I grew up the Midwest. Topeka, KS is very much a car culture. Wanamaker Road, our main drag, is lined with drive-thrus: pharmacy drive-thrus, dry cleaning drive-thrus, and liquor drive-thrus.
Kansans need to drive several hours with parents prior to getting a driver’s license. Most of my parent practice hours consisted of zipping down 10th street to pick up dry cleaning or an Arby’s roast beef ‘n’ cheddar with curly fries. During my college years I would often roll up to Scooters coffee for a quick drive-thru latte on the way to class and made many a late-night run to the Little Caesars drive-thru for a hot ‘n’ ready. So, when I read this week that Minneapolis, Minnesota is banning the construction of new drive-thrus, part of me was……pained.
Drive-thrus make things so EASY. Think about grabbing a quick dinner, a parent picking up medicine for a sick child, or a person with disabilities.
While new drive-thrus are already prohibited in 17 of the 23 Minnesota zoning districts, this new policy extends the ban to the remaining zones. The ordinance does not apply to any current or pre-existing drive-thrus, only new construction. Let’s break it down.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation has found associations between the density of urban driveways and crash rates. Drive-thrus require more driveways, introducing more points of conflicts. Advocates of the ordinance say it will cut down on vehicle noise, reduce pollution, and make sidewalks safer. According to Minneapolis City Council, the new law will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050, part of the ongoing Minneapolis vehicle emissions plan.
Opponents say that the restriction will limit accessibility to businesses and restaurants for people with disabilities.
Drive-thru bans are not new. San Luis Obispo, California, banned drive-thrus in 1982. After an influx of new drive-thrus, Long Beach, California declared a six-month drive-thru ban in May of 2019. Despite these bans and concerns, drive-thrus remain popular. Many fast-casual chains are more willing to add drive-thru windows, some to be dedicated to mobile orders.
Should we get rid of this known convenience for health benefits in the future, for less pollution in the future?
Childhood nostalgia aside, I say yes. Drive-thrus do make life easier, but we’ve outgrown them. To me, this is the only logical solution. It increases safety and decreases pollution. I do believe something needs to be done for people with disabilities who currently rely on drive-thrus, perhaps a parking area designated for pickups. Many fast casual restaurants have this system in place already.
According to QSR Magazine, most major quick serves report about 70 percent of sales through their drive-thru window. A U.S freestanding Dunkin’ restaurant without a drive-thru generates about $1 million in sales annually, while the number shoots up to 1.3 million when a drive-thru window is added. While businesses can still designate a parking space for dropping off and picking up goods, this still means lots of changes are in the air, at least in Minneapolis. Is your city next?
According to the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, about 20% of vehicle accidents occur in parking lots, a statistic that includes drive thrus. These collisions could involve another vehicle or a pedestrian. They are often caused by lackadaisical driving, as operators may relax more while driving in a parking lot than on a busy street. It’s important to stay cautious and alert while operating a vehicle, wherever you are driving. We must protect ourselves and others on the road. Our vehicle safety solutions give any operator the extra visibility they need to protect themselves and the people around them. Take a look at our wide variety of backup camera systems on our website.