Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Burgerville: Bikes now welcome in all drive-thrus

Posted by on August 14th, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Burgerville: Fresh, Local, Sustainable
… and now bike-able!

Chalk it up as another big win for citizen activism.

Portland writer and self-described “family biking evangelist” Sarah Gilbert’s account of being denied service in the drive-thru of a local Burgerville restaurant while on her bicycle (which was then picked up by local media and Twittered all over the place) has led the company to announce a new policy.

The 39 location Burgerville chain announced today that people on bicycles are now allowed to order and pick up food through the drive-thru (which they now also refer to as a “cycle-thru”!). The company — whose major marketing hook is its earth-friendly practices — is billing this as their “latest sustainability innovation”.

According to a press release, the company will announce a formal drive-thru program within the next two weeks. Here’s an excerpt from the release where they specifically credit Ms. Gilbert in making the policy decision:

“Burgerville is creating a chain-wide formalized bike-friendly policy, which was galvanized yesterday in part due to an experience chronicled by Sarah Gilbert, an avid Portland cyclist. Ms. Gilbert attempted to order cheeseburgers at Burgerville’s Southeast 25th Avenue and Powell Boulevard drive-thru and was rebuffed… Ms. Gilbert’s experience helped accelerate our decision to develop a formal bike-friendly program.”

Burgerville says their previous policy was to allow individual managers to decide whether or not to serve people on bikes in drive thrus, but now the policy will be mandated at all their locations.

Here’s Burgerville honcho Jack Graves:

“Opening up our drive-thrus to the large cycling community in our area is a natural for us and is very much in line with our overall values. While we are sorry that Ms. Gilbert was inconvenienced, we appreciate the passion she brought to the issue and her commitment to the environment and our food. We are excited about the positive impact we will be able to make through our new bike policy.”

Burgerville expects that all 39 of its locations will be able to accommodate “cycle-thru” orders within the next two weeks as the company finalizes operational and safety aspects of the program.

Read Sarah Gilbert’s response to the news posted today on her CafeMama blog.

“Cycle-thru” — now that has a very nice ring to it.

We are lucky to have citizens like Sarah Gilbert and locally owned and operated companies like Burgerville that listen and respond to their customers.

Now, I wonder if this will lead to a revolution of opening up drive-thrus at other places like banks, pharmacies, and so on? And, who’s up for organizing a ride to Burgerville cycle-thrus next week?! Seriously.

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  • Tomas Quinones August 14, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Yaaaaaaaaaaaay! now, if all the other drive-thru joints will follow in BV’s wake?

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  • Andrew Holtz August 14, 2009 at 3:46 pm


    Let’s definitely give them lots of Cycle-thru business. Enough so that other businesses see the profit to be made (or lost) by their bicycle policies.

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  • John Lascurettes August 14, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    For all other businesses with a drive through: Couldn’t one just make the argument that in the eyes of the vehicle code (ORS in Oregon) that a bike is a vehicle legally entitled to go on roads (interstate freeways excepted) as cars are?

    I mean, if they service motorcycles, what’s the difference. Money is money (and empty calories are empty calories).

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  • Miss Ena August 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    I ride past a Burgerville on my way home. A couple of times I’ve been out of water and very thirsty.

    The people are so kind and refill my water bottle for me to get me up the hill onto home.

    I’m appreciative of the BV staff.

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  • TDavis August 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Is this really an “innovation”? Come on…I like the idea, but an innovation would not have required the media attention BEFORE B’ville changes its policy.

    Does this mean if I am commuting home by running (just as earth friendly as a multi-sport athlete) that I can go through the “whatever-thru” and get service?

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  • Disastronaut August 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Why not, I see this stuff once in a while:

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  • Snowflakes Seven August 14, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    Its good that they corrected themselves, but odd that they had a problem with it in the first place.

    I use the drive-up window at my national-chain pharmacy at least twice a month without incident. It baffles why anyone would discriminate against a paying customer by mode of transportation.

    One note, if your going to by four beverages be sure you think through how your going to carry them.

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  • Marcello August 14, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    Kudos to Burgerville! I will get a milkshake to go next time I ride past one.

    Just curious, what kind of safety issues have to be fixed to accommodate all vehicles at “drive through” windows? I keep hearing (usually from car riders) that not letting people on some type of vehicles (bikes) get service at those windows is done to protect them, because of alleged safety issues.

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  • K'Tesh August 14, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Boy! Is that legal? 😉

    Someone at Jack in the Box told me that it violates federal law to serve bicyclists in the drive thru.

    Hope some clown get’s them message.

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  • K'Tesh August 14, 2009 at 5:09 pm


    fingers too fast…

    make that last sentence

    “Hope some clown gets the message.”

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  • PDXbiker August 14, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    A cyclists money is just as green as a motorists at a drive thru.

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  • exbv-cyclist August 14, 2009 at 5:32 pm

    I worked the drive-thru at a BV for about 6 months. I was the closing shift and so the only employee in the building after 10pm save the mgr and cook.

    It was ridiculous that I would have to deny cyclists and walk-ups just because they didn’t own a car. (Dining room closes an hour earlier.)

    I would tell cyclists that if they rode up to the window, I couldn’t help them, but I don’t have a camera of who’s at the order box, so….

    I would always give cyclists the “senior discount” as well.

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  • Jessica Roberts August 14, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    When I was little my mom would occasionally take me through the Jack-in-the-Box drive through in my stroller to get onion rings. I don’t remember any lawsuits or safety issues at the time…Anyway, I don’t get fast food much but when I do I like BV for their groovy local purchasing, and this is yet another reason to patronize them. Well done! (<pun sort of intended)

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  • bicycletothesun August 14, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    This will be awesome. As soon as the cycle-thru opens up I’m going through to get a milkshake.

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  • Hart August 14, 2009 at 5:51 pm

    “I said NEAR the In and Out Burger!”

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  • steved August 14, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    This is one small step forward for bicycle advocacy, one step backwards for healthy eating.

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  • Peter Noone August 14, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Cool, but beef will likely never be “sustainable”, even if it’s organic. I’m going a little off topic here, but I find it interesting that a lot of cyclists are almost self-righteously environmentalist but don’t seem to know or care that diet has more effect on the environment than personal travel mode.

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  • matchu August 14, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    Oregon state law considers cycles vehicles akin to trucks, cars, etc. with certain reservations. Wouldn’t it be unconstitutional for an Oregon business to not service a cyclist in their drive-thru while simultaneously servicing other modes of transportation?

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  • sarah gilbert August 14, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    Peter Noone: I disagree. beef raised entirely on range unfit for agriculture, like the sagebrush of Eastern Oregon (the way all beef was raised *before* McDonald’s and its ilk) is quite sustainable; when raised in a farm with a variety of other animals beef cows are part of a continuum that makes environmental and agriculture sense. now, beef consumed in quantities that most Americans consume it (even organic) IS unsustainable; but most of us foodie/”almost self-righteously environmentalist” know AND care exactly what the footprint of the beef we eat, is.

    a burger, for me, makes a very rare appearance in my diet, along with french fries, milkshakes made with conventional milk, and the rest of the offerings at Burgerville.

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  • jim August 14, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    I wouldn’t expect changes to happen real fast. It will take quite some time for them to consult with the attys., the ins co., and back to the aty’s again. It will no doubt raise their ins. premiums and that will have to be approved by upper mgmt… If a drunk driver were to slam into a bike in a drive through the restraunt is liable.There are cars bumping into the car ahead of them every day in lines in parking garages. Most of the time they are getting money out of their wallet and not realizing they are rolling ahead. In the drive through the driver often has to deal with a lot of people in the car who are driving the driver crazy with hold the mayo, substitutions, finnacy kids…,
    Jonathon should interview a night time drive through attendant to get his/her views on the situation

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  • jim August 14, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    If bikes are allowed then would skate boards also be allowed?, razor scooters? what about pedestrians? Would they have to make a lower window for wheelchairs to roll up to?

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  • Jackie August 14, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    My boyfriend & I were refused service at the powell & 25th location when we were on foot (The inside was already closed – only the drive-thru was open). The employee told us it was because of their insurance. We didn’t think it was very sustainable of them. I hope they’ll allow pedestrians now or have a walk-up window.

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  • Anonymous August 14, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    meat is not sustainable, you should really educate yourself

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  • BigMarty August 14, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Totally cruising to the Burgerville on Scholls tomorrow for a bite. Hell yes.

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  • naomi August 14, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Peter: oh get off it already. Me having a burger a few times a year doesn’t make me a hypocrite.

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  • Katusha August 14, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    At Hart #15:
    Well said.

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  • jj August 14, 2009 at 10:58 pm


    but its TASTY! And good for you in moderation, as a part of a balanced diet.

    Actually, I eat at fast food places very rarely (the wife and kids are Celiac–we tend to just avoid fast food places.)

    I have to agree that this is one step forward for bike rights but kinda sad that we are fighting to fatten ourselves up.

    OK…off to get a whiffies and potato champion. Maybe even a crepe!

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  • b. right on August 15, 2009 at 12:10 am

    ailing business in cynical move to boost profit

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  • Anonymous August 15, 2009 at 12:48 am

    @ Jackie (and other me-too non-cyclists)
    The law states that cyclists must be equipped with lights, unlike on-foot pedestrians (with exceptions). You don’t see how a person in the dark with no lights is more at risk of getting hit by a car?

    Also why are you complaining about it on a bike blog anyway

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  • Refunk August 15, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Kudos to Burgerville – another large business with the intelligence to acknowledge transportational bicycling and treat their cycling patrons like adults. Now, if only banks would follow suit (I could care less about any of the national-chain fast food joints).

    As for the fast food aspect, I’ve never noticed their delivery across the counter being fast!. I seldom buy burgers, but the wonderful local fruit or vegetable of the month prepared in whatever whacky way at Burgerville pretty much assures a minimum of my money. This new bit is like getting whipped cream added.

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  • Steven J August 15, 2009 at 11:41 am

    there’s no such thing as bad press.

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  • Peregrine78 August 15, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I hope this doesn’t come across as smug, but does anyone else think that commuting by bike and eating meat are a little contradictory?

    I mean, if you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint and use less fossil fuels, going veg is huge.

    I know Burgerville is all grass-fed Happy Cows, but it still takes a ton of resources to make beef.

    That said, I think it’s totally your right to eat meat, and my guess is that Sarah probably doesn’t eat it all the time. But I know I’ve worked with full-time bike commuters who never thought twice about eating meat every meal.

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  • Opus the Poet August 15, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    My local Wendy’s has no problem with selling me stuff if I go through the line and roll up to the first window instead of waiting at the speaker, because their system can’t detect a bicycle. But McDonald’s threatened to charge me with trespassing, so I don’t buy anything from Mickey D’s anymore.

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  • KruckyBoy August 15, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Let’s start filling up non-compliant drives throughs with bikes. Every time you’re turned away tell them “Fine- I’ll go to Burgerville where they welcome bike traffic”. After enough people are turned away maybe they will start to rethink their policies. Or just say “It’s good to see you’re making too much money during this recession”.

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  • Vance Longwell August 15, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    This came about because of a rash of walk-up robberies in southern California during the mid nineties. The same people damning this practice now, were the same one’s foisting this rule on businesses in the first place. “Oh, the poor vulnerable kids, let’s outlaw going through the drive-up without a car”.

    You know, the ones who seem to think every little detail of life gets legislated down to the last molecule? This isn’t discrimination. This isn’t dumb business practice. This is compliance with Nanny State demands now effecting its progenitors, so of course we’re gonna hear all about it whether it’s rational or not.

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  • Michael M. August 15, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Peregrine78 (#32) — You’re assuming that one’s purpose in commuting by bike is to reduce one’s carbon footprint. Some of us ride, commute, etc., simply because we enjoy it. Some of us also enjoy eating beef sometimes.

    So, no, no contradiction at all.

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  • KWW August 15, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    boo-hoo-hoo! meat is not sustainable! I will ponder that when I am at BURGERVILLE!

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  • Russell August 15, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Cool, but breeding will likely never be “sustainable”, even if it’s by left wing hippies. I’m going a little off topic here, but I find it interesting that a lot of cyclists are almost self-righteously environmentalist but don’t seem to know or care that having children has more effect on the environment than personal travel mode.

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  • Mr DeJerk August 15, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    As for other cycle-thrus – you bet they’ll appear. I just wouldn’t call it a “revolution”, but, rather, an adaptation. They want our bu$ine$$, and they’ll do what it takes to get it.

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  • naomi August 15, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I ride my bike because I like riding. I don’t do it because I’m “self righteous” or a vegan. Riding a bike doesn’t mean you can’t eat meat. End of story.

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  • Elly Blue August 16, 2009 at 12:35 am

    Hey all,

    This is not the place to get into a sustainability arms race. Lets keep on talking about bike issues related to this post. Feel free to open up a forum topic if you’d like to continue discussing carbon footprints in comparative perspective.


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  • jim August 16, 2009 at 1:21 am

    what if someone made an oscar meyer weenie bike- could they ride it in the drive trough?

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  • jim August 16, 2009 at 1:22 am


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  • Todd Boulanger August 16, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Yes this is good news…when I was at the City of Vancouver…I started discussions with BV on this issue [it seemed in conflict with their corporate sustainability policies], as I was getting conflicting service as a bicyclist customer (often great though a few ‘sorry it not allowed’).

    When I was also providing transportation staff comment on ‘parking lot safety and circulation’ for new drive thrus and renovations it seemed odd that these new facilities could not be designed to be ‘safe’ for bikes and peds…if they were meeting our design approval?! So then once approved these facilities should be able to safely serve bikes and peds…my thinking…but not reflected in their operation once built.

    [I often wondered if a local ADA advocate or a person in a wheelchair were to be denied late night service (when the ADA compliant doorway was locked) at a drive up window (without a vehicle) if this would lead to a change nationally for this policy and corporate design issues.]

    The issue of “walk up” robberies was another reason often thrown in my face as to why fast food corporations did not want my business. It seemed a bit of a pat easy answer.

    This brings up fond memories of our Pedal Palooza ride a few years back…the “Serve Me or Arrest Me” ride thru drive thrus in North Portland. We had good luck getting served at all drive thrus that night…perhaps there were too many bicyclists to ignore (and the lost sales too).

    Versus the Wendys on Lombard that once called the police on me when I asked for similar service by myself when the pedestrian door was closed one night…they did not have a window sticker nor printed policy they could show me about the no bike or walk up service policy…so I waited in line for my food holding up traffic.

    (I have not been back to Wendys since. I go to Burgerville about once a week now.)

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  • Todd Boulanger August 16, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Actually some banks have a similarly bizarre policy of non service…back in 1988 … I went to a bank in NJ to withdraw my money from my bank but the walk up door was closed so I rode to the open drive thru teller for service.

    They would not serve me. So I had to beg a driver behind me to let me sit in their car for the return of my money. (I closed my account with the bank soon after.)

    The funny thing about this is that I was making this withdrawal in order to buy a car!

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  • Mike August 16, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Here is a carbon calculator. If you pay attention, you’ll see what makes up the vast vast majority of your impact is how much you travel by air.

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  • Mike August 16, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Whoops, sorry – missed your post Elly

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  • ragold August 16, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    I was told while pulling up to the pick-up window of the Wendy’s on Sandy and 31st that they do not take orders from bicyclists because they had been robbed by them at the window in the past (something about being able to reach further into the restaurant than while seated in a car).

    This was a few months ago. In any case, they made an exception foe me, they said.

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  • Adron August 16, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    It’s kind of twisted that at the root of this whole problem is insurance & the legislative structure that allows people to run the insurance rates up or cause absurd rules around the insurance. We don’t need to fix “business” they’ll serve whoever has money. The problem here is the legal structure and the insurance structure that are built around the screwed up legal structure. Fix that and we all gain more empowerment to ride and such.

    …anyway, just saying.

    I might actually swing into a Burgerville via bike since this went through.

    The other irony I find here is this. In Mississippi you can pretty much go through whatever drive through you want to. It doesn’t matter – a place will serve ya long as ya pay…

    …I find it funny when one of the most notoriously backwards states in the country is more progressive in “common sense” than Oregon is…

    …the irony of that.

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  • OnTheRoad August 17, 2009 at 9:16 am

    Re: the safety and liability issue.

    In some states in the Midwest, you can swing by a drive-thru and buy beer and bottles of hard liquor.

    One friend from Missouri told me he had even gone through a drive-thru and gotten a mixed drink served to him!

    What possible twisted logic could the businesses and their insurance companies have put forth to justify that?

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  • Adron August 17, 2009 at 9:22 am

    OnTheRoad – Insurance companies, businesses…

    Tis one of the benefits of small towns. The people come first, unlike in the city where the “tribe” comes first. The secondary conversations of insurance and such come after simple human to human interaction.

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  • Brian Johnson August 17, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I live a few blocks away from a Wells Fargo branch. I used to use the “drive through” to deposit my paychecks– it was faster and more convenient (the whole point) plus there was (is) no bike parking save for a single handicapped parking sign. Well one day, after sending my check through the pneumatic tube, I was told that I could no longer use the drive through. Plus, as a bonus I had to COME INSIDE to pick up my receipt.

    The branch manager told me that it was for my “safety” and that “sometimes cars come into the drive through way too fast”.

    So now I take an additional 5 minutes and go inside.

    Ultimately not a tremendous inconvenience — what’s 5 minutes? — but still annoying. The manager’s argument was specious– what if I had been a motorcycle rider?

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  • OnTheRoad August 17, 2009 at 11:04 am

    For drive-thru tales from another bank, see #3 entry in this Forum topic.

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  • Brad August 17, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Oh the humanity! I’ll take up this very important fight for fast food and banking access just as soon as we get some trivial stuff done like stronger vehicular homicide and vulnerable roadway user protections.

    Write somebody! Post in a blog! Create a tweet!!! This injustice must not stand!!!

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  • jami August 19, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    I’ve had better luck getting served at those little drive-thru coffee stands in the ‘burbs on a bike than at either the Burgerville or Burger King just off the Hawthorne Bridge. Usually the baristas seem to enjoy the novelty of a weird bike lady and they don’t have bored/fearful managers breathing down their necks, making up idiotic rules as they go along, like I assume they have at the burger establishments (where I eat veggie burgers, for the record).

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  • Guerrilla Giving September 16, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    This is fantastic. I’m still sore about a night in Winnipeg, MB, Canada a number of years ago when I tried to cycle thru at Wendys at 2 am. They denied me my order and insisted I needed to come back in a car. Nothing else was open at that hour. I went back to my hotel room and gorged on potato chips and nibs–probably more nutritous than what I could have found at Wendys anyway. All that to say, congrats on the victory!

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  • […] BikePortland.Org: Responding to last month’s biking momma drive-thru debacle, Burgerville has announced that they’ll welcome people on bikes to each of their 37 drive-thrus […]

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