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Originally, bollard was the name given to the short, thick, iron post mounted on a wharf to which a ship tied up when it docked. The British began using the same term to describe a post, connected by rope to other similar posts, to divert automobile traffic from a road or lawn. 

In a gasoline station, bollard is the term applied to the heavy protective posts set in the driveway at the ends of pump islands to prevent vehicles from coming in contact with the dispensers or other pump-island fixtures. Bollards are also used to protect aboveground storage tanks.