The City of Portland is not a fan of drive-through windows. For decades Portland has adopted regulations that limit how and where drive-throughs can be built.
City planners believe drive-throughs don’t serve the community’s best interests and that they lead to auto-oriented development that’s directly counter to adopted policy goals and dangerous for people on foot, on bike, and on mobility devices.
Now the city’s Planning and Sustainability Commission wants to ban new drive-throughs east of 80th Avenue and require all establishments that already have them to serve all customers, not just those using cars.
“Ideally, you can’t refuse service based on mode.”
— Chris Smith, Portland Planning and Sustainability Commissioner
Last June City Council adopted the 2035 Comprehensive Plan. Policy 4.24 prohibits drive-through facilities in the entire Central City and limits their development in close-in commercial districts in order to “support a pedestrian-oriented environment.”
At their August 23rd work session, members of the Planning and Sustainability Commission (PSC) voted on a package of amendments to the Comp Plan that take the drive-through regulations several steps forward.
The commission’s Comp Plan Early Implementation Package Recommendation (avaliable here) includes two new zoning code changes we’ll likely be hearing about a lot more in the weeks to come: An outright ban on new drive-throughs east of 80th Avenue, and a policy that would require businesses to serve customers who show up on bike, foot, or mobility devices. (You can see the language starting on page 192 of this PDF.)
Why ban new drive-throughs east of 80th? Here’s how a Bureau of Planning and Sustainability employee explained the PSC’s rationale during a City Council work session on September 15th (at 49:15 in this video):
“The logic of that was east Portland has a lot of low-income and communities of color… If you believe that those neighborhoods aren’t quite ready for mixed-use development from an economic point-of-view, we don’t want the auto-oriented fast food chain restaurants to be the only thing serving that population. The PSC were coming at it from a community development, local economic [point-of-view]. Let’s leave room for the local economy to devolop and not let it be dominated by chains which tend to be the drive-through kind of places.”
The PSC is concerned that too much of east Portland has been zoned as CE, Commercial Employment. It’s the only designation that allows new drive-throughs and specifically accomodates auto use. CE zoning was was expanded in east Portland thanks to lobbying by a group of business interests known as the Retail Task Force. The PSC sees the ban as one way to counter that expansion of CE zoning.
Another front of this battle against drive-throughs is multi-modal access.
One of the many subtle forms of discrimination that exists in our transportation system is how some retail businesses close to certain customers based soley on how they get around. You might have experienced this before at your local pharmacy or fast food restaurant: Only the drive-through window is open but you get denied service simply because you’re not in a car. This common practice discriminates against customers who show up via their feet, a bicycle, or a mobility device.
“That’s not O.K.,” said PSC Commissioner Chris Smith during an interview yesterday. “Ideally you can’t refuse service based on mode. In a city that aims to be less than 30 percent single-occupancy vehicle mode share, that’s just not cool.”
Smith and the PSC he sits on want to change this. Here’s the amendment they’ve recommended to city council:
33.224.070 Multi‐Modal Access
When a drive‐through facility is open and other pedestrian‐oriented customer entrances to the business are unavailable or locked, the drive‐through facility must serve customers using modes other than a vehicle such as pedestrians and bicyclists.
And it’s worth noting that the city’s definition of “pedestrians” includes an ADA access requirement. Also keep in mind that these zoning codes would apply to food establishments as well as banks, gas stations, pharmacies, and other retailers. Portland has about 308 drive-throughs citywide – about one-third of which are east of 80th.
When the new drive-through restrictions came up last spring, there was support from neighborhood groups (including East Portland Action Plan) and advocates (like Oregon Walks). But there was also a big backlash. The media grabbed hold of it and outrage followed. There was a Stop the Ban website and Facebook group and the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association even put out a press release saying that the provisions discriminated against, “Mothers with children, people with disabilities, and the elderly who rely on the convenience and accessibility that drive through locations provide.”
While lobby groups and some major retailers oppose any drive-through regulations, some companies don’t seem to mind at all. Burgerville, Fred Meyer, and Walgreens now explicitly allow bicycles in drive-throughs.
Even so, these new proposals are likely to start a fresh round of debates. It’s all part of the tension between Portland’s existing auto-oriented landscape and a future where cars are just an afterthought.
What do you think? City Council needs to hear your perspectives.
There are two public hearings coming up next month: October 6th and 13th at 2:00 pm at City Council Chambers (1221 SW 4th Avenue). You can also send in feedback via email to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject line “Comprehensive Plan Implementation”.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – email@example.com
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New construction for new drive-through businesses needs to be banned in all of the USA. Drive-thrus are an eyesore. However, I do like this new bicycle idea for existing drive/ride thrus.
While we’re at it, can we stop building schools with a drive thru lane? We have made drop off way too convenient.
West Sylvan Middle School, despite being adjacent to the Highway 26 multiuse path, has a jam of school buses and cars. However, students in the Lair Hill neighborhood of SW Portland attend that school and it is a very long walk or bike ride.
SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway / Farmington Road has become obliterated with drive-thrus.
“…SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway / Farmington Road has become obliterated with drive-thrus.” rick
On on Beav-Hillsdale, there are some businesses with drive-throughs. Without doing a count, I cant be sure, but I don’t think there are that many on this road between Scholl’s Ferry and Hwy 217. Under ten, I would guess. A couple at Western Ave… a few more I think at the Scholl’s Ferry intersection. The majority of businesses have sizable, adjoining parking lots, taking up lots of land.
Keeping in mind the question of whether drive-throughs have led to in this basically Beaverton area…to use Maus’s words referring to Portland’s efforts in that city: “… auto-oriented development that’s directly counter to adopted policy goals and dangerous for people on foot, on bike, and on mobility devices.
I don’t think drive through’s have had such an effect along the Beav-Hillsdale Hwy. On very busy thoroughfares like this one, where available land and right of way land is limited, drive throughs seem to me to simply to be a response to an enormously high level of motor vehicle road use, with very limited options for adding bike-pedestrian infrastructure to the road.
or the preschool on inner east Ankeny that has TWO drive-thru lanes? Good times.
Arleta Elementary closed the drive-thru lane years ago but has yet to remove the baffling one-way sign that accompanied it for some reason.
Our school (in SW) doesn’t have any parking of its own and the streets around it are used extensively by neighbors for their own parking (the cars stay there all day every day). In fact, it was a condition of the school moving into this location that we had to have a drop-off lane to make the neighbors happy. We do have a good percentage that walk or bike or tri-met, especially considering we draw from all over.
I would note that the way drive-throughs are defined in the zoning code, school drop off would NOT be defined as a drive-through (nor are Goodwill donation sites). You have to be ‘loading’ something. Unloading is not a drive-through.
Additionally, drive-thru service is considerably faster than walk-in service. Most fast food places have metrics and bonuses that are focused on how quickly you can get people served through the drive thru, but nothing similar for people who order inside.
For a ‘fun’ experiment, walk inside a Taco Bell and order food, and keep an eye on the car that orders food in the drive thru at the same time as you. Then count and see how many additional cars are served after that car before your food arrives. The last time I tried this it was 10 cars.
I saw the same thing when I went to a coffee business along BH Highway. A few customers in cars received their order before I did by the walk-up window.
This may be, but not always. It’s basically queueing theory- a drivethrough order is blocked by the slowest order in front of you.
many places have a separate drive-thru queue and separate line workers for drive-thru… they will even pull people off the inside queue and put them on drive-thru if the cars get too backed up…
They know that customers will drive somewhere else if the line is too long. But they have no idea what kind of line is backed up inside, and if you’ve already entered to find a long line, it’s unlikely that you’ll leave.
it’s the opposite for me…
once in the drive-thru you’re trapped in there… not a lot are built with an exit mid-way anymore…
if I go inside and there’s a huge line I’ll turn around and go somewhere else… I don’t like standing idly…
That’s because they put their “best” people on the drive thru. The idiots man the inside registers.
I used to work in the fast food industry. I found that I could serve a dozen or more people through the inside line than at the drive through during high volume times.
I have the opposite experience- always seems easier for me to just go in and I’ve never felt several cars got food while I waited.
a major problem I have with drive-thrus is that they are often set up to exit blindly into the street where you can’t see oncoming vehicles unless you’re blocking the sidewalk…
we shouldn’t be allowing those kinds of blind drive-thru exits to be built…
I’m looking at you Dutch Bros…
Dutch Brothers at SE Holgate at 26th is a perfect example. I ride westbound on the sidewalk and car front bumpers are queued right up to the back of sidewalk, because of the window location, but drivers cannot see peds or bike users on the sidewalk because of the building. It is super dangerous, not Vision Zero worthy. I’m talking to you City of Portland Bureau of Development Services.
Perfect example. I took my car through that drive-through recently. If you were the sidewalk cyclist I inadvertently blocked as I tried to pull out, I’m sorry. That’s a bad spot for a drive-through, for a few other reasons too.
that’s the most recent one I was thinking of… always see cars blocking the sidewalk there because they have no other choice…
they could have easily oriented the driveway differently to allow visibility…
Blocking sidewalks is bad, riding on sidewalks is bad. I’m looking at you, rainbike and Matti! Also at you, Dutch Bros and BDS! I’m looking at all of you!!!
Hey… what are you looking at?
ever ride on that bridge over the tracks on Holgate? I don’t blame people for biking on the sidewalk there, it’s scary even in a car… people are often going 45 mph due to road design…
That bridge is horrible. I take the sidewalk there too, though it puts you at risk of hitting one of the posts so thoughtfully placed along the way.
I’m looking at you, PBOT, and you UPRR! And you too, Spiffy!
I rode my bike over the St John’s Bridge once. Scared me shitless. Wind, huge trucks…. never again.
The Bikini Barista in Hillsboro seems to have done it right, being well away from the sidewalk. I’ve even ridden my bike through there a couple times with no complaints.
This has been going on at a new drive-thru across the street from my work in Vancouver for over a week. When I asked one of the employees who was in the parking lot about it he told me that Vancouver Police has required them to completely block the bike lane like this:
That’s a court case and lawsuit waiting to happen.
if I happened upon that illegal mess on my bike (or just walking by) I’d throw everything into the business’ yard as I have done many times before…
It is weirdly busy over there and they have 1-2 employees at least at lunch time in the parking lot trying to control the queue so as not to disrupt the other businesses in the lot, which is why I talked to the guy instead of just moving it. He told me he agreed that it was not a cool thing to do but that the police had told them they had to, I have no reason to think he was lying, it is vancouver after all.
Just take the sign and cones; problem solved. They must be trying to give them away. Why else would they put them in the street?
Wow. That’s some Grade A Bullsh**
Did they show documentation?
Bjorn, you have GOT to be kidding. Why would they want to block a lane of traffic like that?
I think they felt it would be safer as the cars turned out onto the road. Like many of the roads that actually go through in Vancouver it is a fast moving freeway of a roadway and they were far more worried about someone turning out in front of a car and getting rear ended than they were about the safety of cyclists trying to ride in the bike lane. I thought they were just going to do it opening day but it has been like this for some time now.
I had an experience like that. I hit the sign despite trying to maneuver around it. It was knocked down, and I was too. I then picked myself (and it) up. I sent it flying into their parking lot. The manager then came out and gave me $h1+ about it. I told them that if I got hurt, they’d be hearing from my lawyer, and that I will be posting a complaint to code services ASAP.
To my knowledge, the sign never blocked the path again.
***Comment deleted. Please don’t insult peoples’ appearance. Even if it’s just a joke. Thanks. — Jonathan. ***
(literally) let them eat cake?
my friends say I’m balding… it’s not an insult cuz it’s true… also, I’m fat, not an insult, just a fact…
In a sense, I think drive-throughs are a great idea, in that they can reduce the need for parking space, otherwise required if businesses want business from people that are traveling by motor vehicle; or bike as the case may be.
Big problem with drive throughs as they tend to be used: motor vehicles of the people in the line, waiting to be served, all generally have their motors running, idling away, fouling the air with exhaust and heat.
If the city’s big concern with drive throughs, is that it feels the option for their use, discourages business that support walking…further than from the parking lot to the business…I could understand such a concern. From what I’m reading in this story though, I’m not sure I’m seeing that this is a concern of the city. Looks like the city is interested in prioritizing businesses of a more extensive design than that of drive throughs, with big parking lots accompanying them. Cities tend to resign acres and acres of land to the provision of car parking areas, which otherwise are essentially, asphalt wastelands.
Well said. I’m often baffled by people idling their cars- while parked, at bridge lifts, in drivethroughs. I’m okay with it on progressively ancient vehicles, but in a moderate climate and a car built in the past decade? Hmm.
Saw a huge “EnviroShredNW” truck on Monday parked in front of our office with the engine for quite some time while the driver made his rounds to collect paper from the nearby businesses in the adjacent buildings. Whenever I see this I’m tempted to shut off the vehicle and take the keys.
Depending on how he had been driving it recently, some diesel engines need to idle for a while after driving at-speed, so that oil continues to flow through their turbos.
If you’d have just turned the keys off, you’d have run the chance of causing a lot of damage to the turbo on the truck.
How long is a while? All afternoon? I’ve seen contractor/moving/utility trucks running for hours in my neighborhood.
Maybe you can never turn them off.
When your boss pays for gas and it’s such a hassle to turn a key a 1/4 turn to the right when you climb back in the rig, I guess it makes sense.
an even better way to cut down on the need for a parking space is to cut down on the need to get there in a car…
all the best places I go have no parking except a couple public spots on the street…
This ban would just be east of 80th. And the reason they are focusing on this geographic area is because PSC believes there is too much CE zoning (the one that allows drive-throughs and isn’t all that great for bike/walk) in the new plan (thanks to the Retail Task Force, a group that pushed for CE expansion precisely because it allows auto-oriented development).
They need to add this ban to BH Highway and Barbur Blvd and Highway 43.
only east of 82nd where, as they say, more options are needed for non-car users… they already have restrictions for other areas of town… but other areas aren’t as car-oriented as the east side so they can still handle a few more drive-thrus without turning into a suburban mess like the east side…
How many members of the PSC live in the affected area?
At least one, Katie Larsell, in Argay.
I fully support any drive-thru ban in any part of town for 2 ( among many) reasons. The first is that it discourages the largest fast food chains ( they demolished and replaced an entire Mcdonalds in Cedar Hills to get one more drive thru lane) from locating here with their high fructose, GMO food. Secondly. it keeps us from allocating scarce resources to building infrastructure that will be uterly useless in a few years when happy motoring is over.
the McDonalds at which location? I heard the Taco Bell on BH Highway in Raleigh Hills was bulldozed and rebuilt to better accommodate a drive-thru. The bike lane became the same width but the sidewalk was widened and a new bus stop was built.
The Mcdonalds at the corner of Cedar Hills Blvd and Hall.
That McDonalds was torn down and rebuilt due to flooding issues. It would always flood, so they regraded the soil and rebuilt the building. It’s much higher now and even has a sidewalk in front where it didn’t before.
Here’s the article that explains it: http://portlandtribune.com/bvt/15-news/261250-132695-the-bridging-of-beaverton-creek
“…they demolished and replaced an entire McDonald’s in Cedar Hills to get one more drive thru lane) …” bikeninja
That’s not entirely true, and it’s an oversimplification of the reasons for the demo, redesign and rebuild of the mickey d’s on Cedar Hills Blvd and Hall Blvd. I don’t know all the reasons for the rebuild, but one that’s likely apparent to people that walked Hall Bld before, and after (and there are people that walk in this area.), is that on the restaurant lot’s east side, a sidewalk was added, where before there was only a curb and a small sliver of lawn.
What potential, good or bad, a ban on drive-throughs in this Beaverton area, might have for promoting more walking rather than driving, is something to think about. The restaurant in question is of course, located at the southern end of the huge Cedar Hills Crossing mall…years ago known by the less picturesque name, The Beaverton Mall. It is a huge mall, and is right now in the midst of a major linear expansion from its former northern terminus, Jenkins Rd, all the way, I think, to Walker Rd…a distance of roughly 8/10ths of a mile.
I think the bigger reason than drive throughs, that people don’t walk more of the length of the mall than they may be, is that the infrastructure for walking…and biking…through the lengthy mall property, is so very limited. To help reduce the massive amount of motor vehicle traffic through mall property, the mall owners should have been encouraged to design and build a spaciously sized pedestrian-bikeway, the length of the mall. McDonald’s remod design was a victory for people walking…a small one, but definitely a victory, to my feeling, worth the addition of an extra drive through lane.
Wow, an expansion? The inside is like a ghost town.
The expansion is at the north end of the property, several blocks from the internal ‘mall’ space which is indeed quieter every time I go in there. As someone who has walked end to end many times, I always feel I’m dodging cars who don’t like me crossing the lots but there’s been no other obvious way. A clear path would suit me well!
Maybe on the inside it’s empty seeming (I very rarely go in there.) but on the outsides of the mall, where many of the businesses open directly to, it’s a hive of activity. Much of the time, the parking lots are easily half full, and on weekends, are often at capacity. Drivethroughs probably help reduce congestion under those conditions.
A spacious pedestrian bike esplanade, could possibly help bring more customers on foot and bike from surrounding neighborhoods, to the mall. Another possible result of such a facility, may be that people driving to the mall might be more inclined to park just once, and walk the rest of the distance if they wanted to do things at different points along the length of the mall. As is, the sidewalk directly next to the mall structure, itself sees a fair bit of congestion.
I believe only one of my colleagues lives east of 80th. I would emphasize that the East Portland Action Plan group supported the ban. A core point in the discussion was that these sites could potentially convert to land uses that were more beneficial to the community.
Yes. East Portland needs a lot more pedestrian and transit-friendly development. Too many closed grocery store properties near there and Gresham.
“…A core point in the discussion was that these sites could potentially convert to land uses that were more beneficial to the community.” smith
“…City planners believe drive-throughs don’t serve the community’s best interests and that they lead to auto-oriented development that’s directly counter to adopted policy goals and dangerous for people on foot, on bike, and on mobility devices. …” bikeportland
What examples of land uses, more beneficial to the community and that served existing community needs, were discussed?
I’m not well familiar with community dynamics east of 80th ave in Portland, but I’m going to guess it may have a lot of motor vehicle traffic. That at least, is the situation in the example I’ve mentioned in some of my earlier posts to this discussion, out in Beaverton on the Cedar Hills Blvd, Hall Blvd axis.
Lots and lots of traffic, to capacity, actually…and it seems that in that increasingly common situation around big cities in the metro area, drive-throughs may actually be helping, at least to reduce parking availability in parking lots from being overwhelmed, and accompanying congestion as people drive around looking for a spot to park; instead in some cases, they slip in a drive through line for a few minutes, get their pizza, fast food, coffee, etc, and go.
I think the big thing missing, that results in support for drive-throughs in communities and neighborhoods, is that such pathetically small percents of land and street area is devoted to quality infrastructure for walking and biking throughout the community and neighborhood.
While certainly there are many people who for one or other reasons, may have to meet their travel needs with motor vehicles, there are possibly many others that would be delighted to walk or bike, if the experience presented by current type of infrastructure, was designed to be pleasant and healthy, and did not equate to the experience of walking in a kind of war zone.
Instead of banning drive throughs, cities might be far better off exerting their efforts towards working for major improvement in walk and bike infrastructure in their communities.
In the Albina Plan discussions in the early 90s, developers were asked by the City, “Why don’t you want to build more pedestrian-oriented projects on MLK?” One responded, “We’d love to. Give us some pedestrians and we will”. He had a point.
‘…developers were asked by the City, “Why don’t you want to build more pedestrian-oriented projects on MLK?” One responded, “We’d love to. Give us some pedestrians and we will”. He had a point.” q
That’s funny…funny sad. Familiar point of view though. Developers have money on the line, so of course many prefer the most sure thing, rather than something different that could turn out to be better for the community, and make more money than will the sure thing.
I don’t know NE well enough to have a sense of whether great pedestrian infrastructure would have more people walk than drive. I kind of know the Beaverton area I’ve referred to, and so I do think more people would walk and bike, if great pedestrian infrastructure were provided there. The conditions have to be right, for people to decide to walk and bike rather than drive.
I fail to see how banning drive thrus accomplishes anything. If people want to wait in a packed line rather than use a bunch more parking space, that’s great with me. If it makes life easier for people with mobility issues, that should be fine. Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks.
Cycle friendliness is important to me, but I have no interest in patronizing a business that doesn’t want to serve me.
A ban on the construction of new drive-thrus prevents the construction that encourages unsafe driving; driving while eating and drinking and take prescription pills.
People can and will do all those things regardless if there’s a drive through or not.
If you want people riding, show people what’s great about it. The anti car thing just pushes people away.
Then away they go, hopefully the midwest or further.
It doesn’t push people out of the area, it makes them unreceptive to any ideas you offer.
If you want to make as little progress as possible, the best strategy is to try to foist your way on others from a position of weakness.
Interesting that the proposed amendment says “modes other than a vehicle such as […] bicyclists”. Seems like that undermines the whole “bikes are vehicles” principle. Maybe “other than MOTOR vehicles” would be a better way to have put it.
One day when the oil is gone ( or too expensive to be useful), happy motoring is over and the great coastal cities are under water our decendents will be baffled ( and angry) that we covered the wetlands, forests, and fertile agricultural land with parking lots and drive thrus. And our explanation will be equaly baffling. You see, we had to have them because people got little exercise motoring to the drive thrus to eat unhealthy food, then when they got sick and were unable to walk, we had to have the drive thrus for them to use. I am sure it will make perfect sense to them.
I asked a young man last weekend why he needed to leave the engine running in his vehicle for 20 minutes while he stood next to it and got dressed for a bike race. He told me “to get a little heat” (his doors were open) and “to charge his phone”.
History will not look kindly upon us.
Many 6 year-olds are already baffled and angry about this nonsense.
The McDonald’s store at the strip mall on SE Oak St. just off Hwy. 224 recently added two drive thru lanes to prevent backups into the parking lot. (So did the one in King City off 99w; the Oak St. location is next to a former Albertson’s grocery store that is now boarded up and vacant.) Allowing bikes to use the drive thru makes sense, especially if it has two lanes on it. Banning all new drive thrus east of 80 Av. just makes no logical sense. A requirement that at least one lane of a two lane drive thru be open to bikes, wheelchairs, and peds at all times during regular business hours would help. My local DQ has a drive thru lane, but there is no “Cars Only, No Bikes” signage in evidence. I grew up visiting drive thru Fotomat locations that were pretty popular.
When did the Albertson’s close?
Don’t know, but I think it happened earlier this year. Comcast moved their customer service office serving Sellwood and Mikwaukie there back in the early part of thus year from a former location on McLoughlin/99E to Oak st. In Jan. or Feb. of this year. Albertson’s was still there at that time.
Yeah I remember that fun 2009 Pedal Palooza ride…at first when my office mates came to find me to tell me I was on BP…I thought it was our 2006 Pedal Palooza ride “Serve me! or Arrest Me!” ride testing the afterhours drive through service practices.
I for one have been threatened with arrest for protesting this by attempting to “purchase food while on-bike” in Portland (and other cities) when the main door has been closed.
When asked…I have been told that this industry practice is necessary as either a “user traffic safety” issue or as a “crime deterrent” issue. I would love for some PSU student to pull the data on this [sub]urban myth.
When I worked for the City of Vancouver providing staff comment on ADA/ pedestrian/ bicycle traffic circulation during development review for new drive-up developments…no developer or client engineer would agree that these drive-in routes were “unsafe” for bike or ped traffic when I asked…or else we would have asked for an alternative walk up service window…but when they opened it became a “safety issue”.
I’ve heard the safety argument many times. The most reasonable argument I could come up with is that someone might attempt to carry a hot coffee and breakfast sandwich in his hands and hurt himself rather than someone else (which is a big deal for liability reasons). Given the number of cyclists I see texting, this doesn’t seem that far fetched.
Rear end collisions do occasionally occur in drivethroughs. I don’t know if the establishment might absorb some of the liability for that if a cyclist were injured.
This article does bring up an interesting business practice that should be against state and federal law…to close an ADA accessible entrance(s) thus denying service to ADA patrons who happen to not be in a motor vehicle while other patrons are still served while seated in a car.
Furthermore…Most if not all US drive up service windows are NOT ADA accessible for wheelchair users sans vehicle as such but somehow these facilities are still allowed to be designed this way AND the ADA accessible route (pedestrian door) closed for late night service…thus no alternative route exists especially with this policy. It would be a different issue if both the walk up door and drive-thru operated during the same time periods.
As a first step…The City of Portland (as other cities) could deal with this as a ordinance by which no drive-through could operate while the ADA accessible entrance has been closed (aka difference hours of operations). They can also choose to add active transportation users too as an environmental policy.
I would love to work on this issue with a local legal firm as an expert witness…let me know…
…you can LinkedIn with me or contact me through BikePortland.
It seems like you have a good point. Imagine a fast-food place that opens at 10 AM and closes its interior counter at 9 PM but keeps the drive-thru open until midnight. A sign that accurately describes this would be “OPEN 10 AM TO MIDNIGHT. ACCESSIBLE ENTRANCE CLOSES AT 9 PM”. That doesn’t sound like it would fly, any more than any other business closing accessible dining areas, restrooms, locker rooms or whatever early, while continuing to serve patrons not needing accessible areas.
PS. As for the photo – its a Muchas Gracias location…abusiness that serves all modes in their drive-thru for many years – thus a leader on this issue.
Iconically…this location also happens to be the oldest purpose built fast food drive thru in Clark County and perhaps in the greater Vancouver[-Portland] metro region…dating back to 1949 and designed by Walter Hilborn (Kiggins Theater, Clark County Courthouse, etc.)
I wholeheartedly agree that pedestrians and bicyclists should have access to the “drive-thru lane,” and I certainly agree that many drive-thru lanes are not well configured. However, I am not convinced that drive-thru lanes should be banned. Two issues come to mind.
People with restricted abilities, such as difficulty walking, find drive-thru aisles at establishments to be very useful, especially when the handicapped parking is all occupied, terribly inconvenient because of terrain, distance, etc. I’ve become lots more attentive to this due to my mother’s restricted, long-term disabilities and having had temporary conditions myself. My mother gratefully uses the drive-up at the pharmacy. It’s a heck of a lot more convenient than parking and navigating through 200 feet of aisle to get to the pharmacy counter while using her cane or walker.
Secondly, if someone is going to buy coffee or fast food, how much more land area and impervious surface will be needed for the parking lot as opposed to the drive-thru? Or are people going to start brewing and cooking healthy alternatives at home? Just a consideration. Maybe someone can enlighten me with studies of how customers have responded to different configurations for such establishments.
if you have so much trouble with mobility that you NEED a drive-thru then you shouldn’t be driving… there are other options for those with less ability…
I wouldn’t agree with that. But I would note that the Commission on Disability opted not to weigh in on restriction of drive-throughs. My understanding is that there are competing priorities. Drive-throughs are convenient/helpful for some, but degrade the environment for others.
Why would you say that? Is someone in a wheelchair, for example, unable to drive safely?
Does this mean people will be allowed to walk or stand with their bike in between idling cars with drivers who might not be expecting a person to be just around the blind corner if they aren’t in a big steel cage ? Hooray. Sounds pleasant. At a minimum any new drive through permitted should have a walk/roll up window that has a curb to delineate where people are expected to be.
For existing establishments, if after five years they haven’t added this sort of walk/roll up window, if they have a parking lot the drive through should be closed to cars (how will vary on the place, often as simple as parking an employee’s car in the right place) when the inside of the store closes. People arriving by car can park and join those who reached the establishment without a car and use the night time car free walk/roll up window.
Ignoring that lines inside are often faster because so many people take the drivethrough, the logistics of getting a person in a car near a business is different than a person on foot or a bike. This is especially true if the person in the car has any mobility issues, kids in car seats, etc.
If I were the businesses, I’d just say the walk up window is inside — where you also get protection from the elements and a wider range of needs can be served.
If you seek a tempest in a teapot, you may as well go after the food carts for being too high to be convenient for wheelchair bound patrons and failing to provide menus in Braille.
I ride East on springwater and divert at Bell Station onto JCBVLD. Since I’m diabetic, the Taco Bell on 82nd & JCBVLD is an ideal place to grab a coke and raise my blood-sugar levels.
Their drive thru lane crosses the entry from the street. I’d guess that 90% of the times I’ve visited, the path has been blocked by vehicles.
IMHO, just a simple DO NOT BLOCK THE PATH sign on the same existing pole as the height limit sign would work.
I made this suggestion on their feedback site. NO joy. Then I’ve addressed this concern twice to the owner (yes, I recognize by sight) and he nods YES, YES and then nothing ever happens.
So I just wait & wait until the vehicles move so I can cross in. Some drivers even look cross that they have to let me pass before they can move up in line to eventually order. 🙁
Too bad we have no bigger problems in Portland.
Actually, the exact opposite.
When the hot topic of the day is demanding that pedestrians can stand in a drive through line (which generally requires more walking than just going to the counter), you know we must be sitting pretty.
I’d recommend you re-read the article. The requirement that drive-throughs serve people walking or biking applies only when the inside service is closed – so the amount of walking is irrelevant, as you would be unable to get service at such times without a motor vehicle at present.
In all honesty, I didn’t read the article. But if the hot issue of the day is whether cyclists and peds can use drive throughs late at night, I still say we must be in pretty good shape.
Surely we have time to discuss lots of issues without picking just one. If you’re not interested in this issue, there are others to choose from.
I like it! Now lets apply it to the whole cty. Drive-thrus require large wrap around lots that ruin walkability.
I’m all for letting everyone use the drive-thru window when the other entrances are closed.
I’m not a big fan of trying to achieve good development by banning what is thought to be bad. Less desirable development (drive-thrus, low density, etc.) is often a transitional phase. Banning it can end up delaying the good development.
Mostly, I don’t like people from outside a neighborhood telling those within it what’s good for them.
The drive through: In transition since 1947.
And I’m sure all the business owners and managers in the Retail Task Force who lobbied for the surfeit of CE zoning in East Portland live in East Portland.
I live in East Portland, and I’m pretty sure the vast majority of my neighbors could care less about this issue either way but to the extent that anyone cares I’d bet the opinions are more in favor of banning drive-throughs than opposed. We have plenty of strip malls and drive-throughs; what we don’t have are close-by grocery stores or walkable business districts.
The question is, does banning them help create the more desired development?
Also, what about a business (branch bank, pharmacy, coffee shop) that would be desirable for non-auto users wants to include a drive-up window, and prohibiting that means they don’t do the project, or delay doing it for a few years?
In the first year after the Dutch Bros opened on BH Highway near SW Shattuck Road, people were parking their cars in the bike lane adjacent to the walk-up window.
This new ban needs to apply to all of Portland.
The businesses are partly to blame here. If they don’t want cyclists in the drive through for whatever reason, they should proclaim the drive through is the preferred service point for cyclists.
The BP community would be guaranteed to scream bloody murder on safety, convenience, and philosophical grounds and insist on using the counters inside.
It isn’t about people who aren’t driving a car at that moment choosing the drive thru over going inside, it is about when they close the inside part of the restaurant but continue to be open for the drive through lane. People should have the option to patronize a business without getting behind the wheel, if for no other reason than often when this situation arises it is at night, when people may have been drinking and they really shouldn’t be driving anywhere.
Yes. If the question is framed as, “Should bikes and pedestrians be allowed to use the drive-up window?” it sounds like they’re asking for a favor. Framing it as “Should businesses be allowed to cut off service early to everyone not in a car?” is at least equally accurate, but shows the issue in a whole other light.
What seems to be a fundamental fact of apparently a lot of businesses that use drive-throughs, is that they may not feel they really need the business arriving from people biking or walking. If they really needed or wanted this business, they likely would do everything they could to allow and welcome people on foot or bike, to conduct business through drivethrough windows.
How many people complaining here have owned or even worked at a business with such a window? I have, and at least my experience is that the reasons driving this are purely practical and that anything requiring additional facilities or staff would cause at least some of these to just not serve at those times.
As to walking or cycling in a drive through lane late at night, I would be leery of doing that. There are a lot of drunk and stoned people on the roads at that time.
I sometimes ride late at night. There is nothing unusual for me about riding miles and seeing zero other cyclists even when the weather is good. Even when I do see some, there are very few.
While it blows to not be able to get what you want, I just don’t see the benefit in forcing businesses to support a use case that’s barely there.
If you want to get up in arms about something, how about the ridiculously early closing hours for liquor stores? It’s not like that stops people from drinking.
If liquor stores closed at 7pm for drivers and 5pm for people on foot, that would be lame.
I agree. But in normal states, you can actually buy spirits late at night. I suspect this particular limit is something pushed through by the beer and wine lobbies.
BTW, did you know you can find drive through liquor stores in some states?
Oregon liquor stores are required to be open by noon M-S and stay open 8 hours until 6pm. They don’t have to close until 10.
What defines a “normal” state? AFAICT, most of them are very nearly parallel to the earth’s surface.
Oregon is not the only state that does things the way we do, but in normal states, you aren’t forced to buy liquor in particular stores. They have this concept of “liquor licenses” that seems to work well. The businesses that buy the licenses close whenever seems best, though local regulations may apply.
If you agree that it would be lame for liquor stores to stay open later for drivers than for people on foot, why isn’t it lame for fast food places to stay open later for drivers than for people on foot, or on bikes?
For one, it’s really hard to get loaded on fast food.
“While it blows to not be able to get what you want, I just don’t see the benefit in forcing businesses to support a use case that’s barely there.”
Exactly! That’s why the ADA requirements that force businesses to spend a lot to accommodate a few disabled customers are ridiculous! So are the Title 9 rules that forced colleges to fund sports for women, when everyone knew women didn’t want to play sports! I’m being facetious for those not sure…
Comparing a cyclist with a disabled person is ridiculous. Unless we’re talking cognitive disabilities…
Why is it ridiculous?
For starters, cyclists are not a class of people disadvantaged by something they have no control over.
If we’re worried about drive throughs, may as well worry about the fact that businesses often offer auto parking without providing bike lockup facilities.
Wow, 14 comments on a topic you’re not interested in.
Kyle–you said, “If we’re worried about drive throughs, may as well worry about the fact that businesses often offer auto parking without providing bike lockup facilities.”
Earlier, you said, “If you want to get up in arms about something, how about the ridiculously early closing hours for liquor stores?”
How about focusing on drive-throughs, which after all are what the article is about?
And the dumb thing about your reference to “lockup facilities” (which I assume means bike racks or lockers)? The City already requires businesses that provide auto parking to provide bike “lockup facilities”.
Since the City has already decided it’s reasonable to require businesses to provide bike parking if they provide auto parking, it’s at least a bit weird to allow those businesses to bar bikers (or pedestrians) from service because they’re not in cars.
The comparison isn’t ridiculous at all. Neither is the one with Title 9 and women student-athletes. One of the main arguments against both the ADA and Title 9 was the same argument you’re making now about drive-through rules–that the rules would force businesses (or colleges) to spend money to support user groups that are “barely there”. That argument was blown away in hundreds of thousands of thousands of examples since those rules were created.
And in the drive-through case, the accommodations needed to serve cyclists or pedestrians–either by allowing them to use the drive-through window, building another window, or simply keeping the interior counter open–are minimal compared to the costs associated with ADA or Title 9 compliance.
It is absolutely ridiculous as well as insulting to people who actually suffer from real disabilities and discrimination.
There are groups in our society that actually are marginalized/victimized. Cyclists definitely aren’t one of those groups.
You’re blowing things way out of proportion. Nobody is claiming the challenges cyclists face compare to those faced by people with disabilities, or that cyclists are marginalized or victimized anywhere near the extent others are.
You said “I just don’t see the benefit in forcing businesses to support a use case that’s barely there”, and I replied that that’s an argument that was used when ADA and Title 9 regulations were proposed–that the regulations forced expenditures to accommodate tiny user groups. In reality, it turned out those user groups (disabled people wanting access to facilities, and women who wanted to play collegiate sports) were enormous.
I think it’s obvious to everyone else that I wasn’t equating the challenges of not being able to use a drive-through window because you’re walking or on a bike with having a disability.
Then I am unclear on why those examples are chosen. Disabled people and women were suffer from real disadvantages and discrimination.
To me this is about what product/service a business offers such as a restaurant deciding its menu will have no reasonable vegetarian fare (it surprises me how common that is in Portland). As a percentage of the population, there are a lot more people wanting vegetarian food than cyclists wishing to go through drive throughs, and vegetarianism often has religious or cultural dimensions.
I think a vegetarian is shopping for something specific when it comes to food, so not having that on the menu isn’t the same as refusing to serve someone who arrives without a car. Offering no tacos for sale at your burger drive-through is not discriminatory.
Kyle–maybe this will help you understand. I never compared being a cyclist with being disabled. I was comparing YOUR stance that you “just don’t see the benefit in forcing businesses to support a use case that’s barely there” with the similar misguided stance people had to ADA and Title 9 regulations.
Those people who argued the demand by disabled people and women athletes was “barely there” were proven wrong in countless cases. But we might never had known that if those regulations hadn’t been enacted to require serving those populations.
Kyle–your vegetarianism comparison doesn’t make sense. You seem blinded by your mistaken view that I’ve been comparing cyclists not being able to use drive-throughs with being disabled.
This is about development and zoning. The zoning code has restrictions on drive-throughs because they have some significant negative impacts on the environment and the people around them. It’s reasonable for the City to ask for some limits in return for giving a property owner the right to build a drive-through. Requiring that a business serve non-auto users during the hours a drive-through is open is a reasonable requirement.
The zoning code has numerous similar regulations for other types of development–if you want to build a particular type of structure or component, you must accept limitations or conditions on its use.
“…If we’re worried about drive throughs, may as well worry about the fact that businesses often offer auto parking without providing bike lockup facilities.” banerjee
Not much point in worrying about it…doing something about it would be much better…but businesses… more importantly city and citizen leaders not taking more assertive action than is done to develop better bike parking, is definitely an issue.
How serious an issue it is, I’m not sure. Poor infrastructure for biking…that is, poor bike lanes and poor parking options located at or near to high business activity points…like fast food restaurants or major city shopping malls…could possibly be overlooking potential for additional business, and reduction in excessive use of motor vehicles, as well.
Good bike parking is harder to provide than good car parking, I’d say. But if what bike parking is available is tapped out, logically, it would seem that would be ever more reason for businesses to want to serve, at the drive through window, people riding bikes. Unless of course, as I wrote earlier…the business is not there.