The downtown bollards have struck again. And again.
Two more vehicles were victims of the unforgiving red bells this week when a trailer overturned Tuesday and a truck got caught Wednesday but somehow managed to get unstuck, which is a rarity.
There are two prevailing thoughts when it comes to these bollards.
Thought No. 1 is the bollards are located on sidewalks and people should not be driving on sidewalks. Therefore, if you hit a bollard and do thousands of dollars of damage to your vehicle or trailer, it’s your own fault. Stay off the sidewalk.
Thought No. 2 is the bollards are an overly harsh lesson for motorists who are guilty of nothing more than trying to turn right. Many of these motorists are unfamiliar with our downtown area and don’t realize they’re about to encounter tight driving conditions which are made unnecessarily tighter by bollards placed directly at the edge of sidewalks.
I’m not a fan of the bollards and think they should be removed so I subscribe to theory No. 2.
My main argument is this. Our roads should be accommodating to motorists, not part of the problem. For folks who say people wouldn’t have trouble with the bollards if they learned to drive and kept their vehicle off the sidewalk, let me point to our friend the guardrail.
Roads all across America are lined with guardrails as a way to protect motorists. If people could be trusted to always keep their cars on the road, there would be no need for guardrails, ever.
But since we know people will, on occasion, leave the road, guardrails are placed to keep vehicles from plunging down ravines. If a motorist plunges down an embankment and is killed, we don’t say, “Well that never would have happened if he learned to drive and kept his car on the road.” Instead, a guardrail is placed in that spot to protect others.
But bollards are the antithesis of a guardrail. Instead of helping motorists when they make a mistake, the bollards make the mistake worse. It’s not much different than lining the side of the roads with spike strips and telling everyone who complains of a flat tire, “Well it never would have happened if you just learned to drive and stayed on the road.”
From what I can tell, city officials must think downtown would be like a game of pinball with cars bouncing off buildings if the bollards were removed.
I see the bollards as making a bad situation even worse. The incident on Tuesday where the trailer overturned and clipped a pickup in the other lane shows what I’ve feared for years – that other motorists are placed in danger when trucks get stuck on bollards.
It was three or four years ago when the trailer of an 18-wheeler overturned after getting stuck on a bollard by the library which would have crushed occupants in another vehicle had one been nearby.
I don’t think the city needs to be in the business of setting traps for motorists.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.