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Walgreens refuses bicycle riders at outdoor service windows – UPDATED

Posted by on May 9th, 2013 at 1:38 pm

“I thought it kind of strange that bikers can’t enjoy the same convenience as drivers.”
— Brenda H. on being refused service at Walgreens

People in Portland who shop at Walgreens stores on a bicycle are being refused service at outdoor service windows (also known as drive-thrus). Several people have contacted BikePortland over the years to report such incidents, and this morning we learned of another one.

Here’s what Houston Bolles posted to a local email list this morning:

I needed to pick up an RX last evening. The weather was so sweet, I decided to ride through the drive through at the 39th and Belmont Walgreen’s, instead of locking up my bike and going in. I was informed by a pharmacy clerk that Walgreen’s does not serve customers on bicycles at the drive through. I told him that this was unacceptable, and needed to change. He called his manager over, who explained that the issue is about insurance rates, and he could not help me at the drive up window for the same reason he’s not allowed to chase shoplifters once they are out the front door. I questioned his logic. He appeared confused. I explained that the drive through at his location went in over loud neighborhood protest, many people in the surrounding community use bicycles for transportation, and that his company needs to change the policy. I related the story of Burgerville’s change of heart and free milkshakes for cyclists. He said he would report my request to his manager. The drive through has been open a couple of months, I believe, and I am the first rider to try to use it.

Bolles encouraged other people to use the drive through with their bikes and even suggested including the store as a stop on a future Pedalpalooza ride.

After reading her story, I searched my inbox for other stories of people on bikes being refused service at one of the 10 Walgreens locations in Portland . I found several.

In December, 2012, reader Brenda H. got in touch with her story:

Any ideas about encouraging Walgreens to be bike friendly for their drive thru? I just tried to drop off a prescription and the manager, albeit nicely, told me that they don’t serve bikers through the drive thru because “it is not safe”. It is a well lit canopy – I thought it kind of strange that bikers can’t enjoy the same convenience as drivers (not having to lock up my bike, grab off all my bike lights, lug my commute bag full of clothes into the back of the store to the pharmacy).

And in August 2011, reader David A. shared his story:

This morning on my way to work I thought I’d swing by my local Walgreens Pharmacy at SE 82nd & Holgate to pick up a prescription. I thought I’d save some time like so many other users and use the convenient ride through window.

There was a button below the window with a note saying Do Not Push Button because a buzzer automatically sounds. After a minute or so of waiting I pushed the button and the clerk came to the window and told me that he was unable to wait on me because I was not in a motor vehicle. I said ‘you’re kidding’! He said No.

Steamed I went around to the entrance, parked my bike, and went inside. I forcefully, but politely, told the clerk I was ‘pissed’ about the inconvenience of having to come inside just because I was on my bike. When I got to the pharmacy window I asked why the policy. No, it wasn’t state law. It was company policy because someone somewhere might have been hit by a speeding motorist going through a drive-thru zone. Or so he thought. I told him I could use the Wells Fargo ride thru teller machine down the street, but I couldn’t use Walgreens ride thru window? Amazing.

This leads to all kinds of questions. Has anyone somewhere been hit while walking across their parking lots by a speeding motorist? Why not close all drive up windows and make all customers walk in for service at the pharmacy? It could be argued that Walgreens is in the health care business and drive up windows do not foster healthy life styles. The less we walk, or bike, the less healthy people are. Encouraging people to remain in their vehicles while the motor is running pollutes the air and promotes obesity. And Walgreens is in the health care business…

And finally, back in November 2009 my friend Kenji Sugahara shared this:

Tessa [his partner] was refused service at the drive through at a local Walgreen’s. She was told it was a “safety issue” and that it was “company policy” to ensure that she wasn’t “run over”. (This despite having many bright lights on her bike)

Given this pattern, it seems Walgreens is set in their policy. That’s unfortunate for them because they’re missing out on a large customer base that would prefer to use their outdoor service windows while upon a bicycle. As you might recall, local food chain Burgerville also used to not serve bike riders in their windows. But after that policy was made very public through the voice of a local writer and citizen activist, they reversed course and now embrace “bike-thru” customers. Even their CEO is singing cycling’s praises.

As for a solution at Walgreens, it might be much more difficult for them to change policy. Unlike Burgerville, Walgreens is a mega-company with thousands of locations throughout the U.S. Some people feel this could be solved via city or state ordinance that would require businesses to serve people on all types of vehicles at outdoor service windows.

I’ve called and email Walgreens corporate communications office to ask them about the policy. I’ll update this story when/if I hear back.

UPDATE, 2:49 pm, 5/9: From the testimony of several commenters below, it appears that some people on bikes have been served at Walgreens windows. This could be individual employees acting upon personal judgment, and/or it could be a sign that an actual policy preventing the company from serving bicycle riders doesn’t exist.

UPDATE, 12:00 pm 5/10:: I’ve heard back from Jim Graham from Walgreens corporate media relations office. He said, “I appreciate you letting us know about this matter. We are reviewing our policies in light of feedback we have heard from our bicycling customers.” Graham said he’d be in touch more about it next week.

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  • Scott May 9, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    bad idea, Walgreens… Haven’t we been down this road before?

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  • Peter W May 9, 2013 at 1:49 pm


    Some questions:

    – When were drive thrus invented?
    – Have pharmacies always had them?
    – Do countries in Europe that aren’t quite as obsessed with motor vehicles as the US have or permit as many drive thrus?
    – Should Portland permit as many of them as we do? Or should we permit ‘outdoor service windows’ to serve bike/ped traffic like the waffle window off Hawthorne?

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  • Babygorilla May 9, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Seems to me they are not really missing out on a large customer base.

    “The drive through has been open a couple of months, I believe, and I am the first rider to try to use it.”

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    • Spiffy May 9, 2013 at 2:08 pm

      since it’s generally known that drive-thrus don’t serve bicycles I wouldn’t have expected many people to try it… they have no idea how much business they’re missing out on, and they won’t know until they openly allow bikes…

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  • are May 9, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    bring your bike into the store. if they object, point out it is no larger than a shopping cart.

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    • pixelgate May 9, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      Other cyclists in this town are really beginning to embarrass me with antics like this.

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      • Houston Bolles May 10, 2013 at 9:31 am

        Really? Please tell me more. How did my polite request embarrass you?

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  • JL May 9, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    But they deem it safe for a motorcycle of any kind.

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    • Spiffy May 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      mopeds are allowed because they have a motor… but what if you pedal it through? are you then not allowed?

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      • Chris I May 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm

        What about a cargo bike. E-assist cargo bike? They are larger than mopeds, and they have motors. What about an electric moped? It seems like they need a policy revision… I’m sure this is fine in Tulsa, but Portland has a lot of grey areas…

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        • Joe Adamski May 9, 2013 at 5:43 pm

          Its probably not fine in Tulsa either, but except for Paul Tay down there, few push the issue. This IS Portland, after all.

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  • Mike Healey May 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Macdonalds have the same policy in the UK. According to one branch manager, they were afraid that a bike customer might be hurt by trying to ride off with a burger in one hand and a drink in the other.

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    • Kirk May 9, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      It’s good to know that a person driving a car would be able to safely take on the task of holding a steering wheel with food in both of their hands 😉

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      • buny May 9, 2013 at 4:50 pm

        the BK on 50th & powell actually has a sign that prohibits freakbikes from using the drive thru, not sure if they ban normal bikes tho…

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    • dr2chase May 9, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Ha. I can ride my bike no-hands for miles. Try that in a car.

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  • Spiffy May 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    as I responded to this discussion on the shift list an hour ago, the Walgreen in Vancouver at NE 114th and NE Fourth Plain allows people to use the drive-thru window… my friend lives near there and has done it numerous times, once while I was biking with him…

    it’s misleading to blame this story on Walgreens when it’s not store-specific… Burgerville is the only business with a drive-thru that I’ve ever heard of that openly allows bicycles… it’s unfair to target Walgreens when the majority (over 90%?) of drive-thru windows discriminate against bikes…

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  • John Lascurettes May 9, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I could also be “run over” using operating my bike while taking he full lane on the street. It’s still legal and protected. The business should not be liable for a driver hitting a cyclist in the drive through – the driver should be.

    Someone go through with an eBike and then tell them is is</motorized. 🙂

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    • John Lascurettes May 9, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      Stated another way:
      Should I hold the city or ODOT responsible if, while legally riding my bike on city streets, a driver hits me with her car? Hint: nope!

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      • are May 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm

        hold that thought. there is such a thing as bad facilities design, for which a municipality might be held liable.

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  • A.K. May 9, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Idiocracy in action. People cannot make simple, easy decisions because they are stymied by lame corporate policies crafted by lawyers afraid of lawsuits.

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  • Jamie May 9, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Yeah, as opposed to having someone *drive* off with a burger in one hand and a drink in the other…

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    • Jamie May 9, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      whoops this should be a reply to Mike Healey’s comment above.

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  • Tim May 9, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I received similar treatment at a Fred Meyer. While they did allow me to get my prescription they said to not do it again because it wasn’t allowed.

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    • Ken Woodside May 9, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      Same here. The one on 68th-ish and Glisan.

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  • Rian May 9, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Interesting her that Walgreens is inconsistent. I frequently use the ride-thru at 39th & Holgate and they’ve always served we without issue.

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    • Rian May 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      In fact now that I think about it, I’ve used the ride-thru at the location on SW 234th & TV Hwy out in Hillsboro/Beaverton as well.

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    • Kirsten May 9, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      Me too!

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    • Bike Everywhere May 12, 2013 at 11:05 am

      I have taken my bike through the drive-through window at the Walgreens in Beaverton at Murray and Scholls Ferry for years. I have always been treated politely and considerately.

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  • JL May 9, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    Perhaps they shouldn’t allow walking in the parking lot if they are worried about people getting hit…

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  • DNF May 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    “This could be individual employees acting upon personal judgment, and/or it could be a sign that an actual policy preventing the company from serving bicycle riders doesn’t exist.”

    Couldn’t it just as easily be “employees don’t know the company policy exists and decide to do it anyway”?”

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  • Paul Cone May 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Unlike locally owned Burgerville, who gets the local culture (after educating of course), Walgreen’s is based in Illinois and uses the same carbon-copy experience for all of their thousands stores. So I would guess that the local manager has much sway in what they can do. And usually Walgreen’s is staffed by like one manager, a couple of people in the pharmacy, and maybe two or three other employees. They do not fit the mold of locally owned at all — they’re basically like Walmart in my mind. I take my business to Fred Meyer, where at least the employees are unionized.

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  • Allan May 9, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    It seems like state or city law could solve this problem. Just make it illegal for drive-thru’s to not serve folks on foot or bike.

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    • Bjorn May 9, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      I agree, rather than trying to deal with this on a drivethru by drivethru basis it seems like a city ordinance requiring all such facilities to serve both walk up and bike up customers as well as those in cars would fix the problem city wide.

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  • Backmarker May 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    Great job, Bolles. Kudos for bringing the manager to “confusion”. You showed real backbone demanding of the clerk that this was “unacceptable and needed to change.” I assume you’re also thorough in bawling out the folks at the counter when you try to order something not on the menu and they don’t accommodate you? Shame on the messenger for not taking up your cause and saying “Damn my job! Damn management back up the line! We have a policy, but you are clearly awesome, and *this*, *this* is my cause to fight for!”

    Write a letter to Walgreens. Ask bikeportland to call for a campaign of letter-writing or boycott. In short, complain at the people who have some say in the matter. Don’t pat yourself on the back for yelling at the folks who have the joy of enforcing a stupid rule.

    Deleting RSS feed. I don’t want all this aggravation associated with cycling. I like to ride. More people should ride. Often, I don’t think we look like a group someone reasonable would want to join.

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    • spare_wheel May 10, 2013 at 8:43 am

      “complain at the people who have some say in the matter.”

      like managers?

      “Don’t pat yourself on the back for yelling at the folks”

      i read through the entire quote and could not find the section where bolles was “yelling at the folks”.

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      • Houston Bolles May 10, 2013 at 9:00 am

        Yeah, I didn’t yell at anybody. The manager told me that he also rode his bike to work that day, so he was sympathetic. I was very polite to both of the employees I spoke with, they they seemed uncomfortable with enforcing a lame policy. And for the hater above, any time somebody gets confused when his logic is questioned is win for rational people everywhere. He can’t serve a cyclist at the drive through for the same reason he can’t chase a shoplifter into the parking lot? “It’s insurance” with a shoulder shrug? Really? I call bullshit.

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  • rolinon May 9, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Never had a problem at Bi-Mart’s walk-up (ride-up) window. Just sayin.

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  • Livellie May 9, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I’ve shopped that Walgreens before. There’s bike racks right by the front door. Easy-peasy.

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    • Jimmy May 9, 2013 at 4:10 pm

      But far easier to use the window and not lock up, remove anything of value (lights, bags, etc).

      I say try it again in July after a century ride. Then, after being asked to go inside, go inside and loiter around the cash registers for 30 minutes or so.

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    • q`Tzal May 9, 2013 at 11:42 pm

      Same goes for cars and trucks. Park `em and get out to enjoy the parking lot smog. Easy-peasy.
      We could all stand the extra calories burned by a few extra steps.
      If you are so busy that you can’t stop get your drugs shipped home on the mail order service; it’s cheaper that way too.

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  • Granpa May 9, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    I have gotten prescriptions at the drive through at the Rite-Aid at 39th and Holgate several times. Not only did they take in stride, they packaged the prescription, debit card and receipt in a manner that was convenient.

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  • Joe Adamski May 9, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    St Johns, in its design overlay for the area prohibits any new drive through s , old ones are ‘grandfathered in’. When any area goes through design process, pushing for the refusal of new drive through s should be a big part of the livability piece. Inclusion in a neighborhoods ‘master plan’ promotes idling cars and additional pollution. It also is another obstacle to walkable streets. I constantly dodge drivers at the McDonalds at N Ida/Lombard coming out of the drive through. Distracted by the tasty treats in the bag, safe driving becomes a secondary consideration.

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  • Adam May 9, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    This is the same Walgreens location that constantly blocks the bike racks with piles of towering bedding plants, chained billboard signs advertising flu shots, etc etc, making it nigh impossible to lock your bike up outside the store in summer months. If they don’t want bikers to use their drive-through, then the least they could do is NOT make the bike racks impossible to use.

    I was so disheartened when that drive-through went in last year at 39th & Belmont, that I cut up my Walgreens card, and have not shopped there since. And I urge you to do the same. Fred Meyer is a scant few blocks away, has a pharmacy, and has oooodles of bike parking.

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  • Svati May 9, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Ah, I love the smell of Portland cyclist martyrdom in the morning! I’ve been using the drive-thru at Walgreens at 39th & Holgate for years without any trouble. Rivermark Community Credit Union on Hawthorne has a bike-up window as well.

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  • shirtsoff May 9, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Since bicycles can operate as “vehicles” under Oregon law then it would seem that the drive through is obligated to service bikes as such.

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  • was carless May 9, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    We need a state law passed mandating businesses serve cyclists at all drive thrus. Wait, would that be considered anti-business??

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  • Kenji May 9, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Happy to report that the Walgreens in West Salem now happily accepts cyclists at their drive through! Also know that one of their pharmacy techs is a cyclist too!

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  • q`Tzal May 9, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Walgreens “Contact Us” page:
    I looked under (Customer Service/Store Service/Store Management) but it seems to want a specific store for follow up.
    I’m thinking that (Customer Service/Other Service/Corporate) or (Customer Service/Other Service/District / Operations) might be the best bet.

    Personally I’ve had it go both ways with local Walgreens in Portland. This seems to be a corporate education issue… or lack thereof.

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  • Goretex Guy May 10, 2013 at 7:03 am

    Maybe they heard about this incident published on the Seattle Cycle Blog:

    Here’s a bizarre report from Capitol Hill Seattle:

    A clerk at the Harvard Market Bartell’s sustained minor injuries Saturday night when a man with a red mohawk and riding a bicycle inside the store attempted to steal a phone and make his getaway on wheels. According to the police report, the woman and another employee were able to recover the phone when the mohawked man crashed in the parking lot before riding from the scene on Harvard.

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  • JNE May 10, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Great gravy – this really is a silly whine-fest. For the love of Mike, just lock up your bike and walk into the bleeding store. Not exactly being told to sit in the back of the bus here. There are so, so, so many more important policy issues that warrant serious discussion. This is just more fodder for Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen. All they have to do is cut and paste the above comments and story into their next script.

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    • spare_wheel May 10, 2013 at 10:37 am

      “There are so, so, so many more important policy issues that warrant serious discussion.”

      And yet you are commenting here…

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    • Houston Bolles May 10, 2013 at 10:42 am

      I forgot to mention that the prescription was for my pet chicken who was riding on my shoulder.

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      • Alan 1.0 May 10, 2013 at 11:28 am


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    • Bike Everywhere May 12, 2013 at 11:12 am

      I would normally agree with you, but generally my Walgreens stop is the last on a long list of errands I run on my bike. This means my panniers and rack are loaded to the max. Removing everything and locking my bike to prevent theft is a huge inconvenience.

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  • Editz May 10, 2013 at 10:04 am

    For those who have had positive Walgreen’s bike drive-thru experiences, please get the names and numbers of those store managers and forward them on to Houston so that he may share them with the Belmont manager.

    I’ll bet Walgreen’s Corporate doesn’t even have a blanket policy for this kind of thing. Faced with an unknown, managers generally take the safest path, because it’s their ass on the line should something end up going wrong.

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  • Lois Leveen May 10, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Why fight for the right to use a drive-through? Drive-through pharmacies are associated with errors in dispensing and taking medications. Pharmacists find drive-throughs impede their ability to provide legally required counseling to patients, making it difficult to ensure patients understand how to take medicine safely and effectively. Given the over two million prescription errors in the U.S. each year, eliminating the speed-over-safety of the drive-through is an important step for ensuring patients get correct medications and know how to take them properly. The state of Delaware has limited the use of drive-through dispensing because drive-through locations are targeted by abusers using forged prescriptions for addictive painkillers.

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    • Mike Cobb May 13, 2013 at 9:24 am

      That all makes sense Lois, but it’s the discrimination that matters. Drive-through pharmacies DO sound like a bad idea, but that’s an issue that exists on a level entirely separate from the equal rights issue. I will probably never use a pharmacy drive through on my bike and the difference in convenience between parking and riding through is not big – but again, beside the point. No matter how tiny the resultant burden is, nonsensical transportation discrimination like this is insidious and has no place in my community. It only retards the normalization of moving people and goods by bike. We’re dealing with an annoying harmful powerful paradigm here – it means little to our drug attainment convenience and means the world to how our society views bike transportation.

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  • KillMoto May 10, 2013 at 11:41 am

    When refused service ath the drive through, use the “separate but equal” main entrance to the store. Most of these doors are automatic and swing open wide – good thing, because you’ll be walking yor bike.

    Wince the pharmacy is at the back, be careful what isle you choose. Some are blocked by shoppers, advertising bump-outs, or a clerk stocking shelves. No need frustrating everyone by bringing your bike down a blocked isle.

    Picking up your scrip is easy at that point. If questioned about bringing the bike in, mention it’s an accomodation for your disability (mini is a family propensity towards metabolic syndrome; my doctor prescribed more aerobic exercise. I also have some balance issues, having the two wheels and a pair of brakes helps out immensely). If genuinely hassled, ask for their written policy on handicapped accomodations.

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  • scaryseth May 10, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Like the update that they are reviewing the policy. Hope to hear a further update from them soon.

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  • Spiffy May 10, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    UPDATE, 12:00 pm 5/10:: I’ve heard back from Jim Graham from Walgreens corporate media relations office. He said, “I appreciate you letting us know about this matter. We are reviewing our policies in light of feedback we have heard from our bicycling customers.” Graham said he’d be in touch more about it next week.

    it’s great that they’re considering it and didn’t just give a form-response saying it’s not allowed…

    I’m hoping that this effort from BikePortland results in a memo to stores letting them know that it’s ok to service bicycling customers at the outdoor window…

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  • ladyfleur May 10, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    The “speeding car in the drive-thru’ argument is a red herring. We all know cars drive much faster in parking lots than in drive-thrus.

    I think the unstated issue is robbery related. Cars and motorcycles have license plates that are generally captured by surveillance cameras. I don’t know how frequent drive-thru robberies are, but I’ve heard it used as an argument for a bike ban. Not a valid argument to me, btw.

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    • q`Tzal May 10, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      The “speeding car” argument can be reasonably extended to abolish all non-motor vehicle traffic from any location. If we can’t trust drivers to not hit a person on a bicycle how can we expect them to see a person WITHOUT a bicycle?

      I’d go to the other extreme: remove all motor vehicle access and parking. If inattentive drivers have to park on the street it isn’t on my property or liability insurance.

      If the problem is poor drivers why is it acceptable to punish everyone else?

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    • John Lascurettes May 11, 2013 at 11:27 am

      People that go into the store don’t have license plates either.

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  • Jeremy May 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Taco Bell has the same policy, though sometimes the individual store will bend the rules. Upsetting when all you want is that late night burrito fix but you can’t get it unless you are burning dinosaurs.

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  • Jolly Dodger May 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    The devil is in the details…
    1 – it must be ‘motorized’, like a moped? – how big a motor?
    2 – or ‘insurable’ motorized? (licensed ‘driver’ sized motor)?
    3- parking lot insurance rates differ from ‘drive thru’? (driving in all areas) – or is a customers auto liability supposed to be the reason?
    4 – what are the actual numbers for pedestrian/vehicle impacts and fender bender type (vs. #’s for statistics) & where do they most often occur? (i.e. – at the entry of the parking lot as opposed to the drive thru crosswalk, say)
    5 – & most importantly….(aren’t bicycles regarded as vehicles under Oregon Revised Statutes?)
    *Same rights of roadway usage should apply to all approved for use by local and state authorities – parking lot structures, drive-able roadway surfaces and adjacent paved areas meant for all ‘vehicles’ under this law.

    Why is this even an issue?….sue ’em, and let precedence be set.
    (we are traffic everywhere, not just in the bike lanes…damn-it.)

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  • carole May 10, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Back in 2002 or so, my boyfriend rode through the Taco Bell on Burnside and NW 21st to try and get a burrito. It was after 10pm and the store was closed–only the drive-thru was open. No dice, they would NOT sell him anything because he was on a bike. They said it was for the safety of the cashier. So then, my boyfriend gave $5 to the guy in the car behind him so he could get a burrito that way. Taco Bell called the cops and my boyfriend had to sit in the back of the cop car while the whole mess got sorted out, and he worried that his bike, unlocked and lying on the sidewalk, would get stolen. Luckily, it didn’t.

    I know this isn’t exactly a civil-rights issue, but geez, they didn’t have to be such jerks about the issue. Hooray for Burgerville for giving milkshakes to cyclists!

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  • Chris Sanderson May 11, 2013 at 5:23 am

    I live right across the street from this Walgreens. Their “We’ll get back to you” mantra is pretty much what you should expect. I have had an issue with them sweeping their parking lot at 6 am on a Saturday morning. The machine is loud, and it wakes me up. I walked over there to complain, but could not get a straight answer from an employee. They gave me a business card to their community guy, which has no email or direct contact information so I can express my frustration about the early morning noise. I do not consider them a good neighbor.

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  • GlowBoy May 11, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    What part of bikes are vehicles do people not understand? I know this is far from the top of our list of issues, but it just goes to show just how second-class-road-citizenry cyclists are still considered to be.

    And this one has always nagged at the back of my consciousness. I’ve been aware of it since I went through a Taco Bell drive-thru late at night on my bike, back in the 1980s in Minneapolis. The person on the other end of the intercom informed me that they weren’t supposed to serve people on bikes. I pressed the issue, reminding him that bikes are vehicles, and he ultimately decided to sell me a burrito anyway.

    And hiding behind some “safety” BS is just lame. As already pointed out, they let motorcycles through. I’m in a lot more danger from a runaway car in their parking lot – which they do allow – than in their drive-thru lane.

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  • TOM May 12, 2013 at 9:15 am

    BOA (bless their greedy little hearts) won’t allow bikes in the drive thru window either …guess that somehow I could break through that inch thick glass and rob the teller ?

    With the business climate the way it is, what place can afford to turn away customers with some bogus excuse ? To me, that attitude shows NOT wanting to be part of the community , just wanting it’s money.

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  • esther c May 13, 2013 at 6:56 am

    My husband has been refused service at the Interstate Fred Meyers drive thru. I have been told that its against their policy but since I’m there already they’ll serve me but please come in next time, and another time I was served without comment.

    They really might have a point about safety at the Interstate Freddys. The customers there in general seem to be murderous towards bikes. They very well might think that if a bike is there it is there legal right to just run them down if the bike happens to be where they would like to be in their car. Inevitably, people going into and coming out of their parking lot either right hook me or pull out in front of me as if I were invisible as I ride down Interstate.

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  • jim May 13, 2013 at 10:15 am

    There have been several times when I have been in a parking garage waiting to pay and the person behind me, looking in their purse or whatever had rolled into me. If I had been on a bike I would have possibly been injured. This rule set by the insurance company is made from experiances like this which cost them money to settle. It all makes sense

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    • Alan 1.0 May 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      The driver’s insurance would cover that case.

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      • esther c May 14, 2013 at 9:23 pm

        unless they didn’t have any.

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        • are May 14, 2013 at 11:09 pm

          which is the case with somewhere between one in seven and one in five drivers

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          • Alan 1.0 May 15, 2013 at 10:22 am

            If uninsured motorist claims roll back to Walgreens, then they’re paying for many damage and injury cases which happen in their parking lot and involve pedestrians, cars and bikes. One sixth of all collisions with a bike in a drive-through lane is a very small number, even in insurance risk terms, and jim’s explanation does not make sense to me.

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            • are May 15, 2013 at 1:07 pm

              i do not disagree, though i would note that it is possible the crash stats for uninsured drivers are higher than for insured.

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      • jim May 15, 2013 at 8:36 pm

        It might not cover a lawsuit of this type for an unsafe condition

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        • Pete July 2, 2015 at 4:07 pm

          I’m still waiting for proof that it’s unsafe.

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    • Pete July 2, 2015 at 4:03 pm

      There have been several times (actually, pretty much weekly) that I’ve ordered lunch at busy drive-thrus while on bicycle. Other than some exhaust fumes, the only thing I’ve encountered were drivers and attendants willing to chat it up. Nowhere have I seen drivers pay such close attention to what’s in front of them – I wish I could say the same on the roadways! The biggest problem you have to be aware of when biking through a drive-thru is whether you’ll be detected or not.

      Once, an assistant manager at a Wendy’s said “I don’t think you can ride your bike through here” as he handed me my burger. I went home and contacted his manager and asked for confirmation on their policy – to check with corporate and such – and I never heard back from them. I still stop at that Wendy’s once in a while and I haven’t been told anything since (even seeing the same assistant), but another one nearby has direct line of sight from the window to the menu so I just go to that one instead now.

      I am (seriously) still looking for evidence of a situation where a bicyclist has been injured in a drive-thru. Please post here any evidence you can find of this to help me (it is difficult with online search engines because of so many articles about people driving into buildings).

      Also, there must be something unique about your car, because I’ve frequently driven cars in busy traffic and lines at parking garages for many decades in cities from Boston and New York to San Fran and Seattle (let alone overseas business travel) and not once been rear-ended (even in Tel Aviv and Bangalore!).

      It remains my opinion that banning bikes from drive-thrus is a solution looking for a problem, and I’ve been searching for evidence to the contrary for quite some time.

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  • Chris February 19, 2014 at 8:54 am

    This happened to me yesterday in Fort Worth, TX. I was shocked, as I wasn’t doing anything wrong or illegal. The teller kept telling me that someone could hit me, when there was a car parked immediately behind me, clearly not hitting me. I think the proper response would have been to tell them I was on a motorcycle and that the longer I was standing there, the higher the likelihood that I would be “hit” in their drive-thru, but on my feet all I could think of was “it’s no different than being on the street”, which I don’t think really resonated with the teller.

    I politely (perhaps less than politely, but not angrily at least) declined to go inside and instead stood there with a friendly smile until someone agreed to help me on the condition that I don’t do it again, which is ridiculous and I’m totally going to do it again.

    Side-note: How many bikes do you think will fit in a Walgreens?

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  • Editor B January 7, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    A couple months ago here in New Orleans I took this picture at the Walgreens in Mid-City: https://www.flickr.com/photos/editor/16039460907/ Needless to say I’m steamed at this ridiculous policy. Working on a letter to the CEO. Any progress of which I should be aware?

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  • Suzanne July 2, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    And you can’t do it in Louisville, KY either! Tried today on July 2, 2015. Policy has not changed.

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