Ban Drive-Throughs

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It's the only solution to a pressing problem

So St. John's City Council has voted for a moratorium on new applications for drive throughs at Tom Horton's outlets.

Big deal, says I.

It's too little, too late. The horses are already out of the barn. The city is already saturated with Tom Horton's stores, many with drive-through issues.

During Monday night's meeting, Councillor Ron Ellsworth took great pains to make clear that Tim Horton's is a "good corporate citizen."

Indeed they are, in that they pay taxes, employ local people and donate to charitable causes.

But they have their share of problems too. Their main lines of business are coffee which is an addictive substance and deep fried dough, which contributes to obesity. However, these products are perfectly legal and people buy them willingly.

The real problems are the drive through lanes, and the serious environmental impact that Tim's has on the community.

First, the environment. Every day, Tim Horton's unleashes millions of paper cups into the environment, right across the country. Is there a single bigger source of consumer detritus in the country? The cups are recyclable in some areas, yes, but how much ends up in a landfill and on our streets? This fact alone puts the onus on Tim's to find a solution to this problem.

And I'm talking about a real solution. Not the bland reassurances we see at their web site, such as this:

"Tim Hortons is committed to building and maintaining a framework that supports an environmental leadership position. We work with stakeholders including customers, stores operators, suppliers and governments, to drive toward environmental leadership best practices." (I've put the weasel words, the linguistic loopholes, in bold face.)

The drive-through issue, which I have written about previously, is both an environmental and safety concern. All those idling engines are having a significant impact on global warming.

I recall a media interview in 2007, in which a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officer was asked, by On the Go host Ted Blades, why the force doesn't ticket cars that spill out of drive-through lanes onto the street.

His response? These cars are considered "part of the normal flow of traffic."

This, I would suggest, is nonsense. If the cars are not moving, they are not flowing' and are thus obstructing traffic and creating a hazard. What is needed is a policy change at the highest levels within the RNC, to start enforcing a law against obstructing traffic.' If memory serves, this law has been on the books for many years. It's a simple matter of enforcement.

But the real solution, as I've said before, is to ban drive-through lanes at all restaurants and coffee shops, right across the country. I am reasonably sure that St. John's has the authority to institute such a ban unilaterally.

The real question is, does it have the guts to do so?

Because, as this national CBC story reveals, there is a lot at stake for the food services industry. Perhaps more than they'd like you to know.

Thousands of people use the drive-through lanes every day. What's your view on this? If drive-throughs were banned, would Tim Horton's lose your business? Or would you get off your lazy arse and walk into the store?

Your comments are welcome.

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Recent comments

  • Dennis
    July 27, 2010 - 14:53

    Same thing at Cromer Avenue in GF-W, where traffic in one lane grinds to a halt because of drivers waiting to get a double-double. I've ceased being amazed at the drivers' lack of consideration of those around them, but I don't get why there isn't a police officer handing tickets to them as they wait.

    That said, I had been benefiting from others' laziness, as I would bypass the line, and pop in and out in seconds. However, those who venture inside nowadays are usually met by one trainee and a slow-moving line, while they jealously watch the crowd of employees tending to the drive thru.

    I say make the drive thru coffee-only (within certain peak hours) and make the company set (and patrol) a maximum length for the line, ending well onto the property. I.e., if there are already X cars ahead of you, then get off your bum and walk in.