Man guarding Najave II

Bollards for More Advanced Storefront Safety

We often discuss electronic security systems such as video surveillance and access control. Yet certain physical barriers are also important elements in security. Among them are bollards, which have various applications.

By: William Pao, asmag; E-mail:

Bollards serve many purposes. For store owners, bollards can play a key role in protecting customers/staff against vehicle crashes. “They can be used as delineation devices to separate moving traffic from another area. Sometimes this can be to delineate a vehicular traffic lane from a bike lane, or they can be utilized to differentiate a pedestrianized area (for example outside a stadium at the ticket lines) from a parking area or roadway. We also see them utilized many times to protect critical infrastructure (for example electrical equipment) or retail storefronts from vehicular impact,” said Joseph Hauss, President of Gibraltar Perimeter Security.

The Most Expensive Bollard in the World

Retail storefront safety can be much enhanced by bollards, the lack of which can be quite devastating. This is underscored in an incident in which, according to an article by the Security Industry Association, a Chicago-area man lost both his legs after an accidental crash in 2017 outside a 7-Eleven store where bollards were not installed. According to the article, the man in February received a record-breaking US$91 million settlement from 7-Eleven.

To this, Rob Reiter, Principal at Reiter and Reiter Consulting and Co-Founder of the Storefront Safety Council, commented: “What’s the most expensive bollard in the world? The one that was not installed in front of the sidewalk at a 7-Eleven store in Chicago. I have been studying the problem of storefront safety and vehicle-into-building crashes in the United States since 2010. We founded the Storefront Safety Council in 2012 to bring focus and hard data to a serious public health and safety problem that was being overlooked. What we have found after all these years is that safety has been very often neglected in those retail and commercial areas where Americans most often eat, work, play and shop.”

Thousands Injured Annually

Using the council’s statistics, Reiter cited certain figures that are particularly alarming. “Vehicles run into commercial and retail properties more than 100 times per day or more than 36,000 times per year. Each year, more than 16,000 customers, pedestrians, and employees are injured, and as many as 2,600 are killed. Many of these crashes are low-speed parking lot incidents that are easily preventable,” he said.

He added: “In the recent 7-Eleven legal settlement, evidence was revealed that confirmed more than 6,300 storefront crashes occurred at unprotected 7-Eleven stores over 14 years. Approximately 800 stores were struck three times or more, with more than 100 struck more than five times. The totals worked out to 1.3 storefront crashes per day or about 500 crashes per year at unprotected stores.”

These incidents highlight the importance of installing bollards at these premises. “Some of these areas have no protective bollard devices in place, while other places have bollards in place, but it is the wrong bollard and they still have an incident. The best practice is to procure a crash test-certified bollard from a reputable U.S. manufacturer,” Hauss said. “Bollards can be designed with aesthetics in mind with a number of decorative sleeve designs and marketing wraps that can be utilized as a revenue driver for the end user, as it can be ad space.”


The next question, then, becomes how to choose the right bollard solution for the storefront. According to Hauss, most bollards are made of carbon steel or stainless steel that is crash test-certified. “However, there are some products in the marketplace that combine proprietary materials outside of this in their design with some combination of carbon steel and/or stainless,” he said.

He adds that the user should also identify what their threat vehicle is and the location and traffic directions around the facility. “Is it just nose-in parking and pedal error that you are concerned with, or could a vehicle come off the road directly into your building at 50 miles per hour (for example errant vehicle at high speed)? Do you have high-value assets in your store that make it a target for ram raid attacks where someone will try to physically knock down the security bollard with multiple impacts from a vehicle to leave it and make a getaway in another vehicle? These are just a couple of questions to look at when identifying the correct bollard and the vehicle type and penetration necessary for your facility,” Hauss said.


The installation of these bollards is also important. According to Hauss, bollard spacing depends on vehicle vector analysis. “There are sites where nose-in parking is at a 45-degree angle and others at 90-degree. ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) spacing also must be looked at when implementing bollards, which can differ by the municipality on what their minimum requirements are for gaps. Can the vehicle actually come in at 90 degrees? This is an important question on the spacing,” he said.

Hauss adds that spacing can also depend on the manufacturer and how they were tested and certified. “Typically, 48- to 60-inch maximum clear spacing between bollards will accommodate the angled and nose in parking and meet ADA, but you must look at how the product was tested and certified,” he said. “If a product was tested with 36-inch spacing and it is installed at 48-inch clear, it may change the loading, as two to three bollards would be impacted in the test, but only one bollard would be hit in the actual 48-inch installation, as most vehicles are less than 8 feet in width. It all starts with utilizing a well-versed consultant that knows what products are in the marketplace and then utilizing a reputable U.S.-based manufacturer.”

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