The rise of the anti-terrorism urban planner

Terrorists are increasingly relying on tactics like car-ramming to kill or harm large groups of people. And, following a succession of horrific – and in some cases fatal – vehicle-based terror attacks, anti-terrorism urban architecture is on the rise. But rather than merely erecting concrete barricades, urban planners face a more significant challenge; how can security measures such as Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) bollards be implemented while maintaining/creating a pleasant urban environment?

Urban planners are considering how to stop terrorism

In truth, many cities across the UK and beyond have been criticised for a knee-jerk response to threats. And, as the number of vehicle attacks has increased, so too has the use of terrorism prevention barriers. Especially around important public spaces, landmarks and tourist sites[1].

“Parts of central London already look cowed and afraid, as ugly barriers go up around tourist sites.”

Simon Jenkins, The Guardian Newspaper

Of course, keeping people and places secure is critical, and those responsible for our public spaces must do what they can to prevent the use of vehicles as weapons of terror. But this doesn’t have to mean sticking up unsuitable barriers. Indeed, a reactive and inexperienced response to urban design can create an environment of fear. To combat this, anti-terror infrastructure must be used discreetly.

Striking the right balance

Today’s urban planners must ensure that modern protection methods – including bollards and barriers – are integral to our built-environment – not stuck on as an afterthought. Only by integrating security measures into wider design can we ensure that our town and city centres look and feel safe. This includes hiding HVM bollards in plain sight.

And this is possible. Following a horrific attack that killed eight people in New York, the city initially responded by installing concrete blocks around the cycle path where the attack took place to stop the same thing happening again. But, since then, a more subtle approach has been used. Stylish silver bollards replaced the concrete barriers to create safe spaces in which nobody feels intimidated. Indeed, when HVM bollards and barriers are used sympathetically, they are often not noticed at all.

Some urban designers are even going so far as to create stylish street furniture that doubles as anti-crash barriers. For example, as part of NYCxDesign 2019 (a citywide celebration which attracts designers from across the globe), New York designer Joe Doucet created a concrete bench as a “discreet” alternative to traditional, and more brutalist barriers.

As a more affordable option, some NYC bollards/barriers have been painted with decorations or installed with plastic coverings to make them more attractive, while others have been used as planters for trees and flowers (to various degrees of success).

Retractable HVM bollards

One way that urban planners can successfully strike the right balance when it comes to aesthetics and safety is to use concealed bollards/barricades. These can be erected in a crisis or in anticipation of a potential attack (such as large public events).

Crash tested telescopic security bollards are extremely strong and have been designed to bear up against the force of a vehicle. Indeed, telescopic bollards are one of the most reliable solutions in our HVM bollard range, having been tested to withstand the force of 7.5-tonne impact. As such, they can prevent terrorists from carrying out vehicle attacks. Crucially, because they retract when not in use, public spaces can return to normal when the threat dissipates.

HVM bollards from Macs

Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) bollards are helping to protect towns and cities across the UK from terrorist attacks. But to effectively safeguard the public, property, and private land from extreme threats, you need crash-tested PAS 68 and IWA 14 bollards.

  • PAS 68 bollards. BSI PAS 68 is the recognised industry standard for HVM barrier and bollard security products in the UK. PAS 68 bollards are commonly used to protect high profile sites and secure locations, such as stadiums and arenas, airports, town centres, embassies, government premises, nuclear facilities and pedestrian-only zones.
  • IWA 14 bollards. Designed as ‘the world’s impact test standard’, while there are some differences between the two standards, like PAS 68, an IWA 14 rating means that a security bollard has been tested against a range of criteria (including by physically crashing a vehicle into the bollard).

At Macs, our PAS 68 and IWA-14 crash rated bollards meet the latest HVM standards.

 Every bollard is tested rigorously before leaving our warehouse to ensure optimal operation. Furthermore, our expert advisors will thoroughly discuss and assess your specific needs and offer support and advice on the right products for you. For example, if you want to create a safe but aesthetically pleasing public space, our RAL colour matched bollards blend seamlessly into their surrounding environment.

When it comes to security, Macs Automated Bollard Systems understands how important protecting your world is – so let’s protect it together. For a free quote on our HVM bollards, or to ask us a question, call our service team on 0161 320 6462 or email us by completing our contact form.


[1] 2017 EU Terrorism Situation & Trends Report

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