Bollards Provide Protection for Outdoor Dining During COVID 19

Outdoor dining areas have helped to mitigate dining industry financial losses during COVID-19, while providing a comfortable and social outdoor dining experience for restaurant patrons.  While outdoor dining has helped address one issue, it has created another.  Because many restaruants are now being allowed to use sidewalk and even street space to send service outside and keep people safe from COVID-19, restaurant goers are now inadvertently in harms way due to errant drivers.  Some have been quick to address this with bollards, understanding the risk associated with dining close to vehicular traffic as well as the associated liability risk.   Bollards, if chosen and placed correctly, can provide security to those dining outside.   However, some have hastily set up outdoor dining areas without considering the risks.  This is can be seen in this example in Durango, CO.

Protecting outdoor dining with removable bollards or fixed bollards can be accomplished in a number of ways.  The ideal situation is to block off traffic from downtown dining areas altogether with bollards.  This scenario is the best way to provide a buffer between pedestrians and traffic and in the event bollards are struck by a vehicle, there should be enough room to ensure no pedestrians are harmed by the vehicle or debris created from the collision.  

At a minimum, bollards should be placed around the dining area to create a safe dining experience.  In this instance crash tested bollards may be considered to ensure that a vehicle is stopped, more or less, in its tracks at a prescribed speed.  ASTM F3016 is a test standard ideal for low speed streets.  ASTM F3016 is a test standard used to determine a security bollards ability to stop a 5,000 lb. vehicle at 10, 20 or 30 MPH.  For permanent outdoor dining areas, fixed bollards may be a good solution.  However, removable bollards give the end user flexibility to set up an outdoor dining area when required and remove bollards occasionally for other events or simply for maintenance of the bollard units themselves.  

When installing ASTM F3016 bollards, it is critical to install the security posts as indicated by a reputable bollard manufacturer.  The manufacturer should provide a test certificate and summary upon the sale of its crash tested bollards and an accurate detail of the footing required to ensure that the bollards do not fail under impact.  It is also critical the end user ensure the installer follows the manufacturers guidelines for installation and does not cut corners.  This could be a deadly mistake.  End users should beware of "independent bollard crash tests" that were not conducted at an accredited facility.  Further, finite element analysis does not take the place of an ASTM F3016 bollard crash test.  

In the COVID-19 era, outdoor dining will be a critical way to move forward and removable bollards and fixed bollards will be a critical method of protecting pedestrians.

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