Nice, Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, Barcelona, London – what links these cities? Yes, the attacks which shake the world. Currently, European cities are fighting very differently against terrorist’s car attacks. Concrete blocks, sandbags or a road blocker – these are the options chosen by the authorities of European countries to protect the population against these attacks, favoured by the Islamic State.
The United Kingdom
The country, targeted by three attacks of this type in 2017, equipped several bridges of the capital with gates to prevent vehicles from climbing on the sidewalk, as was the case on the London Bridge. At Buckingham Palace, the time for the changing of the Guard has been changed and some access routes closed to minimize the risk of attacks. Several voices, including in the House of Lords, are calling for greater identity checks when leasing vehicles.
After the 7 April 2017 battering of the Ram, which killed 5 people, the city of Stockholm had concrete lions in its pedestrian streets. At the scene of the attack, the town hall has also installed blocks of granite across to constrain the vehicles to roll slowly. It has finally ordered 40 new concrete lions that will weigh heavier: three tons against 900 kg currently.
After the tragedy of 19 December 2016, which had left 12 dead in Berlin, concrete blocks had been installed to protect the Christmas markets, but they have since been largely removed. Some still survive in front of emblematic places, including Potsdamer Platz, and near embassies. Unlike its neighbours, the country has not sent the army on its streets after being targeted by an attack on its territory.
Police say the “big gatherings” are secured with concrete blocks and fences, as was the case for the Christmas markets on the Champs Elysées in Paris or in the centre of Strasbourg. But these devices remain temporary. On the pedestrianized piers of the Seine in Paris, access is left open to allow access for emergency vehicles, but the passage is hampered by police vehicles. The Ministry of the Interior has asked the prefectures to deploy anti-terrorists and filtering devices during the big events of the summer period.
We could see that the European cities try to be ready when the Islamic State will appear again. We could do it with concrete blocks or, better, with road-blockers which are so effective and could be opened even in 1.5 seconds. Because safety of life should be the most important for us.