What Are Bollards? (Definition)

A bollard is a short vertical post, typically made of metal, wood, or concrete, that is used to create a barrier or obstruct pedestrians or vehicles. The word “bollard” comes from the Middle English word “bollarde,” which was derived from the Old French word “boulard,” which means “post.”

Keep Reading To Learn All About Bollards

Bollards are commonly used in urban areas to create pedestrian zones, to guide traffic, or to protect buildings and other structures from vehicular damage. In some cases, bollards are also used to control or restrict access to an area.


If you’re wondering what a bollard is and how it can be used, read on for a comprehensive guide about these wonderful works of construction art!

 Bollard Definition:

  • a post of metal or wood on a wharf around which to fasten mooring lines
  • chiefly British : any of a series of short posts set at intervals to delimit an area (such as a traffic island) or to exclude vehicles (via the English dictionary)
bollard definition

What is a Bollard? Here is Bollard History and Their Origins

What are bollards? A bollard is a sturdy, short, solid vertical post that helps control traffic and prevents vehicles from crashing into buildings. With our experience, these posts can be in many different colors and/or sizes.

I like classic orange bollard posts, but there are so many ways they can be used.

Although it was first described as a post or mooring bollard on a ship or quay used principally for mooring watercraft, the word is now used—primarily in British English—to describe heavy-duty posts installed in the ground to control road traffic & posts designed to prevent ram raiding and car ramming attacks.

Traffic Barrier Protection

Now, they are mostly used in front of businesses like restaurants and Wal-Marts in order to keep idiots, drunk people, and old people from accidentally slamming into buildings with their cars and harming or killing customers.

I see businesses all of the time that would benefit from getting bollards installed in front of their building in order to prevent future stupid accidents like the picture here:

bollard crash

I think that if bollards were installed in front of that retail space, then the car would not have crashed into the building.

Old Cannons as Bollards

From the 17th and 18th centuries, old cannons were often used as bollards on quaysides to help moor ships alongside.

bollards name

Cannon Bollards

The cannons were buried in the ground muzzle-first to approximately half or two-thirds of their length, leaving the rear end projecting above ground for attaching ropes.

cannon bollards

These cannons can still occasionally be found. Bollards from the 19th century were purpose-made, but often inherited a very similar “cannon” shape.

British English Early Traffic Bollards

Some of the earliest bollards were made from timber and wood; however as transportation changed from horses to motorized vehicles, it became clear that cast iron was a more suitable material.

Cast iron has a very high corrosion resistance and longevity, with excellent levels of durability.

I love these types of classic bollards, but cast iron can become expensive.

Wooden Barriers

Wooden post bollards were used for basic traffic management from at least the beginning of the 18th century.

One of the first well-known cases is that of the “two oak-posts” set up next to the medieval Eleanor cross at Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, in 1721—at the expense of the Society of Antiquaries of London—”to secure Waltham Cross from injury by Carriages”.

Similar bollards can be seen in many old, historic paintings and engravings.

Bollard Symbols

In the Netherlands, the Amsterdammertjes of Amsterdam were first erected in the 19th century. They became popular symbols of the city, but they are now gradually being removed and replaced with elevated sidewalks.

Modern-Day Bollards

Many people go about our daily lives without even realizing the role that bollards play in protecting us. It only takes a second for an evil vehicle to steer off a road and enter a pedestrian area…with potentially deadly results.

britain bollards definition

We do take notice when disaster is diverted by that short, heavy-duty post we’ve walked by a million times without a second thought.

Where Are Posts Usually Placed?

Bollards are often placed in areas like the corners of buildings, in front of building entrances, next to public phones, and beside mailboxes to protect against accidental vehicle impact.

When situated along roadways, they can prevent vehicles that overrun sidewalks from harming pedestrians. Bollards designed for safety reasons may be designed to fold, deflect impact, or break apart.

Determining the proper type of bollard suited to a location can be done by carrying out a comprehensive safety assessment.

What Other Types of Bollards Are There?

Some bollards are intended purely to be an ornament. As standalone architectural or landscaping features, they can border, divide, or define a space.

They can also be accents, sentries, or supporting players to larger, more dramatic architectural gesture.

Decorative bollards are manufactured to mix with both traditional & contemporary architectural styles.

The latter lean toward visual simplicity – often straight-sided posts with one or more reveals near the top.

Historic Bollard Periods

Styles made to match various historic periods usually have more elaborate shapes and surface details. These include flutes, bands, scrolls and other ornamentation.

The post-top is a distinctive feature; traditional bollard design often includes elaborate decorative finials, whereas contemporary versions frequently feature a simple rounded or slanted top to deter people from using them as a trash can or using them for impromptu seating.

traffic barriers

On the other hand, they are sometimes made flat and broad specifically to encourage seating. Common decorative bollard materials include iron, aluminum, stainless steel, & concrete.

What Are Other Bollard Designs?

Ornamental designs with elaborate detail are frequently made of iron or aluminum casting.

Aluminum bollards are desirable for applications where weight is an issue, such as a removable bollard. Aluminum units tend to be slightly more expensive than iron.

For applications where a decorative bollard may be subject to destructive impact, ductile iron is a safer choice than more brittle metals, as force will deform the metal rather than shatter and transforming it into possible hazardous flying projectiles.

Bollard Definition and Purpose of Bollards

We hope this is enough information in order to understand the definition of what bollards are. They are majestic pieces of history that go ignored by the general public.

But we here at Bollards in Movies truly understand the significance of these magical traffic barrier posts.

What Are the Different Types of Bollards?

  • Removable
  • Surface mounted
  • Fixed bollards
  • Parking
  • Access control impact energy bollards
  • Retractable bollards
  • Steel posts
  • Pipe
  • Rebounding bollards
  • Wooden
  • Collapsible bollards
  • Concrete
  • Embedded bollards
  • Plastic
  • Flexible bollards
  • Decorative
  • Steel pipe styles
  • Hydraulic
  • Car park UK barriers

Architectural Design

Whether you are in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, or are American English speakers in Washington DC, bicycle lanes and parking lots have at least one safety bollard preventing damage to vehicles and bikers and pedestrians.

Word of the Day for Bollards

Traffic control security bollards — AKA street furniture in an upright position — should always be your word of the day.

Not to be confused with traffic signs or synonyms and related words like traffic cone, parking bollards should be at the beginning of everyone’s word origins.

Bollards for Security Purposes

Bollards are most commonly used for site security. As people are driving, they may lose control of their vehicles and ultimately crash into a building or property site. While some car crashes are accidental, others are done with malicious intentions.

Ram Raiding Bollards

Ram raiders are evil assholes that intentionally crash into a storefront or other building containing valuable items with the intention of stealing.

How to Prevent Accidents with Bollards

To prevent both accidents and ram raiding activity, many businesses install bollards to define the perimeter of their buildings.

That way, if someone does inadvertently or intentionally drive a vehicle into a building, the high-strength steel bollard will thwart his or her attempts.

What is a Bollard?

Hopefully by now with all this awesome information, you will be able to explain to all your friends and family what a bollard is. Now please share this article.

What is a Bollard Cover?

Bollard covers are a great way to improve your facility’s perimeter, while at the same time reducing maintenance costs. This great alternative to painting will save you the time, expense and mess of paint.

What is a Safety Bollard?

A steel pipe safety bollard can be used both indoors & outdoors to protect work areas, racking, and personnel. Molded plastic caps are removable.

First Known Use in English

1844 (Victorian era) (175+ years ago)

Translations

Spanish: | bolardo (nautical)
Portuguese: | abita (nautical)
French: | bitte (nautical)
German: | Poller (nautical)
Italian: | bitta (nautical)

Surnames

Bollard (US population: 450 people, white: 93%)

Hyphenation

bol-lard (7 letters | 2 syllables)

Broader Term

post

Synonyms

bitthead, wharf, wharfage, riding bitt, dock post, bitt, pier

We hope this helped you understand the big question: what is a bollard?

Summary about Bollards

Bollards are short, thick posts that are usually made of metal or concrete. They are often used to create barriers or to mark the boundaries of an area. Bollards can be found in all sorts of places, from parking lots to parks to sidewalks.

Bollards are usually quite strong, so they can be used to create a barrier that will block vehicles from driving into an area.

They are also often used to create a safe space for pedestrians by separating them from traffic. Bollards can be placed close together or far apart, depending on the needs of the area.

So, next time you see a bollard, you’ll know that it’s there to create a barrier or to mark the boundary of an area. And now you can tell all your friends what a bollard is!

63 Comments

  1. Jake JJ

    One time I was watching the news about storefront crashes and it was funny when the new anchors pronounced them as BAH-llards. LOL!!!

    Reply
  2. stacey

    i lock my bike up on a decorative bolard every day when i go to work. the bolard is outside the front door and a lot of people see it.

    Reply
  3. Karen

    My brother always called these things “traffic barriers”. I had no idea they were called “bollards”. What a crazy strange world!

    Reply
  4. Laurie C.

    my neighbor had a weird obsession with these posts. in his backyard, there was a huge hole filled with bollards and pillows and his dog used to run around them in circles for hours. maybe the posts were mostly to keep his dog entertained while he binge-watched episodes of Murder, She Wrote starring the lovely Angela Lansbury.

    Reply
  5. Kendall

    Bollards are awesome. I am glad you put this great information about bollards all in one place.

    Reply
  6. Judah

    I am wondering if I could use removable bollard barriers to protect my garage door from the neighbor kid constantly ramming his tricycle into my garage door. What revenge that would be. He just turned 3 years old, but he’s been a pain in my ass since he was born, constantly making small dents in my garage doors.

    Reply
  7. Adrian

    It’s crazy how common it is to notice bollards once you learn about them. I always notice them outside government buildings and stuff.

    Reply
  8. Corey Dogg

    The power of bollards and what they can do is amazing. They protect people, places, and things. What they do is protect a lot of nouns.

    Reply
  9. Ripper the Jack

    I had no idea there was so much history about these things. Very interesting read. The perimeter of my university is surrounded by bollards to keep crazy people from ram-raiding the buildings.

    Reply
  10. Quinn

    I was watching an episode of The Wonder Years and I saw a traffic post in the background so I was wondering what the posts were actually called. I’m glad I came across this definition of bollards.

    Reply
  11. Doug

    What kind of regulations are there for bollards? Do they have to withstand a certain weight vs. speed in accidents?

    Reply
  12. Nick (Post author)

    Thank you for reading about the history of bollards.

    Reply
  13. Jane

    I’ve seen a lot of crazy videos on youtube where trucks and huge vehicles get totally destroyed by bollards. You should watch them, they are crazy!

    Reply
  14. Nick (Post author)

    Thank you for all of the comments. I love hearing how other people have experienced bollards.

    Reply
  15. STEVE

    I want to get bollards installed around the neighborhood playground with all these crazy people out there nowadays. Need to protect.

    Reply
  16. echo

    From the 17th and 18th centuries, old cannon were often used as bollards on quaysides to help moor ships alongside. The cannon would be buried in the ground muzzle-first to approximately half or two-thirds of their length, leaving the breech (rear end) projecting above ground for attaching ropes. Such cannon can still occasionally be found. Bollards from the 19th century were purpose-made, but often inherited a very similar “cannon” shape.

    Reply
  17. Katherine

    Did you know: A bollard is a short post that guides traffic, deters vehicle intrusions, and protects people and structures. Bollards act as visual guides, reminding drivers to drive safely and responsibly in certain areas. When installed for security, bollards also block vehicle impacts. Many bollards also have decorative elements that complement building and landscape designs.

    Reply
  18. Julian

    Have you heard about…

    Perimeter security is a concern for many cities, businesses, and government facilities. Protecting people from vehicle collisions with pedestrians, non-motorized vehicles and buildings has become a growing focus in recent years, especially given the rise of vehicle-building collisions. It is estimated that over 60 collisions between vehicles and buildings occur each day, causing over 500 deaths each year in the United States alone. This is an extremely concerning statistic for businesses and government facilities, as such accidents endanger their employees, buildings, operations and security efforts.

    I think that’s great information. Now I am going to go shopping.

    Reply
  19. Glenn Frey

    Traffic post winter is coming. Brace yourself. Hopefully you won’t crash too hard.

    Reply
  20. Barry

    I saw all kinds if these barrier things at the zoo back in 2014. I spoke with a manager for about 3 hours about them. I guess they put them around the perimeter of the rhino cage because the rhinos enjoy backing up and running full speed into them.

    Reply
  21. Rob Mickems

    I prefer traffic cones myself. Their rounded pyramid appearance is far more aesthetically pleasing than the cylinder. Sometimes when driving by a traffic cone I’ll stare in wonderment at its marvelous structure, until I almost wind up hitting the car or pedestrian in front of me. Not so with the traffic post.

    Reply
  22. Pork

    I’ve seen the design of these posts look like a cannon, it was collapsible, and I could only define it as a London beauty. All the different types can rebound the ornamental, aluminum London materials when making these posts. What a great definition of architectural mailboxes. Great job!

    Reply
  23. HUGO

    One day back in 2010 I was walking around wondering, “What is a bollard?” Then out of nowhere, a bollard traffic post appeared and challenged me to an arm wrestling match. The barrier was so strong it snapped my arm off and I am now typing with my nose.

    Reply
  24. McConnell

    I think I ate too many cheese curds.

    Reply
  25. Mike Mike

    Whenever I eat tacos, I always think that safety needs to come first. Bollard posts can create the perfect perimeter around yourself to prevent bad people from entering your space and stealing your tacos.

    Reply
  26. Corky

    Was there ever a sex scene in Star Wars? That would be funny if Princess Leia hit Jabba the Hutt with a traffic barrier.

    Reply
  27. Carl Carl

    Did you know the song Who Let the Dogs Out by the Baha Men was inspired by an incident involving bollards?

    Reply
  28. Stephen Curry

    There was one night I was out wandering around my neighborhood when I saw a man drinking beer with a bollard. He would pour a beer over the top of the traffic barrier post, then he would shotgun a beer. After that, he smoked a cigarette and fully recited The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe. Then the acid I took wore of and I realized that man was a vision of myself 10 years ago and none of it actually happened.

    Reply
  29. Naked Tesla

    Are bollards nude if they don’t have a sleeve and have they ever been featured in porn before?

    Reply
  30. JAMESSS

    I fucking love bollards!!!!

    Reply
  31. Brunda Duckson

    This one guy I knew in college ate ghost peppers. But he would smash them into a sauce using a university bollard and a huge bowl. Then he would drink a half gallon of milk after putting the sauce in chili and eating it. And then he would run a 5k marathon the next day. Crazy guy.

    Reply
  32. Jim Jugglers

    I started dating this woman a few months ago and she asked me to meet her parents when things started getting a bit serious. So, I went to her house to have dinner with the folks. Imagine my surprise when I walked to the kitchen table and there sat in a chair, beside my gf’s father, a yellow removable traffic bollard. I asked my girlfriend why there was a bollard sitting in her mom’s place and where her mother actually was, but she just pointed at the traffic post and said, “That’s her. You just insulted her, by the way.”

    Confused, I sat down and we all began talking, apart from the bollard mother. Sometimes my gf and her dad would bust out laughing at something she said, but they wouldn’t say what she said. I assumed she was making fun of me. Somehow this limbless bollard managed to cook a meal, too, even if her husband had to serve it. It was casserole. I never thought I would say this, but bollards make excellent casseroles.

    A week after that the bollard mom died in a car accident (ironic, I know) and we had a funeral for her, complete with a bollard-shaped and -sized casket. The whole thing was strange, but she seemed nice, I guess. Considering I never heard her talk or knew what she said, I can’t really say much else about her other than that she was, well, a traffic post.

    Reply
  33. Jon

    Ever just feel like whacking ppl in the head with a bolard? i do all the time. just whack whack whack away. hammer time? more lik bolard time.

    Reply
  34. Bollard Def

    After a long strange night of eating Triscuits and checking the evil clown name generator, I saw a group of Asian dog fuckers trying to buy crash resistant bollards.

    Reply
  35. Pauly

    How many traffic barrier posts would it take to secure an Olive Garden pasta dish from Hot Wheels cars? I would estimate at least 4 posts?

    Reply
  36. Curtis

    I once heard that Snoop Dogg bought residential bollards to put around his home back in 2004.

    Reply
  37. Charming

    I was surrounding the perimeter of a tree house one day with some solid steel bollards and my neighbor asked what I was doing. I told him to mind his own business and then I ate 6 bowls of chili.

    Reply
  38. reddit guy

    Bollards are fucking awesome! I came here from reddit.

    Reply
  39. Fridge

    Instead of rolling a wheel of cheese down the hill at Cooper’s Hill Cheese Roll competition in Brockworth, England, they should roll down the hill chasing a bollard.

    Reply
  40. Taylor Bishop

    I wanted to thank you for helping me learn more about bollards. I didn’t know that some common materials for bollards would be stainless steel and concrete. I’m interested to learn if bollards are made differently based on what material will be used.

    Reply
  41. Jeffory

    Bollards make me angry. They just piss me right off. I don’t know what it is about them, but whenever I see one I want to beat the shit out of it. Just grab it by its yellow throat and knock its lights out, even if it doesn’t have actual lights.

    One time I was out driving and a bollard in front of a Jewel Osco stared right at me like it was egging me on, so I rammed into that little jagoff. It put up a fight and didn’t go down immediately, but I kept ramming into it with my Trailblazer until it was lying in defeat, with enough dents to render it useless for the rest of its stupid existence. I totaled my SUV in the process, but it was worth it to see one of those plagues on society finally get what was coming to them. I never felt happier. Not even the birth of my first child matched the elation I felt seeing that crippled concrete stick flat on its back.

    I’ve managed to control myself since, but I still fantasize about taking all of those fuckers down whenever I pass one. We need to commit genocide against those things, honestly.

    Reply
  42. Max Factor

    In my old neighborhood there were a lot of government buildings that had a lot of bollards. One time after a serious surgery to fix his broken leg where the bone pushed through his ear, my dog went to piss on a bollard post but the fat governor of the town took out a can of Chef Boyardee ravioli and screamed “I want to kill all of you fucking maggot bollards and eat 30 gallons of mayo”. I am Wisconsin.

    Reply
  43. Money Guy

    I am exhausted. I have been looking at pictures of ram-raiding preventative bollards for 32 hours straight. What day is it?

    Reply
  44. Eating Bollard Dude

    Back when I was in college I worked with a guy at Jimmy John’s who was cousins with the owner of the Miami Dolphins and he told me that he used to shave off pieces of traffic posts and put them in customer sandwiches. I wonder how many people have actually eaten parts of a bollard. He worked there for 3 years.

    Reply
  45. Ahhhhhh

    What? Who? Where am I? How did this happen?

    Reply
  46. Tarley

    I saved up my money for 4 months to buy my girlfriend an orange bollard for her birthday. I thought it would be funny to see her face as she opened the present. Turns out, she thought it was a massive dildo and broke up with me instantly.

    Reply
  47. Sherm

    I have always wondered if a world could ever exist where a group of cheetahs could gather together to start making bollards in a factory. Like, good bollards.

    Reply
  48. Lowry

    I didn’t even know what the shit a bollard was until now bro. I’d eat an f’n bollard for breakfast if it was made out of cream cheese.

    Reply
    1. Nick (Post author)

      Great, that’s great. Thank you for reading and learning about these traffic barriers online.

      Reply
  49. Concerned Man

    I drive up to restaurants and places of business sometimes and see that all there is between the customers and a car is a curb. Any car can accidentally drive up the sidewalk and through the glass front of the restaurant, accidentally killing people. Bollards should be mandatory at every business.

    Reply
  50. Lee Yory

    Maybe Christmas trees should be replaced with bollards. Then families would only have to invest a few hundred dollars for a single bolard that lasts forever and protects home ram attacks instead of a fire hazard death trap that real Christmas trees are.

    Reply
  51. LAKE

    I see these fing bollards everywhere. They are orange and red and blue and green and black and stone.

    Reply
  52. maki

    Its a really nice website. Thanks for giving full information about Hydraulic Automatic Bollards.

    Reply
  53. BBB

    Bolards are crazy. They can destroy semi trucks and vans.

    Reply
  54. RAMI

    I saw a crash on the news into a store and the news anchor said there was a lack of security posts! I was like, “it’s called a bollard you idiot!!”

    Reply
  55. Andrew

    What the hell, I never really knew what a bollard was until I saw them in a dream. The fish tacos were great. The protection of the bollards and me not being smashed by a truck were greater. Who are you?

    Reply
  56. TC

    The purpose of bollards is very nice.

    Reply
  57. Kabal

    What are different types of barriers? And the material they are made from? Traffic control posts are the best invention ever made.

    Reply
  58. Maria

    I love learning all the history of traffic control posts!

    Reply
  59. Michaelangelo

    Lighted bollards looks so cool at night. They help keep the cars from crashing into my convenience store and llama rental service barn.

    Reply
  60. Sixx

    Bro, a bollard is a short, sturdy post that is used to create a barrier or to mark a boundary. Bollards are often used to protect buildings and pedestrians from vehicles. I see so many buildings and convenience stores that need bollards!!

    Reply
  61. Jaimie

    Here is my meaning / definition of “what are bollards”, which I work with almost every day:

    Bollards are short posts that are used to create barriers or delineate space. They are commonly used to protect buildings and pedestrians from vehicles, and they can be found in a variety of settings, from city streets to parking lots. Bollards can be made from a variety of materials, including steel, concrete, and plastic, and they come in a variety of sizes and styles.

    Reply
  62. Joker

    Why did the bollard go to the gym? To become a buff-lard!

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *