Support from Denver Vale Nixon, BSc (Victoria), MES (York), MLIS (Western)

Dear Honourable Mayor DeCicco-Best:

I am a London homeowner and doctoral student at the University of Western Ontario (please see address below).  This afternoon I attended the meeting regarding drive-through (a.k.a. “drive-thru”) regulation in London, though perhaps “circus” would be a better description given the behaviour of the Tim Horton’s corporate supporters that were present.  Anyway, I wish to pass on to you that I support any regulatory change that prevents the addition of drive-throughs in the city.  Although the proposed changes that were presented sounded weakened, again I support any restrictions on drive-throughs, and therefore support the amendments, though with strong encouragement to expand drive-through restrictions universally (i.e. a moratorium) in the Official Plan as soon as possible.

Having returned from a two month “conference tour” on the west coast, I will admit that I am not totally up to date on all of the details and nuances that you have been dealing with, but I would like to speak to what I saw as glaring problems in the materials presented.  First, the report statement that drive-throughs do not increase automobile trips is absolutely incorrect.  My current research is on transportation geography and planning, and I have worked as an assistant planner for the Capital Regional District in Victoria, BC, and I can say definitively that a trip to the drive-through is in fact an additional trip, or two (if returning to the same origin), unless the person using the drive-through also works at the drive-through enterprise in question, and can park there without returning to the public road network.  A drive-through user may perform what is called, “trip chaining,” involving a number of stops between final beginning and end points (usually home and place of employment), but this is not aggregated to constitute one trip.  The drive-through is but another node in a series of nodes, the segments in between constituting extra trips.  The other suspect if not outright spurious report claims were those stating that drive-through idling has no significant impact on vehicle emissions (note the wording here), and/or that using a drive-through is no worse than parking the same vehicle.  In general, this makes little sense; if the person’s vehicle is idling, with constant accelerations and decelerations, they are logically emitting more than a vehicle that is not running.  To propose otherwise is absurd.  I may foresee a counter-argument in which a vehicle that starts cold emits more than one that is warm; this may be true in some cases (catalytic converters work best when hot), but how many vehicles will actually reach a thermal state definable as “cold” from a five minute sit in the parking lot throughout most of the year?

Beyond these concerns regarding truth claims, I feel that it is completely irrational, as well as heartless (with regard to future generations), to allow practices such as drive-though idling to continue given the undesirable direction of change observable in the environment, both locally and globally (I will not bore you here with a myriad citations, as I’ve gathered that you are familiar with the situation).  The lack of commitment to environmental integrity associated with drive-through providers is glaringly obvious when considering that most do not allow bicyclists or pedestrians to use this “service” (I have tried!).  Another concern revolves around health– a person, who otherwise does not suffer from a challenge to their mobility, cannot leave their car to walk inside the restaurant is making a sorry statement on the condition of our health and health-awareness indeed.  Similarly, the noise of drive-throughs, their localized emissions, as well as their questionable aesthetic, have the potential to undermine the physical and mental health of local residents.  The research is available to support this.  Please, in the future, when considering issues such as these, consult the peer reviewed literature, rather than entertaining corporate funded “grey papers” that have little scientific value.

Thank you for the time you’ve made to read and consider this.

Sincerely Yours,

Denver Nixon

“America is a country of remarkably developed, highly polished young women, and oddly garbed, criminally inclined young men travelling at great speed in monstrous cars along superhighways from one skyscraping city to the next; the very largest cars contain millionaires with crew-cuts; everyone is chewing gum…”

— Haddon, John. 1960. “A View of Foreign Lands.” Geography 65:286.

Denver Vale Nixon, BSc (Victoria), MES (York), MLIS (Western)

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