On a trip down to Bellis Fair a few years ago, Tanya and I stopped by a drive-thru coffee shop to order some caffeine for the ride home. We drove around to the far end of a gas station parking lot where it was located and pulled up to the window to order. The barista asked if we wanted to win a prize and handed us a cup with several slivers of paper inside. Both Tanya and I chose our ticket and unfolded it to reveal what we had won: “full price coffee“.
You can pretty much use a drive-thru window to purchase anything nowadays. From burgers and coffee to movies and a marriage – in some parts of the continent. Drive-thru Starbucks are pretty big for commuters in these parts, and rumour has it that Wendy’s is usually quicker than McDonald’s with their orders. But the issue that’s been raised across Canada is, what about the pollution from all those cars in the queues?
At some popular fast-food restaurants across the country, lineups are so long they stretch out of parking lots and spill onto public streets, and politicians are eyeing the emissions spewed by all the idling cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles.
Students at the University of Alberta monitored a popular Tim Hortons outlet in Edmonton last year for 54 hours and counted 3,756 vehicles idling for an average of more than five minutes each. The longest idle was more than 12 minutes. [CBC]
There are several reasons why I only visit a drive-thru maybe once every six months, the main being that I don’t own a car. However, I know some people actually rely on this method. It’s mentioned in the CBC article that drive-thrus are almost becoming an essential service to the elderly and people with small children.
I know my sister, with three younguns, has a heck of a time getting them rallied to head into the restaurant in a timely manner especially if they’re just picking up the food to take home. Having to unbuckle and carry the smallest, while keeping an eye on the other two means it’s taking her a long time to get the kids inside safely, meanwhile wrecking her bad back in the process.
I’m not sure eliminating drive-thrus would be a solution, however I am all for fewer cars and emissions. I like the convenience and the option to get things “on the go”, so how could we improve conditions? For starters, Tim Hortons says they’re going to have separate coffee stations at drive-thru windows, and are offering more ‘quick pay’ options. But what happens if drive-thrus start to disappear, would you really miss them?
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