The Importance of Properly Spacing Pedestrian Bollards

A primary consideration in installing pedestrian bollards is the amount of spacing that should be allowed between each unit.  Promoting public safety while not impeding legitimate use of the enclosed area, is always the underlying factor.  While actual standards vary, the following are guidelines use to determine spacing and location: availability must not be restricted for those with legitimate access to the property, including those with physical handicaps.  This is spelled out in US law in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  1. The spacing scheme used must, on balance, contribute to public safety, not detract from it.  This guideline has applicability to bollard placement along combination pedestrian/bicycle paths, where in the past a staggered configuration was used.  This often led to cyclists either having to tightly maneuver their way through the bollards or collide with them, causing a number of injuries and a few fatalities.
  2. Bollard spacing must not impede the ability of emergency responders to reach victims of a crime or accident.  For this reason, a spacing of approximately eight feet (2.4 meters) is common in many parts of the United States, such as public parks located in low-crime areas.
  3. Tighter spacing of pedestrian bollards is indicated when access control to sensitive locations is important.  For example, counter-terrorism experts in New York City recommend placing bollards four feet (2.1 meters) apart as a general rule of thumb.  In reality, however, the gap is often much more narrow, sometimes as little as three feet (approximately one meter).
  4. In the event of an automobile crash or other accident, inappropriate spacing of bollards can leave both private and public property owners open to lawsuits.  For this reason, potential exposure to civil liabilities must be considered in determining bollard layout.

In conclusion, while standardized spacing measures may be used as general guides, they must not override good judgment in determining the needs of each particular location.  As with so many things in life, the question of pedestrian bollard placement defies a simple answer.

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