Fast food chains like McDonald’s and Tim Hortons don’t allow bikes through drive-thru, but cyclists like Saanich Coun. Zac de Vries don’t see why they shouldn’t be allowed.
On Monday, Saanich resident Charity Millar attempted to go through a Tim Hortons drive-thru on her e-bike to get her children a treat after getting their flu shots. She was turned away and restaurant staff explained that it’s the company’s policy to not allow bikes to ride through the drive-thru for safety reasons.
This sparked a conversation about why bikes can ride on the road with vehicles but are not allowed in drive-thrus. Saanich doesn’t have any bike-friendly ride-thrus.
Collisions happen on the road, said de Vries, so he feels it’s odd that there’s an emphasis on having not having bikes in drive-thrus – where cars are driving slowly.
He’s been turned away from several drive-thrus in the District for trying to ride his bike through which he said is disappointing because restaurants often close their seating areas and only operate the drive-thru at night.
There are a few ride-thru restaurants in Greater Victoria, de Vries noted, but none are in Saanich. He sees this as a lost opportunity and would like to see existing companies review their policies and new businesses consider catering to cyclists.
“Cyclists run on calories,” de Vries said, noting that pit stops for food are common and asking cyclists to carry security apparatus just to grab a coffee or a snack doesn’t make sense.
He also emphasized that while the Official Community Plan discourages new drive-thrus due to emissions caused by idling cars, there are no Saanich bylaws prohibiting bike ride-thrus. This means that barring other issues, council would likely approve a restaurant’s request for a bike-thru, de Vries said.
The councillor noted that bike-thrus would take up less space than traditional drive-thrus, wouldn’t involve idling or traffic pattern changes and wouldn’t create risks for pedestrians crossing through.
While he doesn’t see bike-thrus becoming required for new businesses, de Vries feels businesses looking to set up shop in Saanich should consider “grab and go” drive-thrus for cyclists and pedestrians.
Saanich’s Active Transportation Plan (ATP) emphasizes improving road safety for folks who choose alternate modes of transportation. While many residents already choose to walk, bus or cycle, the plan is to make the road safer, said de Vries, which will in turn encourage more people to try cycling, busing or walking.
“We need to build bridges even though some of us are comfortable on a tight rope.”
He’d like to see the ATP steps be accelerated to meet the needs of the growing group of people who choose “more efficient ways to get around.”