What are retractable bollards?

Retractable bollards (also known as rising bollards, automatic bollards and telescopic bollards) are a type of vehicle barrier. As the name suggests, retractable bollards retract into the ground, either automatically or manually, to allow cars and other vehicles to enter/pass through a restricted area.

Retractable bollards are particularly handy as they can be neatly hidden underground when not in use.

You’ll typically see retractable bollards in places like car parks, private drives and pedestrian areas.


What’s the difference between manual and automatic retractable bollards?

Manual retractable bollards require manpower to pull them up into place or push them back into the ground. They are operated using a single-key locking mechanism.

Automatic bollards are controlled by a remote control or access control system using hydraulic or pneumatic technology.


Retractable bollards vs arm barriers

Another common security system for restricting traffic is the arm barrier. Both systems are designed to restrict traffic, but they tend to be used in different areas.

The most obvious difference between retractable bollards and arm barriers is the way they’re positioned to restrict traffic. Bollards move up and down vertically, whereas barrier arms create a horizontal barrier to entry.

As we’ve mentioned, bollards tend to work best in pedestrian areas because they’re easy for people to walk through while still restricting vehicles.

Because barrier arms are fixed horizontally, they don’t tend to work for this purpose as they’re much harder for members of the public to walk through. Instead, you’ll most likely see barrier arms at the entrances and exits of commercial car parks and buildings.

If you’re not sure which traffic restricting security system will work best for you, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of retractable bollards in comparison to arm barriers.


Retractable bollards: Pros

  • Functionality – Retractable bollards give you the option to both restrict vehicle access and allow pedestrians to pass through with ease. Barrier arms cannot do this.

  • Aesthetic – Retractable bollards can be designed to fit with the aesthetic of their surroundings, making them much less of an eyesore than barrier arms. They can also be completely hidden beneath the ground when not needed.


Retractable bollards: Cons

  • Installation – You would need to install several retractable bollards that are carefully spaced to restrict traffic while allowing the public to pass through. Barrier arms are much simpler, with just one arm needed at each entry/exit point.

  • Versatility – Retractable bollards will block all vehicles from accessing an area while barrier arms can be fixed at varying heights to restrict some vehicles (such as buses and vans) while allowing smaller vehicles to pass through.


To sum up, it’s clear that both retractable bollards and barrier arms are effective vehicle access control systems. Retractable bollards are best used in pedestrian areas and smaller spaces like private drives. Barrier arms are most effective when positioned at the entrances and exits of larger car parks and commercial buildings.

If you are looking to install access control points for vehicles and need some assistance, get in touch with us today! We can provide you with a personalised quote and advise you on the best course of action.

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