Same roads, same rights, same access to fast food?

According to Oregon law, bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles. So why do some fast-food joints refuse to serve cyclists at drive-thru windows?

I just received this story from a reader was recently left hungry and foodless because he was on a bike:

“I was heading home from a concert and got hungry so I rolled up to the 24 hour drive thru Jack-in-the-Box at Sandy and around 45th. The person manning the drive-thru took my order, and then after I had ordered realized I was on a bike. At that point he refused to give me my food because I was not in a vehicle.

I told him that according to Oregon law my bike was a vehicle…but I was unable to convince him. Anyway I don’t know how common this is, but I think it might be very common, and we just don’t notice because most cyclists don’t eat fast food.”

I heard someone in Portland was trying to pass a new ordinance that requires all drive-thrus to serve bicyclists. Anyone know the status of that?

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janis mcdonald
16 years ago

I believe there are some banks that also refuse to let you use their drive thru windows. Anyone know about that? It was a Wells Fargo that my friend was told he had to come inside.

Kat Iverson
Kat Iverson
16 years ago

A few months ago I wrote to my representative, Mitch Greenlick, with a proposal for a bill for the 2007 legislature. I proposed making it illegal to ban cyclists from drive-up windows at anytime and illegal to ban pedestrians at times when the interior of the restaurant, bank, or any business is closed. I spoke to him, then e-mailed him a detailed proposal. He said he would submit it.

miroslav
miroslav
16 years ago

I used to work at a fast food drive-thru (actually a couple of them). The basic policy was nothing other than motorized vehicles. When I asked why (being the curious contrary sort that I am) I was told it was a matter of “safety”. Further inquiries led to them saying that they couldn’t be held liable for the safety of the bicyclist and that somehow, it exposed the drive-thru worker to greater risk.

C3PNo
C3PNo
16 years ago

Yah, I used to do this when I lived out past Shady2nd Ave… one day they just told me I couldn’t do the d-thru anymore, citing apparent “security” issues. There were no bike racks anywhere in sight so I started bringing my bike inside the store, blocking a full booth and tracking mud in. The employees thought it was funny. I was grateful to have max security for my ride, but there is this separatist feel to it.

This town needs a good bike-hop(car-hop?).

el timito
el timito
16 years ago

A local transportation activist has been on this case already –

http://shift2bikes.org/pedalpalooza/pp2006.php#132

Anonymous
Anonymous
16 years ago

It is a liability issue.
I had the police called on me at Wendy’s for refusing to leave when they wouldn’t serve me through the drive thru.
But, as a issue of liability, they have a point, and this hand will probably not be forced easily.
Under the guise of safety they have a point.
And, it is a buisness. A business owner, and it says it on the door, has the right to refuse service to anyone.

Clinton Rider
Clinton Rider
16 years ago

I was pondering this same issue while at WaMu bank. The inside line had 16 people in it, but the drive thru had 2. I tried on my bike and was rejected, so I waited about 15 min inside to do my transaction. I coulda ridden home and gotten my car and come back in that amount of time!

Patrick
Patrick
16 years ago

Round peg square hole.

What’s Ginsberg got to say on this?

Bjorn
Bjorn
16 years ago

I’m the hungry rider in question, and the employee did tell me that the reason he wasn’t allowed to give me my food was because if I was injured during the transaction I might sue them. That seemed a bit ridiculous since he’d already taken the order, and the drive thru, the parking lot, and the street for that matter were completely deserted.

As much as discriminating against people who chose to travel by methods other than cars seems to run counter to the work that the city is funding to get people out of their cars, I don’t think that legally they can be required to serve bicyclists, we aren’t a protected class like the blind. In order to change this we probably need to try to contact the owners of these franchises and work to change the policy.

All I wanted was some food at the only place that was open. I have biked through drive thru’s before without incident, maybe we could make a list of drive thru’s that serve everyone.

Bjorn

no one in particular
no one in particular
16 years ago

just a note: On a bicycle, you are considered a car when you’re on the roads (“public ways” in ORS). When you are on a sidewalk, playground, or private parking lot/drive through, you are NOT considered a car under the law!

This is, of course, unrelated to your main point, but I just thought I’d mention…

pdxrocket
pdxrocket
16 years ago

“F drivethrus” I say, it’s all corporate crud anyhow.
My choices for late-night sustenance:
Zack’s on Hawthorne
Voodoo Doughnuts
anything else?

Mick
16 years ago

Anonymous:

You say they have a point about liability and safety. What exactly is the point? Who’s safety is in danger?

Ron
Ron
16 years ago

My oh My,

Yes, I would love to bike through many drive thru’s on the way somewhere. Frankly, businesses are missing out here…

Oi!

Ron

jami
16 years ago

the burger king just east of the hawthorne bridge left me hungry one night, too. i’d totally join a protest ride through problem drive-throughs.

that bk in particular must be losing mad cash by turning away bikes.

Medic Pilot
Medic Pilot
16 years ago

Exactly my question, Mick.

What is the big deal. What could possibly go wrong at the drive thru that can be avoided by being served inside? I mean, you would still have to walk out their front door and through their parking lot to get into your car or on your bike.

I also don’t buy the whole “security” thing either. If anything, I would think that the employee is safer with the separation of glass and very small window that say a counter inside the building.

Who knows…

jami
16 years ago

pdxrocket, i love voodoo donuts, but sometimes you don’t want to get off your bike, take out your lock, lock up your bike, take off your helmet and gloves, stow your helmet and gloves, go inside, wait around, stow your food, then go back outside, put on your helmet, put on your gloves, oops, take off your gloves, unlock your bike, stow your lock, put on your gloves and go.

sometimes you want to be afforded the same convenience as a fat-ass in an suv. or at least sometimes i do.

Randy
Randy
16 years ago

The answer is simple. Don’t patronize these businesses. Fast food sucks anyway. And tell the bank why you’re closing your account when you do so.

I personally refuse to patronize Big Daddy’s BBQ at 30th and Hawthorne because they don’t have any bike parking facilities and wouldn’t let me bring my bike inside.

Elly
16 years ago

For what it’s worth, I have biked through the drive-throughs at two different Burgervilles, and both times was served without comment (though some funny looks from other customers).

At the one in St John’s a manager ran out toward us while we tried to place our order and we thought “oh no, we’re going to get kicked out.” But he just wanted to tell us that our bikes weren’t heavy enough to trigger the speaker. He took our order in person and we waited in a grassy bit of the parking lot until another employee brought our food outside to us.

Activists interested in this issue could perhaps look into Burgerville’s policies and then use them as leverage in talking with other store managers.

JB
JB
16 years ago

It’s private property and baring any laws to the contrary, they can make whatever rules they want. I’m totally in favor of a law to require them to serve cyclists as other vehicles.

J Price
J Price
16 years ago

Never been turned down at Fast Food joints; though, you could count the number of visits on one-hand. I have actually been served at a DQ on one occasion when I walked through.

Wells Fargo branches seem to be hit or miss. My local branch got used to my monthly paycheck deposits on my ride home; never been turned down. A Raleigh Hills branch has refused service on some occasions and accepted it on others.

Most window staffers just look at you and laugh saying it’s the first time they’ve seen that.

The staff security reason would be the only plausible reason in my mind; a ped or cyclist is much closer to the window and has better grasp-n-go ability than a reach-through-the-car-window-driver. Nothing else makes sense and some businesses could stand to lose by not allowing it.

Donna
Donna
16 years ago

The Burgerville on Hawthorne served me in the drive-through about 3 weeks ago with nary a second glance. I appeared to trigger their speaker.

Jeremy
Jeremy
16 years ago

I’d say make your order, then go into the restaurant with your bike if they refuse. If they still refuse to serve, leave and don’t give them any more of your money.

Matt Picio
16 years ago

I don’t buy the security argument – do they serve motorcycles? Today’s SUVs are a bigger security issue – the driver’s waist is level with the window, providing a perfect opportunity for the driver to lean through the window and grab the employee. I can accept the liability argument, but there are a number of other elements that cause a fast food restraunt more exposure, like hot coffee.

As far as the safety of the cyclist at a drive thru is concerned, certainly a single woman on a bike at night is safer under a well-lit drive thru window than she is trying to park her bike and wrestle with the lock in a poorly lit bike rack on the lot.

Joe Planner
Joe Planner
16 years ago

This is why corporate America sucks.. The grunts at the window can’t do anything when they serve a fat cat sleeping on a bed of feathers..

jami
16 years ago

yeah, jp, i had the impression that the guy at burger king who turned me down wanted to just hand over the bk veggie i’d ordered, but there was a rule-y boss somewhere in the back. he said i could come inside to get my food, but i didn’t want the hassle and said i’d just “skip it.”

doesn’t the burgerville on hawthorne have a “no bikes in drive-thru” sign?

of course this isn’t the most important issue facing humankind, but it is annoying to bike home hungry for no good reason.

Dominique
Dominique
16 years ago

1- Learn how to cook.

2-‘Drive thru’ are for DRIVERS.

3- Start your own ‘Bike thru’ and stop the crying.

C3PNo
C3PNo
16 years ago

Dear Dominique,

Hi! Wow, nice message [sarcasm]!

1. I know how to cook.

2. ‘Open Forums’, such as this one, are designed for ‘open’ ‘discussion’.

3. Commanding and insulting the forum always works best [sarcasm].

beth
beth
16 years ago

Thumbs up to Point West Credit union (on 12th near Benson HS), which allows me to make transactions at their drive-through teller while astride my bicycle.

Thumbs down to Walgreen’s at MLK & Ainsworth, which stopped letting cyclists use their drug pick-up drive-through window last spring.

ppphhht! ..:: wags fingers in front of nose::..

And I’m with whomever said “it’s all corporate crap anyhow”. If I’m gonna eat out, I’m gonna do it at independent places that serve up the good, healthy stuff. Better fuel for my engine and all that.

Tbird
Tbird
16 years ago

The liability is that fast food will kill you.
The safety issue is that fast food is poison.
Don’t eat fast food.

Nate
Nate
16 years ago

C3PNo
In an “open” “discussion” forum it would be completely okay for Dominique to state his opinions in such a manor, especially when its straight to the point and brings up obvious facts that dont need any more explanation.

And anyways we all choose to bike for more than likely good,intelligent reasons. So it shouldnt also be hard to see why we shouldn’t even be supporting such business, why would anyone want to give their money to people who are literally enslaving the planet with their influence. Not to mention the stuff just plain isnt healthy, youre probably be better off going home with an empty stomach, healthier too!

But honestly fast food corporations are NOT EVER going to give Portland as the only exception out of their millions of locations on the face of this planet, the ability to ride bikes through drive thrus (a change in their universal company standards). Thats the truth, you may get a few employees who let things slide every once and a while but hey, who doesnt let things slide every now and then.

tds
tds
16 years ago

This has happened to me several times at the Wendys at Interstate and Lombard. They will take your order, but once they realize you are on a bike they will refuse to fill the order. They close their doors at 10 or 11pm and then keep the drive open till 2am. Between this time the manager told me you must be in a motorized vehicle to use the drive through. She said that it was for their safety- saying that a biker could jump through the window and rob Wendys or harm the employees! I guess that this does not take into account that it would be easier to jump the counter inside when that is available, or a driver opening their car door and doing the same thing! When I told her that I did not have a car, but would a riding lawnmower suffice she stared and then closed the window and walked off…

Scott B
Scott B
16 years ago

Hi,

I’ve had hit and miss experiences with drive throughs at banks, I don’t really do fast food so I’m not really sure. The wells fargo on 39th and Powell has occasionally refused to serve me but then I go inside and track water and mud all over (not intentionally). I’m just trying to be helpful, what ever. Usually when I go to banks their is a line of cars so it is no slower to go inside. I’ve partially given up on drive throughs because they are so isolating. I’d honestly rather take a minute to lock up and be able to talk with someone a little more face to face.

On principle though I want to know I can be served anywhere a car can.

RIde on,
Scott

Bjorn
Bjorn
15 years ago

http://news.bostonherald.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=176095

This article is about a disabled man who was refused coffee because he can’t drive and they stopped considering his wheelchair to be a vehicle.

Bjorn

Jarvis
Jarvis
15 years ago

One time I was biking home late late and ended up in the same situation, sitting in the fast food drive thru on my bike arguing with the clerk. Because I was a little wined-up, and politically indignant at the apparent discrimination, I ended up just deciding to stay and contiue to demand service. After the car behind me had been forced to wait about five minutes, and after several threats to call the police, the BK woman (pissed-off) eventually sold me the sandwich! I had mixed feelings about this: had I scored a victory for bike equality through non-violent protest, or just harrassed a helpless employee for crap food? If, however, anyone ever wants to take ‘action’ on this issue, all you have to do is be persistent!

Scott Mizée
14 years ago

I think there is a more recent story on this, but this is the first on that came up when I googled.

I have had two experiences with taking the bakfiets through the fast food \”drive through\” window. Both were at McDonalds.

The first one was about a year ago at McDonalds in St. Johns. There was an adamant woman working the window who basically yelled at my kids and I that they wouldn\’t serve us because their insurance did not allow us to mix with motor vehicles in that area of the parking lot. I was upset enough to speak to the manager and he offered us to come back again for free ice cream later.

The second experience was two nights ago. I had my 7, 4 and 2 year olds in the front of the bakfiets and we navigated the McDonald\’s drive through in the Rose Quarter. I was a little nervous given my past experience, but really didn\’t want to have to unbuckle all the kids and chase them around the inside of the restaurant. I\’m happy to say that other than the strange looks this time, our stomachs were filled happily with our post little league treat. Everyone was happy for the long ride home back to University Park.

Ethan
Ethan
13 years ago

The argument about safety (robbery angle), which I have heard at fast food and banks, is bogus. There’s no “get-away” possible with a bike that would not be done more quickly with an enduro-style motorcycle.

I have also heard that I am not safe amongst the cars in line with me, which is absurd because it is one of the only time both modes of transport are moving the same speed.

The other reason cited (insurance) could be dealt with by city ordinance that requires drive-thru facilities to serve non-motorized vehicles. With all the budgetary pressures that city officials must navigate to build actual infrastructure, I have always been amazed that this simple law be passed.