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Preventing Vehicle Terror Attacks on Campus with Bollards

Bollards help protect special events, building entrances and more from vehicle attacks and accidents.

As this article was being written in December 2016, news reports were coming in that a vehicle attack on a Christmas market in Berlin killed at least 12 people and injured more than 50 others. Less than a month before, the U.S. State Department had warned about such attacks in public places throughout Europe, saying that extremist groups including the Islamic State and Al Qaeda were focusing on such locales during the holiday season.

Indeed, both terrorist groups have called on followers to use trucks to attack crowds. On July 14, 2016, a truck plowed into Bastille Day vacationers in Nice, France, killing 86 people.

Lest American campuses think that they are immune, on Nov. 28, 2016, a car ramming attack and mass stabbing occurred at Ohio State University’s (OSU) Watts Hall. The attacker was shot and killed by the first responding OSU police officer, but not before 13 people were hospitalized for injuries – nine of them struck by the vehicle. Luckily, nobody was killed.

To stop such attacks, campus security professionals need to be cognizant of two different types of vehicle access points for these incidents to occur. The first location is primarily used by pedestrians but vehicles frequently need to pass through. An example could be a square in which the maintenance truck comes through to clean the area periodically.

Other areas could be locations with restricted parking. At a hospital, it might be the entrance to the emergency department. Such access points are well served by bollards. The bollards can go up and down to let vehicles through, while others can be fixed or stationary.

The other access points are those that are temporary. On a college or high school campus, traffic may need rerouting for football games and commencements. A hospital might have an open house. In either case, sections normally open to traffic will be closed to create pedestrian paths and gathering points. However, these areas still must allow entry of delivery trucks and certain other authorized vehicles. These locations are best protected with crash-rated portable barriers that erect in 15 minutes and are then removed once the event is over.

Bollards Can Protect Campuses

Bollards are aesthetically pleasing and let pedestrians move between them in non-roadway applications. These systems operate individually or in groups of up to ten and are used for intermediate security applications.

Individual bollards are up to 12.75 inches in diameter, up to 35 inches high and are usually mounted on 3-5 foot centers. They are tested to stop and destroy an attacking vehicle weighing 10,000 pounds moving at 65 mph or a 20,000-pound vehicle moving at 46 mph. Typically kept in the “up” position to stop traffic, moveable bollards can lower to allow vehicles to pass through.

Ranging from faceted, fluted, tapered, rings and ripples, colors, pillars, to shields, emblems and logos, bollards are versatile. You can specify ornamental steel trim attached directly to the bollard, or select cast aluminum sleeves, which slip right over the crash tube. Bollards can be galvanized for corrosion resistance, fitted with warning lights for increased visibility and engineered to suit high traffic. If damaged, simply slip off the old and slip on the new.

UCLA uses decorative bollards to restrict vehicle access to student housing and other locations that require authorized access on a somewhat frequent basis. Some of the areas block access to dumpsters and roads that demand pedestrian access only, such as when classes are in session.

Decorative bollards also protect the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, located on the West Campus of Texas A&M University. They are designed to protect facilities from those not authorized to enter or others from driving errant vehicles into pedestrian areas.

Bollard terrorism

Fixed-post bollards are available to secure the sides of roadways with the same crash rating and appearance as their moveable cousins. Versus cement barriers such as posts and pots, many campuses prefer fixed post bollards for several reasons. When hit, cement posts and pots can explode, literally spreading shrapnel throughout the crowd. Shallow foundation bollards can be installed within sidewalks or on top of concrete deck truss bridges as well as conform to the inclines and turns of a locale. They also meet the 1-meter clearance regulations mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The fixed bollard, which does not go up and down, provides significant blocking against threats that continue to challenge security directors.

For example, fixed bollards can stop a vehicle from plowing into a hospital pharmacy or keep vehicles on the other side of the campus perimeter. They let facility managers meet a long-standing challenge: how to easily install bollards on shallow substrates, including those that are not level or have turns. No longer must locations such as curves on hills, the upper levels of parking structures and other unprotected locales use unsightly “make-do” solutions to stop car bombers or wayward drivers.

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