Bristol cyclist suffers attack of the "camouflage" bollards

South Gloucestershire Council to "decamouflage" cast iron posts

by Mark Appleton   December 21, 2010  

Camouflage - great for Arctic hares, not so clever for bollards.jpg

A commuter cyclist had a lucky escape when he rode into a white bollard positioned on a white line on a bike path that forms part of his regular commute. In the natural world blending into the background is known as cryptic colouration, or camouflage to most of us.

It’s a useful defence mechanism for creatures seeking to foil predators but not such a good idea when it comes to street furniture which most of us want to avoid, especially when travelling at speed.

That seemingly self-evident truth appears to have escaped South Gloucestershire Council who recently erected cast iron bollards on a well-established cycle path and painted them the same colour as the solid white line on which they are positioned, the Bristol Evening Post reports.

The result was as inevitable as it was painful for cyclist Ian Redmond from Stroud who smashed into one of the newly-installed posts, having failed to spot it on his regular commute. Although not badly injured, Ian felt his accident was the result of a badly executed, health and safety over-reaction by the Council to a perceived problem.

"I've cycled that route to and from Parkway station hundreds of times over the years, and am used to carefully avoiding pedestrians, but came a cropper over this totally unnecessary hazard,” he said.

"The new bollards are solid cast iron and painted white, and so in any conditions of limited visibility, they are almost perfectly camouflaged against the white line separating the cycle-way from the footpath.

"As a biologist, I am familiar with cryptic colouration, which works well for Arctic hares and polar bears, but I'd never considered it a suitable characteristic for traffic bollards."

He feels in addition to the colour, the choice of material for the bollards is misguided, as is the whole idea of installing them at all.

"This winter, people will be cycling this way in fog, rain, sleet and – worst of all – snow,” Ian told the Evening Post.

"They will often be weaving around gaggles of commuters, maybe in the dark – clearly it is only a matter of time before there is a serious accident.

"I urge the council to remove these bollards, which serve no useful purpose.

"But if they must have them, surely they should be clearly visible in all weathers and ideally made of a flexible material – traffic bollards on roads are designed to minimise damage to cars – why don't cyclists get the same consideration?"

A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson told the Evening Post: "The bollards were installed in response to requests from passengers travelling between the Ministry of Defence and Parkway and Abbeywood stations, to help safely separate cyclists and pedestrians who use this path.

"It is planned to add high-visibility reflective plates to either side of the bollards, plus two contrasting colour bands, to help them stand out even more clearly. These additional measures will be added as soon as possible."

Let's hope they hurry up: a white bollard on a snowy white cycle path is going to take some spotting… like a hungry polar bear waiting for its prey.

10 user comments

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The supports for road signs that are in the middle of road cycle paths near me are painted tarmac grey which always struck me as unwise.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
21st December 2010 - 20:29

1 Like

i have to ask why the bollards are there? Do we really need as much street furniture as we seem to have acquired?

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1466 posts]
22nd December 2010 - 13:36

1 Like


You've forgotten what a terrible and carefree lot we cyclists are - we desperately need protecting against ourselves and hitherto unrecognised dangers. Wink

Besides, it makes someone at a council somewhere feel good about having prevented an accident which may not have happened yet, but could happen in the future. Causing an accident in the process is irrelevant.

Naked Seven
Orange Kish

posted by graham [17 posts]
22nd December 2010 - 14:00

1 Like

mrmo wrote:
i have to ask why the bollards are there?

It says in the article its to protect the pedestrians, most likely from unconsiderate cycle commuters (the ones you get now we have got them out of their cars) carving them up in an effort to get where they are going 2 seconds earlier.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [429 posts]
22nd December 2010 - 14:19

1 Like

"A South Gloucestershire Council spokesperson said: "The bollards were installed in response to requests from passengers travelling between the Ministry of Defence and Parkway and Abbeywood stations, to help safely separate cyclists and pedestrians who use this path."

-- because shared-use paths are stupid.

Let's get this straight: the bollard is a *deliberate* measure to get in our way. It's not a "whoops, is that a bother?" issue like the ones to stop chavs racing up and down in stolen Saxos. It's there *to get in the way*.

Get out there over Chrimbo with a can of orange paint. Or better yet, a pickaxe and a bag of drymix.

posted by andygates [12 posts]
22nd December 2010 - 15:10

1 Like

The point of such street furniture is always to be seen - isnt it? Confused But should we not be charitable at this time of year? Forgive them - they know not what they do.


posted by alg [135 posts]
23rd December 2010 - 12:01

1 Like

We were going to nip over there and get a picture to give the artic hare a but of a rest, but what with the snow we weren't sure we'd find it before it found us

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4169 posts]
23rd December 2010 - 12:22

1 Like

Why not copy the photo from the Evening Post - you've copied the majority of the article! Wink
Cute hare though, and cunning caption! Is there a polar bear hidden in there somewhere too?

One thought - if the council want to seperate walkers and cyclists, why not put a fence or other barricade up? One bollard doth not a barrier make!

posted by Myriadgreen [95 posts]
23rd December 2010 - 12:41

1 Like

I think there is more than one bollard, there's a line of them

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4169 posts]
23rd December 2010 - 14:44

1 Like

Cumbria Council painted a steel barrier across an unlite cycle path battle ship grey against a grey tarmac back ground with the enevitable consequences in my case a broken wrist, and I was not the only one to fall foul of it either.

I bet they would'nt put one across a road Thinking


Simon Walker's picture

posted by Simon Walker [13 posts]
4th January 2011 - 16:13