How Bollards Protect Docks and Water Sport Areas

The phrase “heavy traffic” suggests paved roads for cars or bikes, but waterways are known for being heavily trafficked, as well. This is particularly true in areas where people commute to work via ferry or other boat, or places where water sports are a big tourism draw. In fact, bollards were invented for the purpose of helping dock boats along quaysides. The original bollards were decommissioned cannons planted in the dirt. Today, their use has expanded to include commuter safety on city streets, fire safety, wheelchair assistance and more.

Bollard Use and Safety

Today, bollards are used both on ships and land to increase dock security. Ships use them to secure ropes or assist during storms. On land they serve a variety of purposes. Bollards designed specifically to assist ships are shaped like mushrooms so rope can be fastened in a loop around the metal and tightened without worry of the line slipping free. Newer bollards in high-traffic areas have lights installed to help define the shore at night and in times of poor visibility. Bollards must be designed to help keep boats from slipping free of the docks. Visibility is also an issue, so pedestrians and bicycles are not in danger of going over the dock side. Dock bollards help provide control at the water’s edge. Unprotected docks are at risk of drivers losing control or attached tows breaking between a carrier vehicle and a boat. Removable traffic bollards are great for providing access in times of need or emergency. They lock into a fixed location, and can be removed when a boat needs towing from the water or supplies lowered to a passing vessel. Permanent bollards (or fixed) are usually located at the end of very high, concrete docks.


Safety manufacturers have improved on the bollard design in various ways to reduce cost and improve versatility. Many suppliers have a plethora of shapes and sizes. Newer bollards are subjected to temperature and durability testing for accidental overloads, damage to the docks, and easy inspections. In Poland, a program was launched by the Port Authority to increase handling capacity and dock length control. New bollards, fenders and quays are being installed that are resistant to sharp temperature drops, reflective and infused with steel and other materials to increase stopping power. They also feature friction pads for docked vessels. The Royal Wharf in London has built berms into the dock infrastructure. These are based off of bollards. They are metal intertidal terraces that not only serve as a safety feature for dockside traffic, but also protect marine life. This is part of an effort by the U.K. to increase the ecological value of dock protection structures. Their construction is also meant to be visually appealing, using timber and stylized, weather-resistance steel to enhance the waterfront profile. The berms include pedestrian safety features, like unfolding ladders, navigation markers, and a more delicate protection against boats to keep the vessels relatively safe. Aruba has installed fender plates that work with bollards and other safety features to protect marine life. In addition to mooring bollards, the structure utilizes rescue ladders, pit curbs, and other features to cut costs while increasing safety. These upgrades are considered critical for Aruba’s economy and tourism industry. For more information on how you can use bollards for marinas and docks, get in touch with a TrafficGuard Direct representative today. To see additional benefits that bollards can provide, check out our Facebook and Twitter pages.
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