Bollards vs. Barriers: What’s the Difference?

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Bollards and barriers are essential components of modern urban planning and security infrastructure in the UK. As diverse as they are versatile, these protective installations all help to prevent the passage of unauthorised vehicles.

Security bollards, including concrete and steel bollards, are sometimes grouped within the category of barriers. However, they provide a different function to other types of vehicle barrier, such as automatic rising arm barriers.

In this guide, we will discuss the differences between vehicle barriers and bollards. We’ll explore their key design features, varieties and when they may be used.

Bollards: Definition, Types and Uses

Bollards are short vertical posts designed to control vehicle access, protect pedestrians and enhance safety in various settings. They can be made from a variety of materials, including polyurethane, concrete and steel.

Types of Bollards

There are many different types of bollards, each serving a different purpose:

  • Fixed bollards, such as concrete bollards, act as a roadblock to permanently prevent the passage of vehicles.
  • Removable bollards allow for temporary access control, with the ability to be easily relocated and reinstalled as needed.
  • Semi-automatic or manual telescopic bollards can be retracted into the ground when not in use, providing unobstructed access. They require manual operation to raise or lower.
  • Automatic bollards are operated by remote control or access control systems, allowing authorised vehicles to pass through whenever required.

Some bollards are crash-rated, meaning they can withstand high-impact collisions without deformation. Others serve mainly as a visual deterrent for general traffic control.

Common Uses of Bollards

Bollards have many potential applications, with different types catering to specific needs. For example, they are widely used in pedestrian zones to protect walkers from vehicle encroachment.

In residential and commercial areas, bollards play an essential role in traffic calming, helping to manage traffic flow and enforce speed limits. Private driveway bollards provide access control, preventing unauthorised vehicle entry.

Hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM) bollards provide defence against vehicular attacks and terrorism. They offer perimeter protection for high-security buildings, airports, events venues and other sensitive areas.

Barriers: Definition, Types, and Uses

Barriers are physical obstructions used to control vehicle movement and restrict unauthorised access. They come in a variety of designs and materials, from temporary plastic barriers to automatic parking gates.

Types of Vehicle Barriers

Vehicle barriers can be split into two main categories: passive and active. Active barriers have a moving element which allows traffic to pass through when required. Common types of barriers include:

  • Temporary barriers, which are portable and easy to install or remove. They may be made from various materials, including polyurethane and metal.
  • Permanent barriers: robust, long-lasting installations such as steel guardrails.
  • Height restriction barriers: these limit access to specific areas by imposing a maximum height for vehicles.
  • Automatic vehicle barriers, such as wedge barriers and rising arm barriers, use electronic controls to grant temporary access.

Active barriers typically act as entry gates, while passive barriers are often linked together to provide all-round protection.

Common Uses of Vehicle Barriers

Vehicle barrier systems serve multiple purposes across a range of settings. They are instrumental in traffic management, restricting access to specific areas and managing congestion.

Parking barriers can be used to control entry and exit points, maintaining security and managing vehicle flow in car parks. Removable barriers can also be used to temporarily block specific parking spaces.

Hostile vehicle mitigation barriers are crash-rated, providing protection in various settings. They enhance the security of commercial properties, government facilities and other high-risk sites.

Differences Between Bollards and Barriers

Both bollards and barriers are used for access control, security and protection. Technically, bollards are a type of vehicle barrier. That being said, there are some differences between the two.

Firstly, bollards are spaced apart to prevent large vehicles (such as cars and vans) from entering the area. Other types of barriers, however, can restrict access to cyclists and pedestrians as well as motorised vehicles.

Secondly, bollards are available in various designs and materials, including decorative finishes that enhance architectural aesthetics. In contrast, barriers are more utilitarian in appearance, prioritising functionality over form.

Bollards are commonplace in public and commercial spaces, whereas barrier systems are typically seen in car parks and industrial premises.

Choosing the Right Solution: Bollards or Barriers?

It’s not always easy to determine the right vehicle security barrier for a given application. You’ll need to carefully consider the location, the layout of the site and level of control and protection required.

For tailored advice and recommendations, speak to an expert at Macs Bollards. We supply a wide range of vehicle security barriers, including fixed, removable and automatic bollards and automatic rising arm barrier systems.

We will work with you to determine the most suitable vehicle barrier to suit your needs and budget. We pride ourselves on providing reliable, cost-effective solutions with fast turnaround times.

Contact Macs Bollards today to find out more. Fill in our enquiry form, email or call us on 0161 320 6463.

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