Inclusive Cycle Infrastructure Guide: Vehicle access restriction bollards


The minimum standard of infrastructure that’s considered acceptable for people walking, wheeling and cycling is changing rapidly. This is really good news for Disabled people and others who need improved accessibility, as the changes mean that new and refurbished public spaces should become much more usable for us in future years.

But we know it’s a lot to take in for people involved in creating schemes – and there are both legitimate concerns and understandable misconceptions that we need to talk about.

At Wheels for Wellbeing we’re releasing a series of guidance sheets for local authorities, NGOs, other organisations involved in decisions about walking, wheeling and cycling schemes and for anyone with an interest in active travel infrastructure. Hopefully, these guidance sheets will help explain the reasoning behind different aspects of accessible infrastructure design.

These guidance sheets are aligned with our Guide to Inclusive Cycling (5th edition due autumn 2023). They may be printed, electronically distributed or quoted provided credit is given to Wheels for Wellbeing.

Download the vehicle access restriction bollards guidance sheet as a Word document

Download the vehicle access restriction bollards guidance sheet as a pdf

When to use bollards:

Bollards may be used when other measures to prevent dangerous vehicle access have proven ineffective:

All access controls including bollards are obstacles that make a path less safe and less accessible for legitimate users.

Bollards spaced with an absolute minimum air gap of 1.5m and straight approach will prevent vehicle access:

  • All modern cars are over 1.6m wide.
  • Cycles and other mobility aids can be up to 1.2m wide.
  • People being guided by assistants or assistance dogs, people in groups (including accompanying children), with pushchairs and carrying shopping can need even more width.
  • Design and maintenance (vegetation/litter) must ensure usable access widths never drop below 1.5m.
  • Bollards should only ever be installed on straight, level, smooth, sealed surfaces.

Using bollards:

Photo shows a cycle access across a pavement onto a residential street. All surfaces are grey asphalt. There are three black bollards with bright yellow reflective bands spaced with 1.5m gaps between them positioned near the edge of the drop kerb. There is a bicycle standing in one of the gaps between the bollards. It has no rider- it is probably the photographer's bike.

Bollards must be at least 1m high, contrast with their surroundings & have reflective bands for visibility.

Bollards must have minimum 1.5m straight-line access widths, assuming 4m turning radius for larger cycles and mobility aids

Drawing of separate cycle path and pavement going into the distance. A pavement crosses the cycle path at the front of the image. There are wide-spaced bollards preventing vehicle access. Title reads "Design concepts for safe, accessible active travel spaces". Captions read "Pedestrians and cyclists separated Planting, walls & fences clear of paths and sight lines Min 1.5m gaps (measured bollard handle to kerb here) Flush kerbs Pedestrian priority on crossings Min 4m radius turning circles"

Legal & guidance position on access barriers:

Equality Act (2010):

These duties are anticipatory: All reasonable adjustments to make a space equitably accessible for Disabled people legally must be taken without any Disabled person having to ask for them.

Section 20: Requires those responsible for a space to anticipate and make reasonable adjustments to enable Disabled people access with no substantial disadvantage compared to non-Disabled people. This explicitly includes including altering and removing physical features which would otherwise exclude Disabled people.

It is not permitted to require a Disabled person to go a longer way around, ask for assistance or traverse a space much more slowly than a non-Disabled person would have to due to a physical barrier that could be removed.

Section 149 Public Sector Equality Duty: Requires public authorities to advance equality of opportunity for all people with protected characteristics, including Disabled people.

This goes beyond removing and minimising disadvantages, and additionally includes taking steps to promote equality by actively enabling Disabled people to participate in public life and activities, especially where Disabled participation is disproportionately low (e.g. active travel).

Cycle Infrastructure Design LTN 1/20:

Section 1.6 summary principle 16: “Access control measures… should not be used. They reduce the usability of a route for everyone, and may exclude people riding nonstandard cycles and cargo bikes. They reduce the capacity of a route as well as the directness and comfort. Schemes should not be designed in such a way that access controls, obstructions and barriers are even necessary”.

More considerations:

Photo of shared-use cycle path surfaced with grey asphalt. In the middle of the path is a grey concrete bollard approx 60cm high.

Small bollards with low contrast and no reflective bands are hard to see, making them a dangerous obstacle for path users

Photo shows a cycle path surface covered in fallen leaves. There is a bollard on the left side of the photo, with a fence on the right. Vegetation growth through the fence including a long bramble strand and nettles have closed the access gap between bollard and fence for many Disabled users and anyone unable to push the plants out of their way.

Vegetation growth and debris on paths will block access without careful design and sufficient maintenance.

References/Further reading/Resources:

  1. Equality Act (2010):
  2. LTN 1/20 Cycle infrastructure design:
  3. Wheels for Wellbeing Guide to Inclusive Cycling (4th edition, 2020):

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