Crowd Control Barricades: The Basics
Portable event barriers, crowd control event barriers, portable fences, traffic barrels - barricades come in many different forms, but they all serve the same purpose: protecting people and drivers from potential dangers.
Barricades are so ubiquitous that you probably don’t even realize how often you see them.
On the freeway blocking an exit ramp under construction, at a concert keeping a performer away from their screaming fans, creating a streetside barrier at your school drop-off zone: barricades are everywhere and anywhere a large crowd or traffic needs to be controlled.
That’s because the ultimate goal of any barricade setup is to create a safe environment that reduces or eliminates entirely the likelihood of injuries or accidents with a combination of visual cues and physical barriers.
In fact, we’re so used to seeing barricades that in most cases businesses don’t even need crowd control signs to tell people what to do. Drivers instinctively know to slow down when they see a string of traffic barrels on the highway, and parade spectators or pedestrians know not to jump metal police barricades.
By familiarizing yourself with all the different types of crowd control barricades that are available, you will be able to figure out which barricades work best for a particular situation* and make smart decisions about the equipment your business or organization needs to run smoothly and effectively.
*Hot Tip: Traffic cones won’t stop a throng of college students rushing the field after a big game. Who knew?
Types of Barricades
There are three main types of barricades, and they are:
Pedestrian Barricades: Barricades that control crowds in areas where traffic is present or where large crowds are expected.
Traffic Barriers: Barricades that direct, stop, or reroute the flow of traffic, or cordon off dangerous areas of a construction site from pedestrians, workers, and drivers.
Expanding Length Barricades: Barricades that expand or retract to fit the size of an opening or exit, or create contiguous barriers that surround uniquely sized hazards.
Let’s take a look at each of them one at a time.
Businesses, schools, and public service organizations across the country all use pedestrian barricades as their primary method of crowd control.
How come? Because purchasing pedestrian barricades is infinitely more cost-effective than hiring employees to keep crowds in check.
You can set up permanent or portable pedestrian barricade installations, and choose between a variety of products at different price points.
There are four main categories of pedestrian barricades, with several different varieties within each group.
• Metal barricades (sometimes referred to as “police barricades”)
• Plastic barricades
• Vinyl event fencing
• Sports Panel PVC
Heavy Duty Metal interlocking metal barricades, otherwise known as bike rack or bicycle barricades are the most common type of pedestrian barricade. Heavy duty traditional barricades come in either hot dipped galvanized (weatherproofed) steel, or colored with a weatherproofed powder coating.
There are a few considerations when choosing these traditional barricades:
Flat Feet or Bridge Feet?
Do you need swing gates for your barricade set up?
Let's take each of these one at a time.
Flat Feet Barricades
If you’ve been to a parade, concert, or rally, you’ve probably seen flat feet barricades in action (if you haven’t, maybe get outside more?).
Flat feet barricades are made of heavy-duty steel, but are hollow in the center, making them lightweight, weather resistant, and structurally sound. Standard flat feet barricades come with hooks on either end that allow you to interlock several barricades together to create one long, linked barrier.
This type of barrier is best for flat city streets and sidewalks, as the flat feet are designed to grip FLAT SURFACES (pavement, concrete, flat lawn area etc.).
Bridge Feet Barricades
Bridge feet barricades are named because of the “feet” that grip the ground on both ends the barricade.
These barricades are ideal for events that take place on uneven ground - music festivals, outdoor movies, county fairs, etc. - because the feet are designed to grip jagged surfaces.
Like their flat-footed cousin, bridge feet barricades come in standard and heavy duty varieties.
Each bridge foot barricade comes with 2 sets of feet, one set of small bridge feet and one set of large bridge feet. The different sizes allow the barricade feet to go on top of one another for a perpendicular corner setup.
Barricade Swing Gates
Metal barricades interlock. That means that when a string of barricades is put together, they form one long, fortified line. Breaking that line by removing one of its parts can mess with the structure of a whole segment of a barricade line.
That’s why, in situations where you need to let people or objects through your barricade, it’s good to have barricade swing gates set up at various points on your barricade line.
Barricade swing gates allow space for small vehicles, machinery, or groups of people to pass through a barricaded area. They come in two sizes: standard width and extra wide.
Standard width barricade swing gates allow for the passage of small groups or public service officials.
Extra wide barricade swing gates allow for the passage of large groups, golf carts, loads of machinery, wheelchairs, and other ADA needs.
Plastic barricades are the ultimate solution for last-minute crowd control.
Most plastic barricades are made of lightweight, hollowed polyurethane plastic that is easy to move around, assemble, and take down. However, they can also be made heavier (read: sturdier) by filling them with water or sand.
When you don’t have much space in your event schedule for crowd control setup, plastic barricades are a huge time saver.
Plastic barricades come in a variety of bright color options. They’re great for sports facilities or universities because you can match their color to a team’s logo or school’s color.
Moreover, some plastic barricades feature 36” by 28.5” display areas. You can use these display panels as advertising space or adorn them with signs.
Vinyl Event Fencing
In situations where the aesthetics of an event are just as crucial as crowd control, like events at country clubs, golf courses, and weddings, vinyl event fencing makes for an elegant, practical solution.
As with metal and plastic barricades, vinyl event fencing interlocks to create a contiguous crowd control barrier. This type of fencing works best on uneven surfaces and comes with legs that swivel to brace the fencing on uneven terrain.
Sports Panel PVC Fencing
Sports panel PVC fences are used to create temporary barriers for parks, baseball and softball fields, sportsplexes, and schools. This type of barrier is particularly useful for smaller institutions with limited grounds space who use one field for a variety of events.
For example, a high school in a small town might only have one general use athletic field that they use to host multiple different types of events: football, soccer, and field hockey games, track and field meets, and school field days. With sports panel PVC fencing, they can adjust the size of the field to fit the event.
Traffic barricades, sometimes called road or safety barricades, control traffic flow. They’re used to create a safe zone around an accident site, notify workers of hazards on construction sites, create roadblocks, and make safe drop-off zones at schools.
Most traffic barricades are bright orange with white or reflective strips, making them visible during the day and at night.
There are six main types of traffic barricades:
A jersey barrier, sometimes referred to as a jersey wall, is a concrete or plastic barrier that separates lanes of traffic and minimizes vehicle damage when cars make contact with the barriers.
Jersey barriers also serve as signifiers to pedestrians, workers, and drivers that they’re in a construction zone.
Typically, plastic jersey barriers are weighed down with water or sand once they are placed in their desired location. The heavier a jersey barrier, the likelier it is to deflect vehicles when they make contact with the barricade.
Traffic Barrels (aka Drums or Construction Barrels)
When it isn’t possible to use jersey barriers, construction and traffic control crews use channelizer barrels.
These are the large barrels that look like oversized traffic cones, but are much heavier and larger, making them ideal for busy roadways.
Traffic barrels often have a rubber base that helps them stay upright during inclement weather or when nicked by a vehicle. Most also have a holder on top that can keep a reflective light visible to nighttime drivers.
When you need to put together a safety zone in a jiffy (or set up a kickball field at recess), traffic cones come in handy. These are the standard, cylindrically shaped orange cones that line school drop-off zones and minor potholes in your neighborhood.
The primary benefit of traffic cones is their portability. They’re lightweight, stackable, and take up significantly less space in your storage facility than larger traffic control options.
On the other hand, the major downside of using traffic cones is that they are highly susceptible to bad weather (and also wild parrots). One strong gust of wind could mean the loss of all your strategically placed cones, so be sure to check the weather forecast before using these outside.
A-Frame Barricades are shaped like architect’s workbenches: they’re framed with triangular joists on either end that are stood up by a plank holding the two frames together.
These barricades typically have orange and white or orange and reflective white stripes on their centerboard.
Usually, you see these near construction sites or sewer holes in urban areas. Because of their A-frame structure, a-frame barricades work particularly well on uneven ground (i.e., broken up concrete).
Type I, Type II, and Type III Barricades
Type I, II, and III barricades are all similar in that they are made by joining two panels and connecting them with hinges at the top.
Type I barricades have one reflective rail on either side of the frame, type II barricades have two reflective rails, and type III barricades have - you guessed it - three reflective rails.
The more reflective rails, the sturdier the barricade. So if you’ve had issues in the past keeping your Type I barricades upright, you may want to consider upgrading to Type II or Type III barricades.
These types of barricades are ideal for public works projects in parks, or on roadways in suburban and urban areas.
Expanding Length Barricades
Expanding length barricades come in two varieties: metal or plastic.
These are ideal for situations where you don’t know the exact length you need, or when you need to create a perimeter with strange angles and varying lengths.
Expanding length barricades are easy to set up and adjust because they come equipped with pull levers at either side designed for quick adjustments. Most often, these are used in factories, warehouses, cleaning areas, and construction sites.
Using Your Barricades
Now that you’re familiar with the different types of barricades, you can use this knowledge to optimize your traffic and crowd control efforts.
Not sure how to set up a barricade system? Read our post on How to Set Up Barricades.