Blockaides Inc.

500 Block fullres 017 copyBlockaides is leading the way in developing security products that protect pedestrians and streetscapes.

By the Editors of Construction Today

One of the biggest trends sweeping urban landscapes all across North America is making downtown areas more pedestrian-friendly. Dubbed “pedestrianization,” this school of urban planning has been utilized to redevelop city neighborhoods to promote more foot traffic and create spaces where people can gather. According to the proponents of this school of thought, pedestrian-friendly areas promote better health and fitness through walking or bike riding, enhance economic opportunities by creating more foot traffic around local businesses and reduce pollution by encouraging city-dwellers to leave their cars parked to complete their daily activities. 

 However, even though this approach takes a lot of people out of their cars, the fact remains that these pedestrian-friendly areas still are surrounded by busy urban streets. A major component of making neighborhoods pedestrian-friendly is making pedestrians feel safe to walk on sidewalks and through public squares. Protecting pedestrians and storefronts from errant vehicle traffic is a growing segment of the bollard and barrier industry, says safety consultant Rob Reiter, who notes that the company has become one of the leading voices in promoting the pedestrian-friendly urban environment and a leading supplier of products to make those environments safer for pedestrians and the public at large.

Extensive Experience

Blockaides brings to the marketplace extensive experience and advocacy in terms of creating pedestrian-friendly urban streetscapes.  A series of high-profile streetscape projects throughout North America have helped to elevate Blockaides’ profile in the safety and security industry, and also provided strong examples of how streetscapes can introduce more foot traffic while remaining safe for pedestrians.

Three of these prominent projects include bollard arrays in the downtown area of Kitchener, Ontario Canada, Chula Vista California, and Buffalo New York.  A significant factor in these design plans was the use of removable bollards manufactured by Blockaides. These removable bollards allow cities to create flexible parking or sidewalk areas as well as allowing for easier road closures.

“All of those have involved changing the way traffic works on a boulevard and changing the pedestrian experience by changing the interactions between vehicles and people,” says Blockaides General Manager Natalie Wackeen.

The most recent project, completed in 2015, was the 500 Block of Main project in Buffalo.  More than two hundred stainless steel removable bollards were installed in the street parking areas and on the sidewalk, with extra embedment sleeves installed to allow the bollards to be moved from one placement to another to accommodate street closures for special events or to alter vehicle traffic flows for whatever reason.

Contractor Mark Cerrone Inc. was the installation contractor for the bollards and overall contractor for the 500 Main project.  The care and attention to detail by the workers on the job paid off, with the layout creating the exact separation that the City required while the LED lighting in the bollards lends the whole area a warm, sophisticated and inviting ambiance.

Extensive use of stainless steel and efficient LED lighting components make Blockaides’ removable lighted bollards unique as well as very eco-friendly.  Energy consumption is low, while the use of stainless steel means that not only did much of the raw material come from recycled sources, at the end of the product life the material can be easily recycled once again.

Based in Placentia, Calif., Blockaides supplies safety equipment designed to protect people and property from vehicles. The company’s primary product lines include bollards, barriers and signage, and its customer base is a mix of contractors and property owners.  Originally part of a larger manufacturing company, Blockaides came into its own after the company’s new owners spun off the bollard and barrier segment of the business.

The Clear Edge

Wackeen says the advantages Blockaides brings to this niche market are numerous and give it a clear edge over other manufacturers in the bollard and barrier segment. For example, she says, Blockaides’ lean structure gives it a responsiveness that not many other manufacturers can offer to clients. “I think one of our distinguishing features is that we’re small and nimble,” Wackeen says. “The product line is very tight – there isn’t a lot of outdated legacy product out there.”

While high security-oriented manufacturers are finding their market softening with the ebb of Homeland Security funding, “pedestrian safety” provides many opportunities for manufacturers. That means there are many competing for the same business, but Wackeen says Blockaides excels in offering a product that is a step above the bare-bones products other manufacturers might be offering. In addition to standard fixed bollards, Blockaides also provides retractable bollards, lighted bollards and removable bollards. Wackeen says the company stands apart from its competitors through its ability to produce innovative products like its removable lighted bollard, which is one of few such products in the industry.

Looking into the future, Blockaides is excited about the new ASTM standard F3016, which is the first test standard for commercial bollards that provide barriers between people and cars. The new standard, approved in November 2014, will become the standard that architects, engineers and building departments will refer to. “In terms of pedestrianization and storefront safety, this is the biggest thing for the next several years,” Reiter says.

With the new standard driving greater adoption of bollards in safety and pedestrianization applications, Blockaides stands positioned to put its expertise to even greater use in years to come.

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