CBC Video – The Environmenal Cost of Drive-thrus


The environmental cost (Runs 3:05)

Drive-thru bans a wave of the future?

By Julie Sturgeon Contributing writer

15 Feb 2008

Sunset magazine has awarded it “Best Downtown in the West,” thanks to its atmosphere of small shops, fed by happy pedestrians, many of whom arrived on these sidewalks via mass transportation or bicycle. It’s a Tree City USA community where big box stores are shoved to the suburb fringes.

And, since 1982, drive-thrus have been banned in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

“The owners of a McDonald’s franchise came to the city council during public comment in recent times to ask for drive-thrus, and the council majority refused to agenda the discussion,” said eight-year council member Christine Mulholland. “I don’t see any encouragement or direction to make a change to our current ordinance.”

Other pockets of communities in Southern California and Canada have begun to take up this same cry, citing a need to reduce greenhouse gases and pedestrian safety concerns.

Officials in chic areas such as Buckhead in Atlanta and Alexandria, Va., have floated the idea as part of an overall restoration design. But no matter the reasoning, “it’s pretty unanimous here — we do not think it’s a good idea,” said Mike Vermillion, the Friendly and Fast Platform leader for Burger King franchises.

For starters, most Burger King units generate between 50 and 60 percent of their daily total sales averages at the drive-thru. That’s just the tip of the iceberg: The National Restaurant Association’s 2007 Quickservice Restaurant Survey reveals that 89 percent of operators believe their drive-thrus will represent an even larger portion of sales in 2008. That alone speaks volumes for its value to the American consumer, insiders argue. Don’t forget, these are the same consumers demanding car manufacturers install more cup holders, Vermillion points out.

Indeed, at a meeting in San Luis Obispo, one disabled woman spoke about her experiences driving to another town to eat at a Carl’s Jr., as getting in and out of her vehicle was such a physical commitment. Mulholland also hears from parents frustrated with the hassle of unbuckling children from their car seats. She’s sympathetic, but firm.

“We are all talking about obesity issues, so the idea of getting the kids out of the car and moving probably isn’t a bad idea. I would encourage more pedestrian friendliness in the way people build their towns,” she said.

And while it’s not possible to measure a town’s business loss from drive-thru bans, a case can be made that local governments that take this tack lose sales taxes today and business investment tomorrow, said Craig Prusher, Burger King’s vice president for government relations. After all, QSR units sans drive-thrus require bigger parking lots to accommodate customers, which requires more money to buy property in the first place.

Are we choking on drive-thrus?

But the biggest battle tends to center on the ecology front, even though definitive studies and statistics from the EPA are MIA. Mulholland admits a California Polytechnic State University student presented a large study a few years ago as part of his argument to rock the status quo, saying the number of low-emission vehicles on the roads today make the drive-thru ban a dinosaur. Yet she can’t confirm this is even why the town kicked drive-thrus to the curb. According to the records in her office, the reason behind the ordinance approval is “unknown.”

Such vagueness doesn’t surprise Jonpaul Leski, president and CEO of Geneva Enterprises in Atlanta, which owns seven Hardee’s units. He holds a doctorate degree in technology, and has worked behind the scenes consulting on how to measure things such as emissions and chemical impacts. His digging hasn’t pinpointed any definitive connection between drive-thrus and higher greenhouse gas emissions. Ditto for Prusher.

If there were studies that suggest a greater carbon emission from waiting in the drive-thru as opposed to stopping and restarting the car, I’d be interested in seeing them. I have not,” he said.

On the other hand, that probably doesn’t matter — scientists look at an overall measurement that would include everything dumped into the atmosphere.

“They say a little piece of this and a little piece of that adds to X, so everything helps,” Leski said. The federal government backs this approach, doling out funding and grants to states that devote themselves to combat global warming. “So if the state of California, for example, will get X millions of dollars if it pushes for change, well of course it’s going to do whatever it takes,” he said.

But it’s not an EPA struggle that has Leski’s attention. That honor belongs to the budding fight between smokers and nonsmokers in Illinois, where it is illegal to light up within 15 feet of a door or window. Cigarette smoke has rolled into units via the drive-thru, putting owners in danger of paying a $2,500 fine for every occurance. So far, managers are hoping courtesy signs asking drivers not to smoke will help, but the grumbling about personal rights and privacy has begun.

“If somebody said, let’s ban drive-thrus nationwide, that would cripple the QSR industry,” Leski said. “But I think we better have a Plan B in place, because this is creeping up on us.” He advocates restaurant owners and franchisees rally together to brainstorm new promotional campaigns to entice people inside, to pave an alternative relationship should the drive-thru one day disappear.

Prusher isn’t anxious. “We will monitor the situation of course, but at this point, it doesn’t look like there’s a national movement. For that reason alone, it would be hard to say this is something we view as picking up a lot of steam.”

Drive-thrus offer food for thought

Local News

Drive-thrus offer food for thought



Posted 15 hours ago

Drive-thru businesses are a convenience for thousands of Sarnians and not as bad for the environment as some might believe, says a report going to city council Monday.

At the urging of Coun. Anne Marie Gillis, staff reviewed the pros and cons of a ban or moratorium on drive-thru operations including fast food restaurants, coffee shops, banks, car washes and lube centres.

Gillis has suggested the public is ready for a ban because of its sensitivity to air quality issues. All that engine idling while customers wait for a coffee can’t be good for the environment, she said.

But a staff report does not support a ban. Instead, policy planner Nancy Bourgeois suggests council approve new urban design guidelines that make drive-thrus more environmentally friendly.

In the report, Bourgeois cites an air quality assessment of Tim Hortons restaurants that was done by an independent consultant in Guelph last year.

Three Tim Hortons with drive-thrus and one without were monitored for emissions. Total emissions were less at a typical, high-volume Tim Hortons with a drive-thru and parking lots, than they were at the site without a drive-thru.

Bourgeois suggests that council consider numerous regulatory provisions including improved site designs to separate the drive-thru lane from the parking area.

She also has numerous suggestions about how to make drive-thrus safer for the public and faster so that traffic moves along.

“The industry needs to look at how long it takes to get through a drive-thru,” Mayor Mike Bradley said.

“I think staff has a good solution. No moratorium, but steps that should be taken for better care and control of drive-thrus.

“There are 45 drive-thrus in Sarnia and people like to use them,” Bradley said. “I think this is a more balanced approach.

The environment is a significant issue and we should push business to plan better.”

He noted that parents with small children, the elderly and the disabled have spoken out in support of drive-thrus.

The issue goes before council at Monday’s regular meeting, which starts at 4 p. m.

Canadian drivers concerned about idling and air pollution: poll

Mike De Souza ,  Canwest News Service

Published: Monday, June 16, 2008

OTTAWA – Many Canadian motorists are concerned about causing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, but they appear to be confused about how they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change by shutting off their engine, a new government survey has revealed.

Overall, 97 per cent of respondents to the Strategic Counsel poll, conducted last fall for Natural Resources Canada, said that they agreed with the statement that “each member of the community has a responsibility for protecting our environment.” The poll also revealed that 89 per cent believed that “idling a vehicle contributes significantly to air pollution” and 76 per cent believe that “idling a vehicle contributes significantly to climate change.”

However, when asked how long they should keep their engine idling without shutting it off, only 26 per cent said 30 seconds or less, compared with 44 per cent who said more than one minute. Only 49 per cent of respondents said that they agreed that “shutting off and restarting a vehicle when it is stopped uses less gasoline than if you leave it running.”

The poll surveyed 1,000 Canadians in the Ontario cities of Mississauga and Sudbury between Nov. 23 and Dec. 11, 2007, and is considered accurate for each of the two regions within 4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Although the results cannot be extrapolated with certainty to determine attitudes and behaviour across Canada, a senior government official said that the findings were consistent with previous research.

“Overall, the survey results demonstrate that drivers’ behaviours often seem to contradict their attitudes with respect to vehicle idling,” said the Strategic Counsel report.

“On one hand, they tend to show a high degree of concern for the environment and air quality in their communities and they also understand the links between vehicle idling and air pollution. At the same time, however, many nevertheless leave their vehicle idling for lengthy periods in certain situations and will agree with statements that may be used to justify idling their vehicle, especially in the winter.”

Catherine Ray, who has researched the issue at Natural Resources Canada for more than a decade, said she is encouraged by the changing attitudes of Canadian motorists, and expects eventually to see a shift in behaviour once people understand the impact of their driving habits and the importance of shutting off an engine on a car that is parked for more than 60 seconds.

“I think it’s always important when we talk about being environmental (to) go for the low-hanging fruit,” said Ray, a senior manager at the Office of Energy Efficiency. “This isn’t tough to do: Turn your engine off, and (if) you can make a difference by doing something as easy as turning your key, (then) why not?”

Ray said the government also plans to raise awareness through an Internet “idle-free zone” that is expected to be posted online by the end of the week at idling.gc.ca. The government does not recommend that people turn their engine off and on if they are stuck in traffic, she added. But if all Canadian drivers in light duty vehicles collectively removed an average of three minutes of idling per day, she said they would save 630 million litres of fuel, prevent 1.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere, which is the equivalent of taking 320,000 cars off the road.

Pierre Sadik, a senior policy adviser at the David Suzuki Foundation, said that driving behaviour is also likely to improve as the price of gas continues to rise.

“I think the lesson from this survey is that ultimately the pocketbook will speak even louder than Canadians’ concern about the environment,” said Sadik.


With files from Andrew Mayeda (Ottawa Citizen).

Developer Opposes Drive-thru Pollution


Man fuming over drive-through pollution


Developer Dave De Sylva poses at a Markham Tim Hortons, June 13, 2008.

Speak Out: Drive-through pollution


The average idling time observed:

3.43 minutes at Tim Hortons

2.61 minutes at McDonald’s

5.61 minutes at Wendy’s

Projected over a year at all 29 drive-throughs in Markham, this adds up to 21,759,152 minutes of estimated total idling time, using 435,185 litres of fuel and releasing 118 tonnes of carbon dioxide. To offset that emission, 5,844 trees would have to be planted.


Its analysis of carbon dioxide emissions, conducted by RWDI Air Inc., shows:

26.5 kilograms per hour
of carbon dioxide emissions at a drive-through location in the morning rush hour.

35.1 kilograms per hour
at a non-drive-through with a small, congested parking lot.

30.5 kilograms per hour
at a non-drive-through with a larger parking lot.

Test slams bad air outside coffee shops, fast-food joints; but Tim’s sees it through different window

Jun 18, 2008 04:30 AM

John Spears
city hall bureau

Dave de Sylva has nothing against coffee and burger restaurants: “I sign all kinds of real estate deals at Tim Hortons,” says the Markham developer.

It’s the drive-through service he can’t stand.

De Sylva hates drive-through queues so much that he decided to calculate the gas burned and tonnes of carbon dioxide spewed at Markham’s drive-through establishments.

His campaign against them started a few years ago, when he noticed that many coffee shops paid more attention to car driver customers at the window than customers who walked through the door.

It annoyed him, and he decided to do some analysis, starting with plotting the location of all of Markham’s drive-ins: Burger and doughnut restaurants, banks, drug stores – anything with a drive-through window. He found 29.

Then in April and May he dispatched employee Alison Christou to do the painstaking work of counting cars at sample drive-through lines and measuring their progress with a stop-watch.

“I was amazed at what I found,” says de Sylva.

By his calculation, which was based on a formula used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the cars lined up at Markham’s 29 drive-through establishments uselessly burn 435,185 litres of gasoline a year. That’s enough to let an average car circle the globe 85 times.

As for greenhouse gas emissions, de Sylva calculates the damage at 118 tonnes of carbon dioxide and other pollutants.

“It’s my atmosphere as much as anybody else’s,” says de Sylva.

His objective on drive-throughs is simple: “I think they should stop them.”

De Sylva acknowledges that for many of his three-plus decades as a property developer, he built low-density suburban subdivisions, the kind that spawned the car culture that led to drive-through service.

He has now turned to developing higher density, multiple-unit buildings with features like geothermal heating, rooftop solar arrays and wind-powered water heaters.

Nick Javor, a spokesperson for Tim Hortons, says de Sylva’s analysis is flawed.

Tim Hortons hired its own consulting firm, RWDI AIR Inc., to calculate emissions for cars in the drive-through lane and the parking lot at its own stores.

That study – which compared the emissions caused by drive-through idling compared with those produced when a car crawls through a parking lot, manoeuvres into a space, stops, restarts and crawls back out – concluded there is “no air quality benefit to the public from eliminating drive-throughs.”

It found that hourly emissions for locations with drive-throughs were lower than for those with only parking lots; it was the same result with small congested lots and larger free-flowing ones.

In any case, Javor says, customers want drive-throughs. Tim Hortons outlets with drive-through service do 40 to 50 per cent of their business through the window, he adds.

De Sylva says he’s sent his analysis to Markham and several other Greater Toronto municipalities, but hasn’t had any response.

Markham Councillor Erin Shapero says she’s aware of de Sylva’s report and sympathetic to his concerns.

“We have enough” drive-throughs, she agreed. “We don’t need any more.”

Markham staff have been asked to draft a policy on drive-throughs, which Shapero expects to be brought forward this fall.

Toronto already has a policy: Drive-throughs aren’t banned, but they must comply with rules on pedestrian access, screening, noise barriers and lane configurations that can be prohibitive in many neighbourhoods.

Mississauga also approved new guidelines earlier this year.

Councillor George Carlson, who heads Mississauga’s environment committee, says the city took an “unenthusiastic view of drive-ins” in setting the rules.

Restrictions were needed to prevent them from blossoming everywhere, Carlson said:

“Out where I live on the edge of town, some people would use their cars to drive through a funeral home if they could.”

His concerns are social as well as environmental: “I think drive-throughs tend to make suburban life even more isolated and less interactive with your neighbours.”

Carlson says it’s important not to focus too single-mindedly on drive-throughs as fuel wasters.

“If you added up all the unnecessary stop signs and delayed red lights that we have throughout the system, you’d probably be burning up a hundred times more fuel than drive-throughs.”

London’s fast-food fuss

London’s fast-food fuss

Sun, June 22, 2008

COVER STORY: The debate rages about whether restricting drive-throughs will help the environment or just hinder parents and the disabled


Fast food hasn’t caused such a fuss in London since McDonald’s opened its first eastern Canadian outlet here decades ago.

The city’s drive-through debate ramped up last week after a packed public meeting about a city hall move to restrict drive-throughs was called off and an industry campaign to stop that move hit the streets.

Now, Londoners are chewing over a city staff proposal to limit where drive-throughs can be built.

And it seems some people don’t want the city messing with their Mickey Ds.

Standing outside a McDonald’s yesterday, Mark Fillipi said he doesn’t support the idea of a ban.

“I don’t think it makes too much sense. People aren’t going want to park their cars” instead of using drive-throughs, he said. “Starting your car causes the same pollution as idling.”

At a Chinese buffet restaurant, Judy Berkelmans said she does not see a problem with drive-throughs.

“I don’t think there’s any proof that it’s going to make emissions worse. You see people leaving their car running to go inside and that’s just as bad,” she said.

“It’s like the smoking thing, telling people where they can smoke outside. If I don’t want to smell other people’s smoke I walk away. If you don’t like drive-throughs, don’t use them.”

The city proposal doesn’t call for shutting down drive-throughs, but prohibiting them in intensive business and pedestrian-oriented areas.

That would mean no new drive-throughs in areas such as Wortley Village, Old East village, Byron or the downtown.

But Kate Sillberg said banning new drive-throughs will create new problems.

“Well, then, they’re going to have to increase the size of parking lots at these places, aren’t they? There’s not a lot of room downtown for parking lots,” she said.

Sillberg said as a new mother, she enjoys the convenience of letting her little one sleep while she grabs a quick bite.

“I look for places with drive-throughs so I don’t have to take my son out of the car,” she said.

“People who have to take their kids out of the car seats, especially if they’re sleeping, they really prefer drive-throughs,” she said. “You could tell them to just avoid going out . . . ”

Sillberg said she signed a petition circulating in the city’s fast-food outlets, urging residents to fight any type of drive-through ban.

She’s not alone. As of Friday, more than 32,000 signatures had been collected.

“Personally I don’t go to the drive-through. I consider it laziness. But if you’re elderly and can’t get out of your car, then that’s what it’s for,” said Shawn Roberts, who also signed the petition.

But Kelly Kupczyk said there are enough pros and cons that serious thought should be given to stopping new drive-throughs from popping up in otherwise quiet neighbourhoods.

“If there are questions, then stop giving licences to new restaurants for a while, because there are lots of drive-throughs,” she said.

“But if you close Timmy’s, people are going to be upset . . . Maybe council is trying to deflect attention from the other things going on, like absenteeism at meetings.”



City hall has proposed tighter restrictions on drive-through locations, a move the fast-food industry has publicly interpreted as a plan to ban or partially ban drive-throughs. City planners have said the changes would clarify, not change, where drive-throughs can go. Some politicians want to limit new drive-throughs to protect the environment from vehicle idling — a claim the industry disputes would do any good — and to cut noise, litter and traffic disruptions.


Politically, city council’s planning committee is stickhandling the issue. On the industry side, it’s the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association. The industry group is campaigning against any move to ban drive-throughs, including with an online petition at www.drivethrutruth.ca. Other measures include the blue “Don’t ban drive-thrus” shirts many London fast-food workers are wearing and leaflets arguing the industry’s case.


It all started last summer, when the city served notice it intended to review its rules for drive-throughs. Industry reaction was sought last fall and in February, a divided council asked city staff to investigate options to restrict drive-throughs.


A public meeting of the planning committee to gather input, was called off last Tuesday after about 200 people showed up — too many for the council chamber’s fire safety limit — angering some in the industry about a perceived attack on their right to be heard. Some committee members seemed confused about why the meeting — to be rescheduled — was abruptly called off.


Drive-throughs follow crowds, and most new ones locate in high-growth areas where zoning bylaws spell out rules about needed space and ability to safely turn off major roads. But some cities are starting to clamp down: In California, some cities have banned drive-throughs and Toronto has placed new limits on where they can go.

– Free Press files

Cities mull drive-thru bans to combat pollution

Jordana Huber, Canwest News Service

Published: Sunday, June 22, 2008

TORONTO – The debate over drive-thrus continues to simmer across the country as communities ponder whether doing business through the car window is still a good idea in the wake of air quality and traffic congestion.

Municipalities in Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia have pondered banning new drive-thrus as a way to deal with idling cars that environmental advocates say contribute to smog – but so far no jurisdiction has passed an outright ban.

Sarnia, Ont., city councillors will likely put the brakes on further talk of a ban on drive-thrus next week after a staff report recommended the city create new guidelines rather than a moratorium.

City council agreed to look at the issue as part of a review of its official plan but the staff report, to be tabled at a council meeting today, suggests amendments to clarify where new drive-thru businesses should be located.

“We got a lot of feedback from the public,” said Mike Bradley, mayor of Sarnia. “Anyone who has a disability was concerned about a total ban. The point was also made over and over again that if you are going to ban drive-thrus then you better be willing to give up more green space to allow more parking.”

Bradley said the report will strengthen the city’s ability to ensure new drive-thrus have a minimal impact on the environment. He said the debate will hopefully put pressure on the fast food industry to reduce wait times he said cause congestion on some city streets.

A ban on new drive-thrus was debated in the city of North Vancouver but was rejected in March by city councillors.

Coun. Sam Schechter said he proposed the ban as one step towards orienting his city towards more sustainable design.

“It was simply part of better urban design for building cities that are less car reliant,” Schechter said. “You’re orienting your community away from the automobile and towards pedestrian and more sustainable transportation.”

Tonight, town officials in Kentville, N.S., – about 90 kilometres west of Halifax – will debate establishing an anti-idling bylaw.

But Coun. Eric Bolland, chairman of the town’s environmental advisory committee, would like to see his colleagues consider a prohibition on future drive-thru development.

“Drive-thrus encourage the idling of vehicles, discourages parking, turning off cars and saving gas,” he said.

A public meeting to discuss limiting new drive-thrus was postponed Tuesday evening in London, Ont., after too many people tried to pack into council chambers.

Proponents of a new bylaw in London argue it is one step towards reducing car emissions but the association representing restaurants in Ontario dismisses the argument as misleading and has launched its own petition and website.

Michelle Saunders, a spokeswoman for the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association said a peer-reviewed study commissioned by the organization found eliminating drive-thrus would not have any environmental impact.

“Air quality is either the same or worse if the drive-thru is removed because the customers move to the parking lot and you have other issues to contend with like congestion or driving to look for a parking spot, and shutting the car off and restarting it,” she said.

Moreover, she said, drive-thrus are a response to customer demand and provide an important service for the disabled, elderly or parents with children in car seats.

Meanwhile Dr. Richard Stanwick, Vancouver Island’s chief medical health officer, says that once a proposed anti-idling bylaw is given a test drive in the Victoria region, it could be expanded to include all of Vancouver Island.

“Once . . . we basically get the kinks out it, it would be something that I hope would serve as a template to be shared with other medical health officers on the Island,” Stanwick said.

Under the proposed bylaw, recommended to the Capital Regional District by Stanwick, people won’t be allowed to idle their vehicle engines for more than three minutes in a one-hour period.

Given the price of gas, the bylaw likely will just reinforce behaviour people will be taking on their own, he said.

“At this stage, when gas is approaching $1.50 a litre, in essence when you sit there idling your vehicle and burning gas at four litres an hour, it may not be a huge impact on your pocketbook, but over a year I think people would be actually quite surprised at how much of their hard-earned money is going, literally, out the tailpipe unnecessarily.”

CRD is expected to pass the bylaw this summer and forward it to the province for approval and implementation this fall.

The bylaw generated little controversy -_only nine members of the public bothered to voice opinions in three public information sessions held recently into the proposed no-idling bylaw.

No fine amount has yet been specified for violators.

- with file from the Victoria Times Colonist


Mayor tries to stifle uproar

Mayor tries to stifle uproar

Tue, June 24, 2008

DRIVE-THROUGH CONTROVERSY: Some on city council are still upset that last week’s meeting was postponed


With drive-through dissension flaring up again on London city council, the mayor last night asked city politicians for “co-operation” in avoiding an argument.

She didn’t get much.

Anne Marie DeCicco-Best was drawn into the week-old fracas that erupted when safety concerns led three members of council’s planning committee last Tuesday to walk out of an overcrowded public session on proposed restrictions on drive-throughs.

“I’m asking for a bit of co-operation here,” said the mayor, who was out of the city on vacation last week.

“I guess my requests are going nowhere.”

Coun. Roger Caranci, frustrated over his inability to move a motion at the aborted planning meeting, pushed the mayor to open up debate on the confusing controversy.

She declined, prompting a bold response by Caranci.

“Last week, democracy was not heard in London and the same thing is happening (here),” he said. “You’re not letting us speak tonight.”

“That’s correct,” DeCicco-Best said.

“That’s wrong,” Caranci replied.

The confusion surrounds how many votes were held at the public-input session.

Three planning committee members — Nancy Branscombe, Gina Barber and Judy Bryant — say the committee agreed to postpone the public participation last week, due to overcrowding.

Three others — Caranci, Bud Polhill and Paul Van Meerbergen — say no such vote took place.

All six do agree a motion to adjourn lost to a tie vote, prompting Branscombe, Barber and Bryant to walk out in frustration.

The committee secretary at the meeting says the two votes, postponement and adjournment, did take place.

Van Meerbergen, Polhill and Caranci all disagreed.

Bryant, Branscombe and Barber honoured the mayor’s request last night and remained silent on the issue.

Re-opening the acrimonious debate made little sense, especially considering the public-input meeting has been re-scheduled for July 15 at Centennial Hall, the mayor said.

City staff are recommending tightening restrictions on where drive-throughs can be built in London. The fast-food industry is calling that a ban.

Yesterday, Tim Hortons’ officials delivered petitions signed by 42,000 customers asking council to vote down the changes.


Drive-thru ban mulled by cities

Rebecca Turcotte, Windsor Star

Published: Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Move over fries, burgers and coffees. More drive-thrus are popping up — this time for picking up prescriptions and withdrawing cash.

Now many Canadian municipalities are pondering whether they should ban new drive-thrus, in an effort to cut down on the emissions idling cars emit. But Windsor council isn’t likely to put a halt on doing business through the car window.


City council voted in 2004 to restrict new drive-thru restaurants from being built in residential areas, the downtown and business improvement areas. The bylaw also says drive-thru lanes must be at least 15 metres from a residential dwelling, and there must be a noise barrier installed.

“There was an anti-idling bylaw passed, which was in an obvious conflict with drive-thrus,” said Hunt. “There were also residents that were concerned with drive-thrus operating 24 hours and after dark.”

Cities in Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia have also debated the issue — but so far no jurisdiction has banned drive-thrus.

The issue is sizzling in London, where a proposed bylaw restricts new drive-thru businesses in various zones, including downtown and commercial business districts.

More than 200 people attended a city planning meeting to discuss restricting new drive-thrus last week. The meeting was rescheduled because the the size of the crowd breached fire codes.

“Industry was looking forward to responding to concerns, and getting the facts out there about drive-thrus,” said Michelle Saunders, who travelled from Toronto to represent the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association at the meeting.

The industry association points to an environmental study it commissioned that shows drive-thrus don’t cause more vehicle emissions.

“It’s an effective way to eliminate customer volumes,” said Saunders. “There’s no harm.

“Industry is always looking at ways to improve service times and get customers in and out so there is no need to idle in the drive-thru.”

The industry association said drive-thrus are helpful for the disabled, and parents with small children.

An unscientific study of three Windsor Tim Hortons restaurants showed that going through the drive-thru was significantly faster than placing an order at the counter.

It’s that convenience that makes drive-thrus popular, said Saunders.

“It’s customer driven. They want a convenient way to access services,” she said.


Climate change question over Starbucks drive-through gains media attention

Thursday, June 26, 2008; Posted: 12:06 PM

Jun 26, 2008 (The Wisconsin State Journal – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) — — A suggestion from a member of Madison’s Plan Commission involving cars, climate change and a Starbuck’s drive-through ended up combining with Madison’s liberal reputation to create a buzz among some international news channels and bloggers Wednesday.

During a discussion June 16 on whether to OK a Starbuck’s drive-through on East Washington Avenue, Eric Sundquist asked whether concerns about carbon emissions from cars and global warming should be one of the factors the group considers when it approves drive-throughs.

“In that context, I just raised the question if facilities for idling cars were not worth considering,” said Sundquist, a policy analyst with the Center on Wisconsin Strategy who was appointed to the commission in May. “There isn’t any proposal on the table.”

Capital Times business reporter Mike Ivey reported Sundquist’s comments in a column posted in the paper’s Web site Wednesday. A link to the column was added to the Drudge Report — under the headline “Wisconsin city may ban restaurant drive-throughs over global warming concerns” — and next thing Sundquist knew, he was getting calls from Fox News and CNN.

Sundquist is quick to say he never suggested banning drive-throughs — “ban makes it sound like we’re going to shut down every McDonald’s in town,” he said — and the strongest action he can envision is not letting more drive-throughs open up in Madison. More likely, he said, are restrictions on things such as where the drive-through facilities could be located.

If such restrictions do come to pass, it won’t be anytime soon.

Sundquist said he hasn’t really talked in any depth about his idea with city officials, and it’s not yet been formally placed on any city commission’s agenda. He said he will try to get it on the agenda for the next Long Range Transportation Planning Commission, of which he is also a member, but might not be able to if it’s already going to be a busy meeting.

“Something like this has to go through a lot of scrutiny before it become law,” said fellow plan commission member Judy Bowser, who was at the meeting where Sundquist raised his concerns.

Nevertheless, Googling “Eric Sundquist drive throughs” returns no shortage of not-so-nice commentary on Sundquist and the alleged scourge of liberals.

Sundquist said calls came Wednesday from a Rockford, Ill., television station and radio shows in Seattle and Canada. CNN called but lost interest after he explained himself a little more thoroughly, he said, and Fox called too. He plans to do a phone interview with one of the cable channel’s morning shows today — “a live bashing of me,” he speculated.

The commission did recommend approving the Starbuck’s drive-through.


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