It is time to get rid of bollards on our trails. Tell your story.

Bike/Walk Central Florida is collecting stories from Central Florida bicyclists who have had close encounters of the bad kind with “bollards,” those wacky, tacky, uh-oh… smacky posts used to keep cars off of trails. Based on feedback we have received from area cyclists, we are planning to work with Orange and Seminole counties to have these hazards removed from our trails. Our initial contact with Orange County was rebuffed, on the grounds that they’ve had an “insignificant” number of complaints … and yet, we all seem to know someone who has hit a bollard.

If you struck a bollard in Central Florida, please fill out the form below. If you are part of a cycling club or community, please poll your members/email lists and forward to any other groups/shops you can think of, and ask them to send me their stories.

Thank you!

Many readers of CommuteOrlando are from other states and countries, but we still want to hear your stories. If you hit a bollard somewhere outside Central Florida, please tell your story in the comments section of this post.

16 replies
  1. SocialBlunder
    SocialBlunder says:

    Do you not have ATV drivers in Florida who would treat bollardless trails as an invitation?

  2. RonE
    RonE says:

    I almost hooked my handle bar on this particular bollard on Thursday afternoon in the rain. This bollard and its cousin across the street are located on very tight curves. They demand extra attention to navigate and that makes it even harder to check for on-coming traffic when crossing the road. My real issue with this particular area is not the posts themselves, but rather the two very short-radius ninety-degree turns that the trail uses to cross the road.

    Worse yet are multiple posts that constrain travel even more. I have seen several near misses when people try to navigate a line of collocated bollards.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      Ron, I’m so glad you did not hit it!

      I am certain others have hit those bollards. As you pointed out, that’s a really treacherous trail design.

      That whole section is a poster child for toy bicycle syndrome. They’ve subjected cyclists to 4 bollard hazards, a sidewalk intersection hazard (2 if you include Forsyth) and 2 sharp turns at a road crossing, for what? To keep bikes off a 25mph residential street with speed bumps that doesn’t connect to anything but a neighborhood!

      BTW, I now use the road there — leaving and entering the trail at Dorris. That way I only have one bollard hazard and one sidewalk intersection to contend with. The trail should intersect with Partridge at the corner where it comes off its own easement and the road itself should be used as the bike corridor.

  3. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    Bollards are not used in The Netherlands or anywhere else with a high cycle mode share. The way they keep car drivers off the cycle paths is through law enforcement and by having the path narrow enough (ie less than 2.5 M) that a car cannot drive along it.

  4. danc
    danc says:

    Even “properly” installed bollards constitute a serious and potentially fatal safety hazard to unwary trail users. In addition, no bollard layout that admits bicycles, tricycles, and bicycle trailers can exclude single-track motor vehicles such as motorcycles and mopeds. For these reasons, bollards should never be a default treatment, and should not be used unless there is a documented history of intrusion by unauthorized cars, trucks, or other unauthorized vehicles.*

    * DRAFT Accessibility Guidance for Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities, Recreational Trails, Scenic Byways, and Transportation Enhancements – Recreational Trails Program – FHWA –

  5. danc
    danc says:

    RESTRICTING MOTOR VEHICLE TRAFFIC * (recommendations against bollards)

    Unauthorized access by motor vehicles is a problem on some pathways. In general, this is a greater issue on pathways that extend through independent corridors that are not visible from adjacent roads and properties. Per the MUTCD (3), the R5‐3 NO MOTOR VEHICLES sign can be used to reinforce the
    rules.

    The routine use of bollards and other similar barriers to restrict motor vehicle traffic is discouraged,
    unless there is a known history of use by unauthorized motor vehicles. Barriers such as bollards, fences,
    or other similar devices create permanent fixed object hazards to path users. Bollards on pathways are
    often struck by cyclists and other path users and can cause serious injury. Approaching riders may shield even a conspicuous bollard from a following rider’s view until a point where he lacks sufficient time to
    react.

    Furthermore, physical barriers are often ineffective at the job they were intended for – keeping out
    motorized traffic. People who are determined to use the path illegally will often find a way around the
    physical barrier, damaging path structures and adjacent vegetation. Barrier features can also slow
    access for emergency responders.

    * Draft revision of AASHTO Guide for the Development
    of Bicycle Facilities (20 January 2010)
    , [4.5Mb file]

  6. Guy
    Guy says:

    What about the steel or alluminum railings designed to keep us from running into the ditch. Running into the ditch is much less hazardous than running into that hard railing. Just think of the money that could be saved by not installing these railing on every path and sidewalk.

  7. Biking Fool
    Biking Fool says:

    It seems to me that most if not all the accidents people are reporting are due “RIDER ERROR”! It is too bad people were hurt but they shouldn’t be riding in large groups, to fast, running stop signs and RIDNG DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE TRAIL! I have been riding the West Orange Trail for over 10 years and never had a problem with bollards or any other inanimate objects. I have had problems with large groups and Lance Armstrong wannabe’s.

    Step back and take a look at the big picture, what happens when the bollards are gone? Maybe a car makes an accidental turn on a trail and takes out the child just learning to ride or the family out for a recreational ride together. Are you so self absorbed to think that the over priced bike and your need to do whatever you want on PUBLIC trails is the most important thing? Is that really what you want, is that bollard removal worth that? What is next, are you riding down the road the wrong way just because you have a road bike or will you all the blame the car that hits you when you run that next stop sign?

    Maybe, just maybe you all should pull the seat post out of your asses and take some personal responsibility for your own actions. I’d be willing to bet there are thousands of trail users that don’t get hurt while enjoying the trails for what they were attended, RECREATIONAL USE!

    Perhaps all the people that haven’t caused harm to themselves could start a website or write a blog about the rude and careless people on the trails. Why not a lawsuit, we can file suit against those damaging the bollards or how about suing the Parks Department for putting the trail out for public use to begin with. Its all their fault.

    We are lucky to have such great trails. Don’t let a handful of careless riders put us all at risk! Tell us your stories of the good times you’ve had on the trails. The rest of you take some safety classes; buy a good helmet and KEEP TO THE RIGHT!

    • Mighk Wilson
      Mighk Wilson says:

      You’re making quite an assumption saying that only fast pack riders are hitting bollards. I’ve seen incidents in which kids have hit them (they tend to be wobblier and impulsive).

      On the other hand, there are plenty of trails around the country without bollards, and as a bicycle planning professional for 17 years I have never heard of an incident of a motorist driving onto a trail and hitting a trail user.

      Traffic engineers would never put rigid posts in a roadway where motorists — who are protected with a mass of steel, energy-absorbing bumpers, seat belts and air bags — might hit them (even with bright colors and reflectors). But it’s OK to subject unprotected bicyclists to such risks.

    • Brad
      Brad says:

      Rusty (Biking Fool). Thank you for responding.
      I understand your frustration. It IS frustrating, and sometimes frightening when a flying train of spandex warriors comes bombing down the trail at 25 + miles an hour. But we’re really talking about two separate issues. Our research found that most bollard crashes occurred at slow speed, often from recreational riders who weren’t familiar with the trail, and usually because they were looking somewhere else, or the bollard was obscured from view. This is consistent with what has caused bollard injuries in other parts of the country. It turns out those spandex freight trains know where the bollards are and don’t hit them.

      I have forwarded to you, via email, a presentation I made recently to Orange County Parks & Rec that should shed some light on the subject.

      The fact is that most people who hit bollards aren’t fast, pack riders, but amateur, slow riders, talking with friends, or, more often, folks looking for cars as they cross a street, only to have a bollard on the far side “appear out of nowhere.”

      Another big problem you will see, as I did, is that parents often misjudge their clearance and “hook” their kiddie trailer wheels on bollards that they, themselves cleared.

      Current design standards for recreational trails warn that bollards are a hazard for all users, including rollerbladers and pedestrians, and cyclists – especially unsteady young cyclists, who are drawn to those things like magnets. They say that bollards should be avoided unless there is a documented history of car intrusion. And, it turns out, car intrusion hasn’t been a problem — even though cars are already able to gain access, even with the bollards, because of rules requiring access for emergency vehicles. In short – bollards are symbolic, at best, and are a documented health hazard that cause lifelong injuries to unsuspecting users, inlcuding children – but very rarely those fast cyclists you’re talking about.

      Please follow-up at the email I sent you if you have any additional questions. I’m not a weekend warrior spandex crazy. I’m just a guy who is encouraging more folks to ride and walk for fun, fitness and transportation. Like you, I love our trail network. I ride the West Orange Trail all the time (slowly) and am actively working with Orange and Seminole counties to expand the trail network (see my other post today (12/11) regarding our ride to AAA on Monday to protest their anti-trail stance. If you are a AAA member, I would urge you to join us, or at least write AAA and tell them how you feel.

      Best to you!

      Cheers,

      Brad Kuhn
      Director
      Bike/Walk Central Florida

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