Walmart parking lot bollard gives the 11 ft 8in bridge a run for its money

I work a lot at a particular marina. It has a gate that requires a card to activate. The gate is about 8 foot tall with a big sign that says gate key required.

Entering is not a problem exiting seems to be difficult but I suspect that has something to do with the bar/restaurant on site.

The latest was couple months ago, someone was leaving the marina and pulled a full on A Team exit removing the sliding gate/fence and the card reader stand. I think maybe alcohol was involved. That person kept right on driving as if nothing happened.

Things like the bollard or the sliding gate I’m familiar with are more common the we all think. People just don’t pay attention. I mean scraping the side of your car against a pole in a parking lot is gonna happen occasionally but some of those photos required speed that should never be driven in a parking lot filled with pedestrians.


Infinite Bollards is my indie band name. Should it be taken, I’d go with Bollards for Bollards.


safety only for those inside the cage. danger for those outside the cage.


Many of those crashes do not appear to be survivable-- because the life of a suicide bomber is not a paramount concern. These same priorities filter into civilian design

Curiously, the Daily mail seems to fret about this quite a bit.


Should have queued that up to about 4:10


The thing about perception in general is that we don’t really accurately perceive what’s around us at all times. Mostly we get bits of data and fill in the blanks with memory and imagination. The upshot for driving is that we aren’t looking and assessing; mostly we’re imagining what’s in front of us and driving into it. If we don’t imagine a bollard, we’ll only perceive one given sufficient sensory evidence. Quite often, “sufficient sensory evidence” is a bang or crunch noise.


This is just the thing for the World Bollard Association. (I sure hope they’ll start a Mastodon account soon.)


Oooh! @wazroth - this should be on the bingo card.


Paramount Network Dan GIF by Yellowstone




That dark background ain’t helping!


Agreed, and the visual clutter in a parking lot is intense.


In the place that I live, there’s a description for that: AWAF*.

*Alcohol Was A Factor

There’s a group that sells t-shirts with this moniker, and does good business.


Walmart is under different, less onerous constraints than the bridge owners.

Pay the fellow, Edmund, and damn his impudence. — Lord Percy Percy


That was my first question also. Look at that damage on those cars. In the linked article some are even rolled. You have to hit a bollard with substantial speed to do that kind of damage.

I think this is not a coincidence. The people paying so little attention that they can hit a 4’ neon green pole are also driving 10x as fast as they should be. Or impairment may explain this as well. Meth, alcohol, [why not both gif]


Having read @jerwin’s post, I am 100% going with A-pillar blind spots. It fits in perfectly and there’s other circumstantial factors that definitely contribute:

  • The bollard is in the right spot to be hidden behind the A-pillar. Even with the u-post coming out the top, and even with the green cover, it’s still likely to be substantially hidden behind the left A-pillar for a vehicle in the right lane, especially given larger vehicles or ones with side-curtain airbags.
  • The only ground marking is the yellow hashing – no curb, no island – so if the bollard isn’t in sight there’s a visual cue that suggests open roadway (due to the contiuity of the hashing). Bollard or no, if there were a curb there, drivers would be more likely to pick up the cue and infer the location of (and thus avoid) the corner.
  • The reason people are hitting it so dramatically on left turns is in part, I suspect, because they’re waiting for an opening in a busy perimeter road. When a hole opens up in the pedestrian or opposing vehicle traffic, they take off in a hard start to try to make it through the hole.
  • Human factors. Human decisionmaking is (as @jerwin’s shared article again points out) highly contextual and just-in-time. Once that bollard is hidden behind the A-pillar, it disppears from your visuospatial sketchpad in a matter of 3-4 seconds. Unless you have had particular reason for that bollard to stand out to you before it gets hidden (and not just “oh look, a bright yellow/green bollard that might destroy my car if I hit it,” fascinatingly enough), you will literally forget it exists if it’s not actively in your field of vision and it won’t enter your decisionmaking calculation.

Are the drivers at fault? Well, yeah, in part – you probably should avoid a rushed start into a left turn, especially in a parking lot – but this is one of those things where we’re setting drivers up for failure. Design needs to take into account the limits of human cognition and awareness. The system design itself is also at fault. (Yes, yes, this is also true for everyone’s favorite bridge.)

To be sure, in light of the safety and structural changes to cars, we probably need to update our driver’s ed practices to teach people to deliberately look around the A-pillar when making a turn.

Genuinely curious: did anyone get taught to do this in driving school? I sure didn’t. (Though when I upgraded from an old car with a small A-pillar to a more modern car with side-curtain airbags, I found that I had to peek around the A-pillar around several turns in my neighborhood because I no longer had visibility intot he oncoming lane.)


I think the A-pillar argument is a good one, but it still doesn’t explain why they are driving so fast that they can roll their car on this.

It’s also worth noting that the bollard is in the middle of a diagonal stripe-painted area of substantial size. So people are speeding and disregarding the lines.

At some point it is no longer the A-pillar’s fault.


For album and song names, you could use the titles of the books and stories of J.G. Bollard.


I see what you did there.


Well, yes, people cut corners on flat pavement. It’s a thing. It’s not necessarily a wise thing but it is an expected aspect of human driving behavior. A well-designed system should to be tolerant of human behavior to the extent possible.

A number of years ago, Raleigh put in a big new roundabout on a major street. After maybe a year or two of causing havoc with drivers, they redesigned it, since it was resulting in a constant parade of traffic snarls and fender benders. The choice quote from the article, attributed to the city’s chief transportation engineer, was:

When you design stuff, you have to assume drivers are going to obey the traffic signs and markings.

I found this statement utterly shocking from someone who designs systems for the public. Here’s the thing – a key threshold concept in systems design: When you design a system, you need to design it for the users you have, not the users you wish you had. When you make a system that has a built-in failure point due to limitations in human factors, humans are going to fail. Because they are limited.

Now, if some individuals never succumb to this problem – great for them! But another threshold concept from systems design is that other people are not you. More importantly, other people are not inferior versions of you. A well-designed system tolerates the varied limits of human capability, and it’s clear that this system does this. Unlike the 11-foot-8 bridge, there are a number of obvious, relatively low-cost fixes that would go a long way to mitigating this failure. I imagine the main reason this hasn’t happened already is that the costs being incurred here are largely not being borne by the system maintainers.

One of the things about error analysis is that it’s never just one thing’s fault. Here, it’s clearly an interplay between the physical configuration of the bollard and the cars, and patterns of human behavior – regardless of whether those patterns are in some sense dysfunctional in this context. And it’s waaay easier to change the physical configuration of the system than it is to alter human behavior.