffic control requirements, pedestrian safety concerns and, as always, aesthetic appeal.

If you’re in doubt, get in touch with any regulating authority involved on the project.

Jump to top.

Bollard paint specification: A quick word on protective coatings

Any bollard installed out in the elements will degrade over time, so protection is crucial.

So, should you paint bollards?

If they’re only made of concrete, yes, you should paint them. Not all coatings are created equal, so be sure you’re using one specifically made for concrete adhesion.

As for cast iron, you have a couple options. Coating cast iron with paint is actually a bad idea because paint degrades when exposed to the elements. That degradation may lead to chipping or peeling which increases the risk of corrosion of the iron underneath.

If you want a smooth, even and attractive finish, powder coating is ideal for cast iron. Powder coating involves the application of organic powder by electrostatic attraction to metal creating a smooth, durable surface finish. In addition to superior longevity and corrosion resistance, powder coating is a more efficient and environmentally friendly coating process than traditional wet paint. Any overspray with powder coating is reclaimed and re-used, and there is no use of environmentally harmful materials since chemical solvents and VOCs are not required.

A bollard top with a custom stamped logo.

It’s also worth noting that cast iron does not require a coating of any kind to effectively resist corrosion or weathering. In fact, bare cast iron is among the most corrosion resistant building materials available. As cast iron is exposed to normal environmental conditions, it will oxidize, or rust. The oxidation of carbon-based metals like cast iron will transition from orange to dark brown colors over time, depending on age and exposure. After a period of time the cast iron develops an oxide layer, or patina, on its surface which acts as a highly durable, visually appealing and 100% maintenance-free finish.

One could sidestep coating requirements by specifying stainless steel bollards, but be sure to weigh the pros and cons. It’s a comparatively expensive option but its corrosion resistance is very high. However, they don’t always look great in settings with a more traditional aesthetic appeal. In that case, opt for powder-coated steel or cast iron. Browse our products to see a wide range of bollard finishes as well as other options, including materials, dimensions, mounts and customizations.

Jump to top.

Consider specifying removable bollards for maximum flexibility

So far, we’ve confined this discussion to fixed bollards that, once installed, stay where they are for life.

But some project requirements are unique enough to warrant fixtures that offer suitable pedestrian protection or space definition one day and then disappear the next.

Here’s where removable bollards come in. They’re engineered for easy removal or replacement inside permanent embedded receivers.

View from above of an embedded mount for a removable bollard.

Same as fixed bollard specifications, removable bollard specifications will vary based on what degree of protection — if any — they must provide. They are best suited for spaces that support many and varied uses.

To get a clearer picture of the versatility these products offer, read about the ones we provided for the city of Huntingburg, Indiana in this case study. With removable bollards incorporated into Huntingburg’s downtown, the city today can turn busy 4th Street into a pedestrian-only open-air space in the snap of a finger.

Removable bollard engineering is a bit more complex, so be prepared for a more involved installation and a potentially higher per-unit cost. And, note that removable bollards, for all their good, are not ideal if superior crash protection is needed. They can offer protection at lower speeds, but they wouldn’t make the grade guarding the perimeter of a sensitive government or military site. In cases where you do need removable safety bollards, this is possible. But be warned: These fixtures are too heavy to be handled manually. You should expect to need machinery to remove or reposition them.

Jump to top.

How much do bollards cost?

You probably guessed by now that the answer is, “it depends.”

And it depends on a lot of factors. But here’s a crude range:

A no-frills plastic bollard with no accompanying crash ratings can be had for less than $200 per unit. You can even find them on your favorite e-retailer website. Of course, you’ll pay workers to install them, and those rates vary based on where you’re located and how complex the installation is.

Decorative cast iron or steel bollards with no added crash protection component will vary in cost depending on how they’re finished and what customizations, if any, are added on. But a crude number might be $600 to $1,000 per unit when accounting for labor.

Protective bollards offering maximum crash resistance are made of sturdier materials and require digging and pouring foundations. Owing to this added complexity, all-in cost for these bollards could approach $4,000 each.

Again, these are crude numbers. It would be misleading on our part to offer detailed cost guidance without knowing a whole lot more about what you have in mind.

If you’re looking for certainty, let’s talk. Contact us here or dial 1-502-554-1178. Like we said earlier, there’s a real person whose job is to answer that phone.

No robots, no automation.

Jump to top.

Safety and decorative bollard maintenance and warranties

Some may believe that bollards are free of any maintenance requirements — just anchor them to the ground and be done with them.

That’s only partially true.

Our first bit of advice to any architect or specifier tasked with choosing which bollards to install is to ask the manufacturer what maintenance requirements might be present for each product type they’re considering.

Not every manufacturer will be 100% open about this, but the good ones will be. BollardsUSA will always discuss this with anyone who asks.

Second, be sure you know the terms of product warranties. This is crucial because, most of the time, bollards will require maintenance if they weren’t properly cared for prior to their installation.

Here are some pre-installation considerations:

Store the bollards properly before installing them. This is especially crucial in a time where lead times and supply chain challenges force customers to order well in advance rather than receiving delivery right when it’s time to install. Storage considerations include:

  • Keeping the bollards out of the elements and preventing exposure to rain, standing water or salt spray
  • Preventing exposure to chemical fumes, acid or anything else corrosive

Minimize risks to products after receiving delivery. If something happens to damage products while they’re under our control (meaning, at any stage from when we made them until we drop them off at your site), we own fixing the problem. After that, it’s on the customer. Take care not to expose bollards to an environment where they will be struck, scratched, abraded or otherwise impacted — including natural disasters.

Always follow the installation instructions a manufacturer sends along with a delivery. If you don’t, you may accidentally cause a problem you won’t know is a problem until after the products are installed. Warranties won’t cover you in that instance and the cost to repair or replace is yours to bear.

Other manufacturers’ warranties will vary, but ours is simple. If damage occurred when the products were under our control, we’ll either repair them, replace them or refund the cost excluding shipping. We guarantee the integrity of materials and workmanship for five years, and that powder coatings won’t crack or change in color for two years from the date of invoice.

If products are damaged:

  • Identify and document which specific products were damaged
  • Verify and document that the products were handled and installed according to manufacturer instructions
  • Be prepared to grant the manufacturer’s representatives access to the installation site to examine the installation and other site conditions

Jump to top.

Comparing bollards manufacturers

Just as there are many and varied applications for bollards, there are a great many bollards manufacturers in the U.S. and around the world.

How do you know which one to choose?

It comes down to understanding your project’s requirements and knowing the landscape of providers.

Of course, we hope you consider BollardsUSA. Here’s why:

Our products are made in America. And that’s good for more than warm-and-fuzzy flag waving. As ongoing supply chain and logistics problems rattle global commerce, you can rely on faster lead times and cheaper shipping. Our bollards are shipped by truck from Kentucky and not tossed on a cargo ship that might not arrive in port for months (or get stuck in the Suez Canal). If you care about getting the job done on schedule, buy domestic.

They are sustainably sourced. Most of the steel products we manufacture are recycled from railroad rails. Reconditioning this raw material rather than making it from scratch reduces environmental impact — and cost, too.

They are customizable. Thanks to the technical expertise of our engineers and foundry operators, we can make basically any bollard, and make it look however you want with custom color matching and logo casting. We blend form and function so you never have to sacrifice looks for performance again.

But depending on your project and circumstances, we might not be the best fit. Read up on the other providers we’ve listed here. Odds are, you’ll find what you’re looking for — even if it doesn’t come from us.

Jump to top.

Now you’re ready to nail it

Specifying the right bollards for your streetscape or hardscape project can be daunting.

We’re here to make that process a bit faster and easier.

For architects and specifiers who are just shopping around or searching for inspiration, view our full products page. From decorative to protective and stainless steel, coated steel and cast iron, there’s a lot there. You’re bound to find something that strikes you.

If you’re already close to knowing what you need, use the filters on that page to find the exact right bollard for your project faster.

From there, get a fast and accurate quote. You’ll love how easy we’ve made it to choose:

  • Your product series and specific bollard
  • The color of your fixtures
  • Installation options
  • Add-ons and customizations like logo caps, chains and eye bolts

…all from that single page.

And maybe you just need to cut through the clutter and talk to someone who knows their stuff.

If you’re the strong silent type, fill out this form. But we’d love an old-fashioned phone call, too. Talk to a real person by dialing 1-502-554-1178.

You’ll love our charming Kentucky accents.

Jump to top.

How much do bollards really cost? Here’s what drives total project price

Author:

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Category: Articles

Tags:

As with any component of a construction project, the true total cost to buy, ship and install bollards is harder to pin down than the flat sticker price of the products themselves.

To get a sharper image of the total project cost, you must also consider where the products are made, how (and how far) they travel to their final destination and how their function informs installation method and installation cost.

Black cast iron bollards with chain in front of gate

Bollard cost starts with sticker price

But it still makes sense to start with the base price of the fixtures, and this can vary widely. Here’s a very general rundown:

A no-frills plastic bollard with no accompanying crash ratings can be had for less than $200 per unit. You can even find them on your favorite e-retailer website. Of course, you’ll pay workers to install them, and those rates vary based on where you’re located and how complex the installation is.

Decorative cast iron or steel bollards with no added crash protection component will vary in cost depending on how they’re finished and what customizations, if any, are added on. But a crude number might be $600 to $1,000 per unit when accounting for labor.

Protective bollards offering maximum crash resistance are made of sturdier materials and require digging and pouring foundations. Owing to this added complexity, all-in cost for these bollards could approach $4,000 each.

(Bollard installation is a major project price driver. We cover it in more detail below, but you can also learn what you need to know about that in this article.)

How much do bollards from BollardsUSA cost?

Similar to the general rundown above, bollards from BollardsUSA vary in cost. Influential factors include:

  • Specified function. Are they purely decorative? Must they be safety-rated? Must they perform both roles at once?
  • Removability. Permanently installed bollards require generally less hardware compared to those that can be removed.
  • Customizability. BollardsUSA offers customizations including logo stamping and a wide variety of colors, each bringing the potential of additional costs into the mix.

Our products typically fall within the $575 to $850 per unit range. Do realize that commodity prices change constantly, and other project specifications (including hardware and installation requirements) also influence total price.

If you’re still in the early stages of project planning, see our in-depth guide to bollard specification. When it’s time to get a quote, we’ve made that process simple and easy.

Powder coated cast iron bike bollards in a row

Bollards shipping costs: consider country of origin

Where bollards are manufactured has always influenced their price. And until relatively recently, buying from a foreign source (China being the most common) was a sure bet to bring bollard cost down.

But two things turned all that on its head.

First, tariffs introduced in 2018 triggered a 25% increase in cost on steel and 10% on aluminum practically overnight.

Second, the COVID-19 pandemic showed the fragility of global supply chains. Lead times got a lot longer, and the cost to ship got a lot higher.

This means it is not automatically cheaper to buy bollards from overseas, pack them onto a container ship and then load them onto a truck once they make it to port.

For just one example, a customer asked us for a quote on 35 standard bollards plus installation hardware. They were curious how our quote stood up against an order of very similar products made overseas.

The overseas shipping price, which factored in the 25% tariff on steel, was close to $7,000. It was another $870 to move the products from the onshore port to the job site. They said this was “insane.”

We agreed. That $7,000 could have easily bought them 10 more bollards and 10 more sets of installation hardware.

The lead time was equally egregious: 14 to 16 weeks for the bollards from overseas, but just four to six weeks from our foundry in Kentucky.

Word to the wise: Plan ahead. Buyers usually want bollards to arrive on the job site at or very near the time they are installed. Factor those dates in as you decide whether to buy from overseas vs. domestic. If bollards arrive late, projects are delayed. If they arrive too early and you have nowhere to properly store them, you risk exposing them to the elements and voiding your warranty.

Though the pandemic-related supply chain challenges have strained practically every sector of the economy, a silver lining is that now it is more cost effective — and definitely more reliable — when you buy domestic.

And while the 2018 tariffs are not universally popular, from our perspective, they accomplished what they intended to. It’s a serendipitous double-whammy that’s made domestic sourcing the better option for buyers and manufacturers.

Stainless steel bollards in a row at derby entrancde

How geography influences domestic shipping costs of bollards

Whether your bollards were made in another country or here in the U.S., another factor to consider is the cost to move them from point to point within the country.

The location of our Kentucky foundry, for example, means shipping costs to locations in the South, the east coast and Midwest all are pretty constant. You can get to almost anywhere in those regions from here in a day’s drive or less, so shipping a bollards order is a few hundred bucks.

But the farther west you go — into the Rockies, say, or beyond — and the price rises to $1,000 or more.

We’ll choose the shipping method that makes the most sense based on the product type and quantity you order.

For example, less-than-truckload (LTL) is our go-to method for smaller orders, or even large orders of lighter products, which weigh around 150 pounds apiece. The cost for LTL shipping is shared among the buyers of all the other stuff also on that truck.

High-quantity orders, or orders of much heavier safety bollards (we’re talking 750 pounds apiece), are shipped on their own trucks.

Regardless of how many products you buy or how heavy they are, we prioritize getting you all the products you need in one go rather than breaking your order apart across separate loads. It’s less costly and — given the persistent shortage of truck drivers — more reliable that way.

Installation and labor

Another factor determining how much bollards cost is the way they are installed.

This article covers the concept in more detail, but here it is in broad strokes:

  • Purely decorative bollards anchored into existing concrete are comparatively simple and cheap to install
  • Security bollards that meet crash rating criteria cost the most to install because they have much more significant structures below grade that require more expertise and manpower to install
  • Any removable bollard will probably be more costly to install than a permanent fixture, as permanent installation is often a simpler process

For decorative bollards mounted in existing concrete, installation is straightforward and no specialty crews are needed. This keeps labor expenses down. On the other hand, safety bollards installed inside newly poured concrete will require installation by specialty concrete contractors. These experts charge an expert’s wage.

Of course, an architect or specifier will never select products based on who will do the installation and how much it costs to pay them. The functional and aesthetic requirements determine the selection, not labor costs. But accounting for labor costs nonetheless is important if you’re trying to understand the ultimate cost of this part of a project.

Got a project in the works? Consult with us

BollardsUSA proudly manufactures every bollard we sell from our foundry in Middlesboro, Kentucky, from striking decorative options to crash-rated safety bollards engineered to protect what’s most important.

And because our products are made in the U.S.A., you get quality workmanship, the best value and a lead time that keeps your project on pace for on-time completion.

We’d love to chat about what you’re planning. Contact us here, or talk to a real person when you dial 1-502-554-1178. 

Success story: Bollards offer crucial pedestrian protection in municipal lane reduction projects

Author:

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Category: Case studies

Tags:

From the middle of the 20th century onward, new development in American cities and towns emphasized ease of use for drivers.

It came at the cost of increased suburban sprawl and a web of arterial roads with high speed limits and a frightening lack of consideration for anyone on foot or riding a bike.

Sadly, In 2021, drivers struck and killed an estimated 7,485 pedestrians, marking the most deaths in a single year in four decades.

If you’re wondering why we’re talking about this, or what this has to do with bollards, keep reading.

Bollards, wooden posts and concrete curbing define a biking and pedestrian lane in downtown Alamosa, Colorado.

Righting past wrongs in the built environment

Communities are slowly undoing the damage, realizing that their citizens thrive when everyone can safely access rights of way instead of just those who drive. Indeed, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2017 Safety for All Users Report, demand among citizens for more integrated road networks that support single-occupant driving, public transit, biking and walking all at once is on the rise.

“One of the issues when you have a one-way street with three lanes is the middle lane becomes a racetrack and drivers have little regard for pedestrians trying to cross the street. It was a bit of a game of Frogger.”

Deacon Aspinwall – City of Alamosa, Colorado

Lane reductions (also called road dieting) show much promise. These projects typically entail restriping roadways to remove at least one lane of vehicle traffic in each direction, ceding dedicated space to people on foot or riding bicycles.

But restriping is not always enough. While America has very strict traffic rules — and, for the most part, American drivers follow them religiously — actual physical barriers sometimes are needed.

As you’ll see in the brief case study below, bollards can play an essential complementary role to any effort to bring traffic speeds down and reduce the likelihood of collisions.

In Alamosa, bollards rewrite the rules of the road

The town of nearly 10,000 people is located in southern Colorado’s San Luis Valley beside the Rio Grande and surrounded by fertile farmland.

But the community felt that things were changing, especially in its historic downtown.

“Hard data from our marketing district showed visibility and economic indicators were going up, according to credit card tracking and where the origin ZIP code is on those credit cards. Our community is on the cusp of a lot of dramatic growth that our area has not seen, but other areas of the Mountain West have,” said Deacon Aspinwall, a planning and development specialist in the community, whose role it is to oversee the implementation of Alamosa’s long-range community plans.

For the community to make the most of the opportunities heading its way, it needed to reconsider the role its built environment played in the lives of those who lived, worked and played in Alamosa.

“I watched this big flatbed, overloaded with wood, stop for a pedestrian. That was very rewarding to watch. Before, nobody would stop.”

Deacon Aspinwall – City of Alamosa, Colorado

Main Street carries two U.S. Highways through the town. In 2006, the state department of transportation accommodated increased traffic volumes through Alamosa’s downtown the same way countless other communities across America have done: Main Street became a one-way thoroughfare carrying traffic westward. A block south, 6th Street carries it eastward. Vehicles travelled swiftly through the corridor.

It worked for heavy vehicle traffic, but not for anyone else who wanted to travel downtown to eat or shop on foot. It wasn’t safe.

“One of the issues when you have a one-way street with three lanes is the middle lane becomes a racetrack and drivers have little regard for pedestrians trying to cross the street,” Deacon said. “Even if you post the speed limit as 25 miles per hour, people will drive as fast as they feel they’re able to. When you have a big, wide racetrack, you’re going to drive pretty fast. It was a bit of a game of Frogger.”

Through a community-led process in 2019, a consensus was developed to envision what a vibrant downtown would look like. Thus spawned Alamosa’s Downtown Plan, and a lane reduction plan took shape: Main Street’s three lanes would become two. Some roadside parking would remain, but it would occupy what had been one of the traffic lanes. The stretches of road once reserved for parking would be repurposed for walkers and bicyclists. In addition, sidewalks would be widened.

With a vision in hand, Deacon’s role was to find a way to make that vision a reality. This is always the hard part, and it’s especially hard when a project has both functional and aesthetic requirements: The solution in Alamosa had to work, and it had to look great.

Three bollards guard access to a biking and pedestrian lane in Alamosa, Colorado.

A mixture of fixtures were specified. For most of the length of the project, concrete curbing would be added to separate driving lanes from the walking and biking lane. And along the length of the curbing, stylish wooden bollards would be installed.

The curbing and wooden bollards together were meant to introduce what Deacon called “visual friction” in the environment.

“If there’s lots of things that you’re seeing out of your periphery as you drive, you’re going to drive slower,” he said.

Capping off the project were 50 decorative safety bollards from BollardsUSA. These were stationed at key intersections to provide more visual friction for drivers while creating a permeable barrier through which pedestrians or bike riders could travel.

BollardsUSA made bollard specification easy

One unique requirement for the Alamosa project was to guarantee that city service vehicles had access to the pedestrian lane if needed.

“We wanted a way to get equipment and materials into that activated space,” Deacon said.

BollardsUSA offers the ideal solution: Removable bollards featuring our patented Twist & Lock design.

“This is super helpful,” Deacon said. “We are able to remove the bollards when we need access, and then close the space off again when we’re done.”

Removable bollard installation requirements are more intensive than for permanent fixtures, but Deacon found that that was a cinch, too.

“Everything that we did had to meet state standards, which are rigorous to say the least. But BollardsUSA had the engineering specs for the mounts already done,” Deacon said. “We included those specs with our submittal package we sent off to the state for approval.”

On projects like these, civil engineers must stamp their approval on designs before the state gives its blessing. Deacon said the documentation BollardsUSA provided was so thorough, their engineer essentially “copy and pasted” them into submitted design documents.

Fast forward to the end of the project: With roadblocks removed and construction crews removing equipment and traffic cones, Deacon stood on a downtown street corner to see what would happen. Within five minutes of the road re-opening, he almost couldn’t believe what he saw.

“It was about 5:30 p.m., so kind of rush-hour type traffic. I watched this big flatbed, overloaded with wood, stop for a pedestrian. I was like, ‘Oh, man.’ That was very rewarding to watch. Before, nobody would stop.”

Alamosa slimmed down, and now they’re primed for growth

Often, city leaders use traffic volume studies as a yardstick to measure economic prospects. If you want growth, you want more traffic, not less. Right?

If there is any resistance to the concept of lane reduction and road dieting, go to Alamosa.

They re-thought what it meant to be strong and vibrant. Like any community, they sought growth. But it was a certain kind of growth — growth that welcomed everyone in town.

All it took was a good plan, the right fixtures and a committed champion. And the rewards they reap today because of it cannot be measured in how many cars pass per hour. Looking for guidance on specifying the right decorative or protective bollards for your next streetscape project? Read this in-depth guide.

How bollards enhance safety: removable and permanent solutions for protecting people and property

Author:

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Category: Articles

Tags:

Bollards can make shared spaces safer for everyone.

But enhancing safety is rarely the only objective of a streetscape or hardscape construction project.

Owners and specifiers must also contend with other requirements that influence their decisions from several directions at once. Consider:

  • Maintaining or creating visual appeal is usually a part of a project’s scope in addition to any safety improvements
  • Differing products have differing installation requirements that owners and specifiers should be aware of in advance if they want to avoid costly design changes or timeline overruns later
  • Knowing when a removable bollard vs. a permanent bollard is ideal requires a bird’s-eye view of all aspects of a project, including its surroundings, intended uses and access requirements

So when you’re playing multi-dimensional chess, it pays to understand the ways bollards act more like queens and not at all like pawns.

Black cast iron removable bollards outside the entry to a venue.

3 ways bollards keep people and property safe

It’s worth having a general understanding of how bollards make the world safer. Whether they are removable or permanent-installed, bollards enhance safety in the following ways:

  • Separating vehicle traffic from people on foot or riding bikes when these various modes come into conflict
  • Protecting stationary property such as storefronts, homes, parked cars or other assets against vehicle impact
  • Generally slowing the flow of vehicle traffic when strategically located along roadways, thus reducing the likelihood and severity of collisions

Crash-rated bollards provide a “hard” protection, meaning that they are designed and manufactured to strict criteria that guarantee protective performance. Some bollard types, including many of the cast iron options we manufacture, happen to be strong enough to offer some crash protection even when they are not specifically rated for it. (However, do not substitute a seemingly strong bollard that lacks crash protection ratings when your project circumstances call for a rated product!)

Bollards lacking crash ratings still offer a form of protection that can be very effective. It’s a concept called “visual friction,” where the mere fact that these fixtures are within a driver’s line of sight induces them to slow down and pay closer attention to their surroundings. Learn more about visual friction in this case study.

For more detail on the material and installation considerations for decorative vs. protective bollards, read this bollard specification guide. Now that you know the ways bollards can keep drivers, pedestrians and property safe, it’s a matter of assessing other project circumstances to determine whether permanent-installed or removable bollards are best.

When are permanent-installed bollards ideal?

  1. Permanent bollards are best for spaces that support only a single use. For example, it’s common to see bollards installed beside bus stops or as part of a pedestrian island within an intersection. In either case, there would be no need to remove these fixtures, so a permanent installation makes more sense. It’s also less costly.
  2. Permanent bollards are ideal if there is sufficient alternative access to a space. And what we mean by that is, it is possible that elements within a space where bollards are installed will require access by service vehicles or equipment. Bollards could block their path, but it’s a moot point if there is a different way to access such an area. If there is, you can save money by choosing permanent fixtures instead of removable ones.
  3. Permanent bollards are ideal when project requirements call for a crash-rated barrier. To tease a more detailed discussion later on in this article, if you need crash-rated bollards, it is almost always better for them to be permanent-installed. Removable crash-rated bollards are very rare, and for good reason. Read this if you’re wondering when protective bollards are required.

When are removable bollards ideal? 

  1. Removable bollards are ideal when a space is multi-functional by design. For example, picture a town square or plaza that includes decorative bollards that provide aesthetic interest and define soft boundaries. Now imagine that same space on a weekend, with rows of food trucks or craft vendors. Removable bollards add value to a space by making it easier for it to support a wider variety of uses. Read more about multi-functionality in this case study.
  2. Removable bollards are ideal for controlling access to a space. The space itself may have just one function, but that function may require the free flow of vehicles or equipment at one time and the restriction of movement at another. A use case here might be the loading zones at sporting venues or large conference centers.
An embedded mount into which removable bollards are locked into place.

Can I install safety bollards that are removable?

It’s not uncommon for an owner or specifier to determine that their project requires the unique combination of removable bollards that meet crash-rating criteria.

Can it be done?

Yes, it can, but be warned:

  1. Even before removability enters the equation, any bollard rated to withstand vehicle impact requires more complex below-grade engineering and the involvement of a specialty concrete contractor.
  2. Protective bollards are heavy-duty fixtures. If it is important that your protective bollards can be removed, you need to know that they are far too heavy for people to lift. Consider the extra lifting and hauling equipment you will need to remove and replace them.

Taken together, the two points above demonstrate the very high cost to buy and install removable safety bollards as well as the high ongoing cost associated with their use. And besides, the last thing anyone wants is to pay the premium and only then decide it is too much effort to remove the removable bollards.

Know the difference between retractable bollards and removable bollards

You’ve seen retractable bollards in any number of action thrillers. Picture the underdog protagonist steering a sports car through a controlled entry just in time; their half-wit pursuers slam into big steel posts that rise up from the pavement just in time.

Removable bollards are not connected to any underground motors. To open up access to a space, you pop them out manually. 

As a cast iron foundry, we specialize in manufacturing cast iron and steel removable and permanent bollards. Retractable bollards require added engineering and electronics expertise that falls well outside our wheelhouse. However, BollardsUSA provides patented Twist & Lock removable bollard mounts that make it much easier to remove and replace removable bollards without buying additional complex hardware or specialty tools.

The compelling case for permanent AND removable bollards together

Given what we just said about why removable safety bollards are almost never ideal, owners or specifiers might feel painted into a corner as they consider the fixtures necessary for very unique spaces or circumstances.

They would find as they research bollard manufacturers that only a precious few of us offer the degree of aesthetic and functional flexibility they crave.

BollardsUSA is unique in the market in that our removable and permanent-installed products can be designed to look identical. It’s a perfect compromise for projects where:

  • Some, but not all, bollards must meet crash protection ratings
  • Some, but not all, bollards must be removable to control access or support multiple uses
  • All bollards must maintain the same (or at least a similar) aesthetic look and feel regardless of their function

Wouldn’t it be great to never again sacrifice visual appeal for functionality?

Let’s partner up

BollardsUSA offers superior aesthetic and functional fixtures made of mostly recycled materials from our foundry in Kentucky.

Find the products you need, download specs quickly, and lean on our staff for any guidance you need along the way. We’re here to make this easy on you.

Request a quote here, or dial 1-502-554-1178. A real person answers that phone — how refreshing.

Breaking down bollard requirements by use and regulatory body

Author:

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Category: Articles

Tags:

A frequent point of confusion in streetscape construction project planning is parsing out whether bollards are necessary or required.

Owners and specifiers of such projects are likely familiar with the visual and decorative role bollards can play, and they probably also know there are instances when certain kinds of bollards are mandatory and not optional.

But any search for certainty on the subject will reveal that straight answers are still hard to come by. The myriad standards or mandates that end up influencing bollard specification exert that influence indirectly.

Read more to learn about:

  • Industry standards’ and government regulations’ use of the term “barrier” vs. “bollard”
  • How the adoption by government institutions of certain industry standards create barrier requirements which are de facto if not explicitly de jure
  • What applicable ASTM testing methods mean for bollard installation and bollard spacing requirements
  • The ways that public accessibility legislation can drive bollard placement requirements

Use this article to get a better idea of the regulatory patchwork you’re grappling with. To see how this subject fits into bollard specification more broadly, read our in-depth guide here.

Cast iron bollards outside the entry of a mixed-use commercial and residential building.

Are bollards required by code?

A short answer is no, not normally.

Municipal building or traffic safety codes tend to be vague in this regard. Often using the term “barrier,” the codes only reference bollards when they list examples of barrier types. Fences, walls or portable fixtures like jersey barriers also are examples of what constitutes a barrier.

Depending on the nature of a construction project, an applicable building code may mandate the installation of barriers for the purpose of pedestrian safety or protection of assets.

This is where crash-rated bollards come in. A crash rating means a bollard design has been tested to withstand certain vehicle impact conditions. This is described more fully below.

But it isn’t only local authorities (and therefore, local codes of ordinance) that require crash-rated fixtures on certain projects. States and the federal government sometimes require crash ratings for bollards installed as part of streetscape projects as a condition of their award of grants to help cover construction costs. Our advice: Try to pin down as soon as possible whether municipal statutes are in play. A lack of certainty on this point can potentially lead to an incorrect specification. At best, you’ll need to resubmit designs and specs. At worst, you take delivery of products you paid for but cannot use.

How crash ratings determine bollard dimensions and spacing requirements

ASTM F3016 and F2656 define the testing methods that derive crash ratings.

We summarize these in broad strokes below, but if your project requires fixtures that meet crash ratings, you should always consult the full text of the standards.

ASTM F3016 assesses how well a fixture withstands the impact from a 5,000-pound vehicle traveling at low- to medium-speeds (from 10 to 30 miles per hour).

The term to know is “penetration ratings.” A P1 rating means bollards do not allow a vehicle to pass more than one foot past the boundary they create. A P2 rating denotes penetration of four feet or less. Specific project requirements should dictate which penetration rating is needed.

Stainless steel safety bollards on school grounds.

ASTM F2656 covers more intense impacts from vehicles up to 15,000 pounds traveling from 30 to 50 miles per hour. A more complex standard, F2656 also contains penetration ratings, but the ratings are described in two categories.

ASTM originally developed the “M”-ratings to cover bigger vehicles at higher speeds. The F2656 standard also features “K”-ratings, which refer to testing criteria initially developed by the U.S. Department of Defense for barriers that protect sensitive government sites.

Penetration distance under the “M” and “K” ratings are very similar; ASTM assumed the publication and maintenance of “K” ratings once the U.S. Department of Defense stopped doing this on its own.

The ASTM standards note that bollards should be spaced such that there are no more than 48 inches between the inside edges of neighboring bollards. No standard suggests the best height for a bollard. BollardsUSA manufactures safety bollards from 31.5 inches to 48 inches tall. It is worth noting that crash-rated bollards require more intensive installation involving pouring concrete below ground. This makes them a more costly option. Owners and specifiers should understand whether they really need crash-rated bollards, or if “protection” can be achieved simply by creating a visual barrier. If it’s the latter, you can save money because decorative fixtures are easier and cheaper to install.

Other ways the law impacts bollard selection and installation

Crash ratings are not the only way that local, state and federal statutes have a hand in determining how bollards fit into a construction project.

Here’s a quick summary:

Any government institution that has imposed upon itself a mandate to build to International Building Code standards must install barriers that meet IBC requirements in any location the code specifies.  Remember that “barriers” in this case — and in every case listed below — includes bollards.

The same is true for any public institution that has bound itself to meeting National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes. NFPA requires barriers to protect outdoor storage containers of flammable or explosive material, as well as above-ground pipelines or other similar infrastructure.

Any environment subject to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules must have safety bollards installed according to provisions in the OSHA act. You’ll find these in parking lots or beside loading docks, for example.

The Americans with Disabilities Act protects accessibility to any building or space owned by any government entity, as well as private commercial and non-profit organization properties employing 15 or more people. ADA rules pertaining to bollards or other barriers state that these cannot be placed in a way that would obstruct access along designated pathways.

A little-known precursor to the ADA, the Architectural Barriers Act, also prohibits the placement of barriers in a way that restricts accessibility. This 1968 law covers federal sites as well as any other private or non-profit entity that received federal funding for construction projects.

As you can see in the latter two examples, owners and specifiers must also know where they can and cannot place bollards or any barrier irrespective of whether a project requires them.

Once you know what you need, tell us and we’ll build them

In addition to providing products that meet your project’s functional criteria, the BollardsUSA foundry team offers more product customizations so you can be sure that the fixtures you install look as great as they perform.

Request a quote here, or contact us if you want to talk in more depth about your project.

And we love an old-fashioned phone call, too. A real person answers when you dial 1-502-554-1178.