Ideal Applications for Traffic Bollards: Parking Lots

Reposted from

This post is part three of a five part article dealing with types of bollards and their ideal uses.  So far I've discussed typical types of bollards, and ideal applications in traffic denial.  Today I’ll discuss typical parking lot bollards, which also includes traffic denial but is more specific to the parking lot itself.



There are many assets within a parking lot that need to be protected from the errant driver.  Though parking lot speeds are assumed to be lower than other applications, driver mistakes such as driving forward instead of reverse (or vice versa), contribute to accidental impacts.  The lack of curbing or faded lane striping also contribute to drivers short cutting corners or avoiding driving lanes altogether.   This presents the need to protect certain areas from vehicles, usually cars and light trucks.

Utility Protection

Often shopping centers or other locations require dedicated fire hydrant, gas meters, electrical panels, or other utilities that are located in or near the parking lot.  For obvious reasons, these utilities need to be protected, usually on all sides, from potential accidental impact.  In the gas of natural gas lines, it is of special importance that the area is well protected by strong bollards because of the potential of fire or explosion from impact.

Overhead Signs

Many businesses have overhead signs mounted to large posts near the street.  These posts as well need to be protected from errant vehicles that could potential cause damage significant enough to topple the structure.  Embedded bollards are used when there is danger of catastrophic damage.  However, less expensive surface mounted or rebounding bollards are also used when the danger is less severe and the purpose is to avoid occasion damage.  This is also done at times with large light posts or electronic information signage.



Corners / Entrance Driveways

Malls, grocery stores, and convenience stores are move a great deal of product, and need delivery trucks to frequently re-store their wares.  These trucks need to make wide turns an often accidentally cut corners which can lead to damage to buildings, landscaping, and driveway surfacing.  Lack of curbing within parking lots also contributes to the propensity for drivers to cut lane corners, leading to more potential damage.  Bollards can be used at these corners to prevent these short cutting drivers from damaging important assets.  These can be embedded in the landscaping areas or on the driving surface at the edge of a turn.


Parking Signs

A unique but common application of the bollard is as a protective device for sign posts.  The Americans with Disabilities Act mandates handicap parking spaces and appropriate signage.  Many companies also create preferred parking spaces, such as “employee of the month”, which need signage to identify the space.  However signs in the middle of a parking lot can take many bumps which eventually bend and break the sign.  A bollard can be used in lieu of or in conjunction with a wheel stop to prevent vehicles from impacting the sign post.  The bollard does this through increased conspicuity and a psychological desire not to impact a more foreboding object by the driver.



Recharging Stations

Becoming more popular is the addition of electric vehicle recharging stations which involves especially expensive equipment that must be protected from damage.  This is a similar application to an air fill station that might be found in a gas station.  A couple well placed bollards in front of the equipment is a smart investment.


Access Prevention

A common use of bollards is to prevent access by vehicle to areas intended only for pedestrians.  This could be a small access alley or a restaurant eating location just off the parking lot.  Whenever pedestrian safety is at risk, it is important to adequately protect them from potential run-away vehicles.  A simple decorative gate is simply not enough.  When aesthetics are especially important, architectural bollards are often used, or in lieu of those, large concrete planters can serve the purpose of a bollard if specifically designed for that purpose.


Ice Shacks / Small Out Buildings

It’s not uncommon to find small out building in a strip-mall.  These are often “ice shacks” or small drive-thru building such as an ATM, mailbox, or DVD rental.  Because these areas are in the middle of travel areas of a parking lot, protection around them is desirable and usually occurs in the form of a “picket fence” of bollards completely surrounding the building.


Parking Garages / Public Parking Lots

Public parking garages nearly always have toll shacks or other revenue equipment that require protection from errant vehicles.  Should the station be manned, it is especially important to use strong protective bollards to guard the area.  One case that is unique, however, is the addition of bollards in post-tensioned concrete structures.  The tendons which keep the concrete in compression are extremely important and cannot be damaged by drilling or coring into the structure.  When adding any of the numerous bollards found in a typical parking structure, care must be taken not to damage the tendons.  As well, the bollard should be designed with a shear point either in the anchors used or in the bollard itself, such that upon impact, the structural concrete is not damaged, which could lead to a catastrophic failure of the building.  For this reason, surface mounted bollards are more often used in post-tensioned concrete applications.


Failed Structural Concrete Building


Bollards are used throughout parking lots for numerous reasons.  It’s not uncommon for new parking lot construction to contain scores of bollards and bollards signs throughout various areas.  Proper design and placement of bollard decrease damage to assets and protect pedestrians.

In the next two parts of this article, we’ll look at the following to areas of interest:

  • Drive-Thru Lanes
  • Factories and Warehouses