Designed to Protect

Selecting security bollard solutions that are engineered to protect as intended and look good while doing it
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By Amanda Voss, MPP
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Removable Bollards

Fixed bollards are the right choice for a location that a car should never enter, but there are other circumstances where bollards need to provide more flexibility.

In buildings with minimal or variable security needs, it may be worth considering bollards that are removable. Removable bollards can be moved or shifted as necessary, and offer better flexibility and access for maintenance and operations. For example, a strip of bollards may be needed to provide protection in front of a pedestrian door, but those bollards also have to provide the flexibility to be removed for site maintenance and to accommodate the occasional larger vehicle for loading. Bollards that bolt to base plates and can be removed or shifted as needed may provide an answer for these light security areas needing flexibility of the perimeter. It is important to note, though, that making a bollard removable often impacts its security rating; in many cases, removable bollards don’t meet designated security standards.

Bollard Spacing

The vehicle aperture describes the spacing between bollards that prevents vehicle clearance. Typically, the distance between security bollards is set at 40-inch minimum up to a 60-inch maximum, center-to-center, depending on foundation design variables. The desired security rating and bollard type may dictate a more exact and appropriate spacing. It is a common misconception that the ASTM standards dictate the spacing of the bollards, when in fact it is simply ensuring that bollards are spaced in a way that a vehicle has to contact one without passing through unimpeded.

Some vendors may base their ratings of impact on more than one bollard, which directly affects the spacing necessary to meet a standard. A designer should always check to make sure that any rated product is engineered so that one bollard alone will meet the impact criteria. Otherwise, design choices become extremely limited.


Security bollards offer robust protection for public spaces of all kinds. However, historically, most security bollards have taken the form of generic pipes and cylinders that offer little in the way of design or lighting functionality. Contemporary security bollards can do both: provide required levels of performance in combination with design and material selection that are aesthetically pleasing and integrate seamlessly into the design of a landscape. New design options make it easy to carry a cohesive look across a property while addressing different lighting and security needs. Leading manufactures are now offering, pathway bollards, pedestrian lighting, and exterior fixtures such as benches and trash receptacles to complement security bollards. By considering products in complementary materials, and designs, landscape architects or engineers can develop a holistic scheme that adds beauty and practicality to the site. By adding a fully tested security core to bollards, leading manufacturers are able to capture the best of both worlds, meeting stringent high-impact crash requirements while providing a beautiful and efficient bollard, with or without illumination. Selecting materials and finishes is integral to specifying site furniture products. Yet, making material selections is complex, as the need for security has joined more traditional selection criteria like aesthetics, durability, and performance. Today’s architects and designers are responsible for recommending materials that balance these different requirements.

Bollard Material and Finish Options

For security bollard designs, the opportunity to customize materials and lighting has vastly expanded. Function no longer has to happen at the expense of good design. Stainless steel and aluminum enclosures now play host to a variety of finishes and styles. Stainless steel is an excellent choice of material for bollards because of its strength, corrosion resistance, recyclability, ease of maintenance and aesthetic appearance.

Stainless steel bollards can be left with a satin finish or can be powdercoated to achieve limitless color possibilities. Powdercoat colors comprise a full palette of standard and custom options. Top manufacturers offer powdercoat colors that have been formulated to be ultra-durable for improved long-term wear and resistance to weather and are anti-graffiti, allowing marks from paint, permanent markers, and dirt to be removed easily, without harsh cleaners.

Additionally, select manufacturers can provide stainless steel surfaces treated with an invisible protective treatment that offers significantly enhanced protection from weather and graffiti and increases the maintenance ease of metal surfaces. This specialized surface treatment combines exceptional durability with the ability to lock out water spots, fingerprints, graffiti, and other surface damage. Treated surfaces are more easily cleaned and durable, as the treated materials are abrasion and scratch-resistant. The treatment is permanent, environmentally responsible, UV stable, and will not degrade or discolor over time.

Sustainability Through Durability

One of the best ways to eliminate what is added to a landfill and reduce a site’s carbon footprint is to specify products that are durable. Bollards from leading manufacturers are produced from stainless steel and aluminum and are carefully crafted to not only endure the elements, but to transcend temporary style trends. Using metals allows for a high degree of recycled content in the bollard product as well as recyclability of the product at its end of life.

Leading manufacturers provide Product Environmental Data Sheets that provide transparency and open reporting for all materials and products. This enables better and more sustainable product selection.


Illuminated security bollards enhance and coordinate with pedestrian and landscape lighting fixtures, creating a seamless flow for exterior design. Not only do illuminated security bollards provide protection, but they also offer the supplementary benefits of pathway lighting and wayfinding for pedestrians. Additional lighting also bolsters building security.

Depending on design, illuminated bollards can provide symmetrical or asymmetrical lighting patterns and are available with LED light engines and in a variety of lamp temperatures from warm to neutral.

Lamp choice can provide enhanced energy efficiency. Symmetrical lighting patterns can be provided through coordinating bollard design. Bollards providing downward-facing light help minimize light pollution and glare. Lamp drivers can offer reverse-phase, forward-phase, and dimming capabilities. It is important to verify that lighting has earned the necessary certifications, including Class 2 rated output (UL8750) for LED lamps.

Design Options and Customization

For lit security bollards the design possibilities are numerous. Shields are available in symmetrical or asymmetrical configurations with standard or custom designs, offering multiple ways to direct light. Designs can include decorative perforation patterns, mesh, and shaped configurations. Custom capabilities are also available, so that names and logos can be incorporated into the shield surface, creating limitless opportunities for branding or wayfinding.

Manufacturer Support

Finding the right manufacturer is essential to creating a result that fits both the project space and security needs. There are numerous other considerations tied to site conditions that may come into play, including the necessity of installation under pavers, installation inside a parking garage, or in a setting that requires the bollard to be removable. A manufacturer that provides clear information regarding testing and certification is critical to ensure that you can trust the quality and performance of a security bollard product. The best manufacturer will act as both a supplier and a partner on a project.


Modern security bollards are a beautiful way to guard against vehicle infringement while allowing pedestrian access. Beyond updates making security bollards perform to the highest expectation, design improvements are allowing these security products to be tailored to site-specific needs, both in performance and aesthetic. As functional as they are beautiful, today’s security bollards are designed to protect as intended, and look good while doing it. Whether used in a streetscape, park, or surrounding a building exterior, sleek aesthetics are an attractive match for today’s security-conscious settings


1Impact Testing of Vehicle Security Barriers: An overview of vehicle impact test standards., Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI). August 2020.
2An Innovative Foundation System for Bollards and Barriers, by George Adom A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Science in Civil Engineering Carleton University Ottawa, Ontario © 2015, George Adom.

Amanda Voss, MPP, is an author, editor, and policy analyst. Writing for multiple publications, she has also served as the managing editor for Energy Design Update


Forms+Surfaces Forms+Surfaces designs and manufactures architectural products used in public spaces around the world—indoors, outdoors, and everywhere in between. Our diverse product line invites creativity and provides real-world solutions to the challenges our customers face every day.


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Originally published in October 2022