When it comes to the humble bollard, many people see it as nothing other than something to be avoided when driving. They are stood on road islands to help direct the traffic around the concrete island, just in case you couldn't see it in the first place. I imagine they have replaced policemen in this respect. With the ever-increasing incidents of road rage, who in their right mind would want to be a policeman standing in the middle of the road?
And of what use as a traffic director are they, really? The only reason you need them is to avoid what is in the centre of the road. And what, exactly, is in the centre of the road? Oh yes, a bollard. If these bollards were not in the road, would you be able to determine which side of the road to drive on all by yourself? And what of the roads with no bollards? Have you seen them? It's utter chaos, cars all over the place, drivers completely befuddled about their personal place in the stream of traffic, it's a veritable nightmare so I, for one, say thank goodness for the bollard.
In some circumstances, such as when under the influence of large amounts of alcohol, the bollard can be an absolute lifesaver. When the whole world starts revolving and you need something to hang on to, the bollard, whether in its most basic form or something a little more fancy, such as those found on a quayside, come in dead handy. When the world becomes vertical and it's only you standing upright, you wrap your arms around that bollard and hang on in there until it all starts to settle down again.
Of course, it will probably be around six to eight hours before the world rights itself again and in the meantime, that bollard has become your best friend. You have cuddled up to that bollard, it has become your saviour from the spinning globe, it has become your companion that you have lovingly caressed and wrapped your arms around the neck of and it has become your confident as your poor our all your woes to it. Of course, everything in this paragraph is done under the influence of alcohol but it all makes sense at the time.
Bollards come in many shapes and sizes depending on the purpose it will be used for, whether it is to be permanent or temporary and how anally retentive the local council are about the prettiness of their bollards. Those in charge of quaysides would never entertain your basic, boring cylindrical bollard.
Theirs have to resemble the original upturned canons of old and should be painted with either British racing green, black or red, essentially gloss paint. For those who are more particular, or on the occasion of a royal visit, the decorative aspects of a bollard can be picked out in either gold or contrasting colours depending on council budget.
When we go back to basics, and as a temporary measure, you have the orange coloured street cone. These will do the same job as a bollard in that they alert oncoming traffic to an obstacle in the road, usually a workman leaning on a shovel and a sticky situation can be avoided. At times, a near disaster is only just avoided and you will be able to tell the culprits that weren't concentrating on the road because they will be driving up the road with a cone trapped under the wheel arch, making a most uncomfortable screaming noise.
These cones may well be made of plastic, they may well look a lot less pretty than the quayside bollard, but they should never be underestimated. Their main attraction is that they are portable. This means that not only can they be moved from one road works site to another but they make great hats when the blood/alcohol ratio reaches a certain point.
Traffic flow expert Catherine Harvey looks at the use of the bollard when it comes to road usage.