Drive-thrus and their impact | SPECIAL TO THE EXAMINER

Drive-thrus and their impact


Posted 1 day ago

Almost every town, city and village, have them– drive-thrus. Daily, people line up with their idling vehicles to order a bag of greasy food or a cup of empty calories. Depending on the time of day, a five-to- 10-minute wait isn’t out of the question.

My worst drive-thru experience happened at a KFC location in town. I waited upwards of 10 minutes in the line-up, only to find out what I ordered couldn’t be made because they had no chicken. Go figure. To give the restaurant some credit it was close to closing time for them.

While I admit to being a user of them, it’s certainly not on a regular basis. What keeps me away is my dislike of coffee and the fact that fast food isn’t the healthiest choice for you. Usually I hit up the drive-thru when I’m either on the road or really pressed for time, the original intent of drive-thrus from my understanding.

While the purpose of them was to be convenient for those of us on the run continually, they’ve somewhat lost their original target audience. We as a society have become lazier and rather then get out of our cars to go into the restaurant (sometimes I think that word is used too loosely) to order our food we’d rather just sit in our cars while they spew toxic emissions into our air.

In my old stomping grounds of Fredericton, N. B., there is a coffee shop with a drive-thru in the downtown core. As with most downtowns, space is limited. The coffee shop has 10 parking spots at most, two or three of which were reserved for the disabled.

Every morning there is a line up of cars at the drive thru that extended out to the sidewalk. You would think that once drivers saw that the line up reached edge of the street they would reconsider and find another location to buy coffee. Do they? No. Instead, they insist on blocking a full lane of traffic and making other drivers who want to continue down the street pull into the right turning lane to go around them.

What is worse is the city police take absolutely no action to remove the cars or ticket the drivers for impeding traffic. Really, when you think about it, it comes down to a safety issue. Clearly, this is a major pet peeve.

Thankfully, to my knowledge, it hasn’t come to this here in Peterborough, but we aren’t perfect. While we have an idling bylaw in place, it doesn’t include cars waiting in line at a drive-thru, so the clouds of pollution continue to rise, fouling our air and making life harder for those with breathing difficulties.

I read with great interest several news articles discussing the Newfoundland and Labrador city of St. John’s recent ban on new drivethrus. What a great idea. I should clarify that it isn’t a total ban, if the fast-food outlet can prove that traffic will not spill out on to city streets, they can go ahead with the project.

Even though drive-thrus in St. John’s won’t be outlawed completely, it did something just as important, it got people talking. Within the week, cities across the country were having similar debates about how to act on the issue.

A good place to start when looking at the drive-thru issue would be to ask “Why do you restaurant patrons use the drive-thru rather then going inside?” The answer most people would come up with would be that it is quicker then going inside, but is it? When the line of cars stretches around the building and, like in some cities, lines up on the streets, I think getting out and going inside might be the faster option.


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