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Bollards: The Key to Storefront Safety With Bill Sullivan

According to the Storefront Safety Council, there are:

  • 100 incidents every day
  • 16,000 injured annually
  • And 100% preventable

What are we talking about? Vehicle-into-building crashes! We sat down with our VP of Sales — Safety Bollard Division, Bill Sullivan, to discuss storefront safety and the safety bollards.

Hi Bill, let's start with the basics. What is a bollard? 

Crash-tested safety bollards are safety barriers that have been impact tested by an accredited third-party testing lab to an international safety standard. 

That means they're proven to stop vehicles from crashing into places like storefronts, restaurants and public spaces. Crash-tested bollards provide protection and save lives. 

Some people may have a basic idea of what a bollard is — because once you understand what they are, you can spot them all over the place — however, it's not as clear that it is much more than a pipe in the ground. 

Crash-tested CrashCore Bollards feature a proprietary high-strength steel core that absorbs impact energy and attenuates shock — so the bollard redistributes the impact load instead of transferring it to the ground or the vehicle. For example, the ASTM F3016 standard certifies that a bollard will stop a 5,000lb vehicle moving at 10mph, 20mph or 30mph. That can be the equivalent of a Dodge Ram traveling up to 30mph into that bollard. 

Where do you place bollards?

When choosing bollard placements, traffic flow and critical areas determine what kind of protection you may need. Have an accessible parking space? How about online pickup areas with tight, pull through spaces? Or nose-in parking right in front of your store? Evaluating your critical areas ensures you can protect pedestrians and keep your building safe. 

Our safety experts will survey an area and check for high-trafficked zones, such as a storefront with significant space for a car to speed up or a nose-in parking space. Depending on the traffic flow, we will help specify the correct selection and placement of a safety bollard to ensure people are protected. 

According to the Storefront Safety Council, 24% of crashes happen in retail stores — where else does it happen? Where are these crashes more likely to occur?

The most common areas are typically where parking spaces are pointed directly at buildings. People may be pulling in, not paying attention, focusing on picking up their orders, and then they hit the accelerator instead of the break. This can happen on the front or the side of a building, since many people forget to protect them. 

Other areas can include glazing, which is where a store has glass from floor to ceiling. That storefront is a very vulnerable area because if a car through that, there is no structure to stop it from shattering. 

Bollards provide total safety solution to protect places like stores, healthcare centers, playgrounds, banks, or any other area populated with people. Importantly, they allow foot traffic flow to continue, they are customizable, and don't require a huge change. They make it very easy to people to drive up in their cars to a place safely and easily. 

How do you install a bollard? What is the approximate timeline?

McCue has a full installation services team — so we can handle the entire bollard installation from start to finish or we can certify your preferred contractor. 

When you’re installing a bollard, there are few important steps to take:

The first is a ground scan. You must do this to ensure you won’t hit any utilities below. If you do, that could be a costly mistake resulting in a power outage. You could also hit a water main and cause significant problems. You must know what’s below the earth before you dig.

The next step is laying out the bollards. You want to mark up where each bollard will be placed. We make sure there are no accessibility concerns, everything is in-line and looks good, and then you can start cutting. From there you will core-drill a hole. It’s fast and easy. Then you excavate the soil to create space for your bollard foundation. After that you place the bollards in the holes. Then, you pour concrete to secure the bollards and gill the holes. Importantly, the bollard itself is never filled with concrete.

Once you have the bollards installed, you place the cover over. It’s a fast and easy installation, with under an hour timeframe to install each one. Typically, for a traditional retail store, we can install bollards overnight to avoid interrupting any business hours or customer flow. Then, when the store opens the next morning, you have protection around the building.


What kind of bollard options are available? Are they customizable?

Of course, we can personalize our crash-tested bollards to meet your unique style without compromising strength. From modern brushed stainless steel to polymer covers in endless colors to complement your brand, we’ve got you covered. We’ve even created a stainless steel safety fence version with built-in bollards − perfect for protecting outdoor diners.

We work carefully with each customer to ensure bollards match the branding of their areas and the surrounding environment. With the aesthetics and designs we've created at McCue, we can design a true complement to a business, and we can custom color match. All we need is the Pantone number! 

We can also work with customers to blend with specific zones, like protecting and blending with accessible signage and online pickup to make sure you're protecting high-traffic driving areas.

What are common comments or questions you receive about bollards?

I usually get asked if it includes everything, such as the rebar cage, or do they have to be purchased separately? The answer is yes, these bollards are a complete kitted solution that includes the rebar cage, bollard covers, and hardware. 

Another question I get is why do you need to place bollards at the front of the building? Why is that important?

Ultimately this is a problem that we are see wherever there is a high-traffic area — people make mistakes and hit their accelerator instead of the brakes parking and end up crashing into a building. It's a preventable problem. Bollards create such a level of safety and protection of that you're not going to worry about vehicle-into-building crashes, which happen far too frequently.

Bollards allow customers to know that when they walk in , the building is actually safe and protected.You need a safety barrier that will stop the vehicle from impacting anything else, so make sure it's third-party certified to stop the car and protect your space.  

How do you solve your customer's most pressing safety need?

It's all about understanding and helping customers prevent storefront crashes. A customer may have a continued pattern of accidents occurring at their store because of the layout and format. I work to protect the places that may be vulnerable to keep people safe and save lives. Those are the most pressing business needs.

Ready to solve your most pressing safety need? Connect with Bill Sullivan via bsullivan@mccue.com or call (781) 771-9861.