Whether by car, public transit, bike, or on foot, the average city block is filled with people trying to get where they're going. This process of getting from point A to point B can be somewhat dangerous, particularly for pedestrians. Walkers must always be on the lookout for oncoming vehicles, particularly when crossing the street. This doesn't leave a lot of mental energy for being friendly to one's neighbors. With basic transportation occupying the minds of more pedestrians, most people don't find a lot of occasion to stop, take a break, sit down, or talk. Could there be a solution to this problem? Could it be as simple as vehicle barricades?
Experiments with Bollards
It's hard to imagine that a few guard posts could change the whole atmosphere of a neighborhood. In fact, they can do just that when placed properly. Bollards create an opportunity for excellent public spaces—and these spaces foster friendliness and community. Ultimately, the entire atmosphere of a city can be changed with the creation of quality public spaces. This theory was tested in New York City during the summer of 2006
. Temporary bollard barriers aren't ideal if your goal is pedestrian safety; however, they offer enough of a deterrent to vehicle traffic that their use in this experiment yielded some great results. The Department of Transportation in New York saw a particular area was an epicenter for bad traffic. Two blocks of Downtown Brooklyn were primarily used illegally as a parking lot for police and court officers. Few cars could fit on these streets as they were. To solve this problem, the Department of Transportation placed steel guard posts around this two-block area. By adding chairs and tables, this experiment created a welcoming public space for pedestrians to rest and socialize. No longer an ugly, underused parking lot, Willoughby Street was transformed by a few well-placed bollards.
Aside from creating great outdoor public spaces, one of the primary uses of pipe bollards is protection. The streets of large cities must be safe for everyone, even if they are not in cars. Those who aren't in cars, in fact, tend to be in the most danger, and are at risk of being struck by an oncoming vehicle and fatally injured. Particularly in large cities, pedestrians often spill out of the sidewalk and into the road. This can be incredibly dangerous. Bollards are a simple, cost-effective solution to pedestrian safety. They function to separate cyclists and pedestrians from cars. While cars are completely excluded, pedestrians may easily enter and exit through the spaces in the guard posts. Even temporary bollards offer significant pedestrian protection. While steel guard posts helps prevent vehicular accidents, , the visual deterrent of any bollard also helps to reduce accident rates. It's said people in cities are unfriendly and distant from one another. Perhaps this can be changed. Guard posts offer a solution to a city-planning problem that's plagued us since the invention of the car. Perhaps it's time to investigate more into what bollards can do for us.