Best Practices for Proper Bollard Spacing

Two bollards help protect cars from hitting an ATM

Whether you’re constructing a new building or creating a temporary setup, bollards are likely needed to protect your building and assets. But the distance between bollards has a huge impact on their effectiveness. Before diving into bollard spacing, it’s important to understand what a bollard is and how to maximize protection with the right type of bollard.

What are bollards?

Bollards are steel or concrete structures that protect a building or asset from moving vehicles and pedestrians. They are often seen around the perimeter of a building, near entryways, in parking lots and parking garages, in parks, and near loading docks, ATMs and drive-through windows. Permanent or temporary bollards are also found in warehouses and on production floors to protect equipment and inventory from collisions with forklifts.

Plastic bollard covers slide over concrete and stainless steel bollards to improve their appearance and lengthen their life. You can also combine bollard sleeves with a plastic base for temporary or semi-permanent setups for outdoor dining, festivals and events, temporary storefronts, or curbside pickup. 

Bollard post covers are also often used to set vehicle and pedestrian traffic patterns or as security bollards to keep people out of restricted areas. Removable bollard sleeve covers come in a wide variety of sizes and colors to catch people's attention, match brand colors or blend in with the natural environment.

While temporary plastic bollard sleeves are very versatile, it's important to note that the sleeves are not engineered to withstand vehicular traffic collisions. They are only meant to serve as visual barriers to keep drivers, pedestrians and bikers out of restricted areas or for the control of traffic flow. 

Where should you place bollards?

Proper bollard spacing is extremely important when it comes to providing protection or guiding vehicles and pedestrians. Though bollard placement guidelines are unique to each municipality and application, there are a few general rules to follow.  The first is to ensure all bollard spacing meets ADA guidelines, which requires a minimum of 3 feet between bollards to allow for a person in a wheelchair to safely pass through.

When positioning bollards to prevent vehicle access, spacing between bollards should be no more than 5 feet—the minimum width of a vehicle.

During bollard installations, it's also a good idea to set them roughly 1.5 feet away from the curb to allow room for the passenger door to open and someone to get in or out.

When measuring the space between bollards, always measure from the outermost edge of the bollard, especially if adding bollard post covers to steel or concrete bollards. Also be sure to keep fire lanes and emergency entrances and exits clear so police, fire and emergency vehicle access can occur if needed. 

Special Considerations for Bollards in Public Spaces

Bollard spacing for utilities and landmarks

If a vehicle collides with a gas meter, water pipes or an electric box, it can be destructive and disruptive to a business. When it comes to protecting utility meters and mechanical equipment, bollards can be spaced as close together as necessary. Just be sure a service person can access the machinery to service it when needed. The same goes for statues and landmarks. As long as a person or emergency vehicle doesn’t need to pass between the bollards, spacing can be tight. In fact, tighter spacing is recommended if the asset is in a high-traffic area. 

Bollard spacing for loading docks

When large delivery trucks back up to the loading dock, the back of the truck needs to align with the loading dock door. It’s also vital that the truck doesn’t come into contact with the building. Large yellow bollards are often placed outside the dock to help guide the truck into position while preventing the truck from hitting the building. It’s generally advised that these bollards are placed 6 inches to the left and right of the door, framing the door.

Bollard spacing for bike lanes

If you need to designate a bike lane, brightly colored plastic bollards, especially bollards with reflective stripes, can be a great way to alert both drivers and bikers of where their lanes meet. (It should be noted that plastic bollards will not protect either party in the case of a collision.) For bike traffic bollard spacing along straight paths, install bollards every 50 feet. For curved paths or intersections, it’s best to space bollards at 5-foot intervals.

When in doubt, the general rule of thumb for bollard spacing is to position them 3 to 5 feet apart. That goes for traffic bollard spacing, permanent or temporary parking bollards, bollards around the perimeter of your building or bollards meant to protect machinery or warehouse inventory. The caveat is to always check local codes and ordinances and building codes to ensure your project meets local regulation.

If you’re ready to take the next step, explore our line of bollards bollards and bollard post covers and bases. Or if you already have your temporary bollards, read up on how to install a post sleeve.


Americans with Disabilities Act. and Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities

SF Better Streets. Bollards