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A load of bollards

14 August 2014/Categories: PTRC News

With the parliamentary recess and summer holiday season in full swing; August usually sees the news dominated by silly season stories and an over abundance of “creature- features”. Giant spiders descend on Glasgow, anyone? (

Whilst there is still the usual stream of silliness in the mainstream press this year, “proper” news dominates the front pages at the moment, with frequent and depressing updates on the situation in the Middle East. Most of the news includes reports that extremist terror groups, such as ISIS, are attracting European jihadists to fight in Syria and Iraq, who will eventually return home, battle hardened, with combat experience and extremist views on UK and American interests. Little surprise that the UK Threat Level for international terrorism remains at “substantial”.

Transport infrastructure and other crowded places have historically been prime targets for terrorist attacks. One of the key challenges for designers is how to incorporate counter-terrorism protective security measures into the urban realm whilst also applying urban design principles to maintain an accessible and attractive environment which people want to use. Sometimes the solutions work really well, with the creation of attractive, pedestrianised places, where counter-terrorism measures blend seamlessly into the surroundings. At other times the solutions can be less visually appealing, such as the ring of incongruous shiny bollards surrounding a listed building.

Studies have been carried out at busy transport interchanges to determine how bollards affect pedestrian movement and whether they result in additional health and safety concerns. With guidance (

issued last year on the design principles that should be adopted when installing bollards in these locations, there’s no reason why they should  become an obstacle to the achieving the “ease of movement” design principle. However, their contribution to the “attractive” principle is a very different matter. With the old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is the visual appeal (or lack thereof) of a bollard simply a question of personal taste? John Kennedy, the Bollards of London blogger, might just persuade you to love a bollard for its looks, not just for keeping you safe!

Emma Cockburn

Head of Technical Development


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