Words: Uma Kleppinger
Photo: Adam Newman
Originally published in Issue #41
Ever try to ride your bike through a drive-up customer service window? If you have, odds are you’ve probably been denied service.
We contacted several banks, drugstores and fast-food restaurants to find out what their stance is on serving cyclists. Most cited a corporate policy that didn’t permit it for liability reasons. Some admitted motorists were often speeding around blind corners and they were concerned about cyclists’ visibility and safety. Others refused service fearing cyclists were more likely to try to rob the staff at the window, particularly where cycling is considered synonymous with poverty. In areas where bike commuting isn’t a way of life, our inquiries were met with incredulity.
But not all drive-ups are anti-bike. Businesses in Washington and Oregon were most receptive to serving urban cyclists, suggesting the no-bikes stance is dependent on the visibility and acceptance of bike commuting as a way of life. Bottom line? You won’t know until you try.
One notable exception to the rule is the Pacific Northwest restaurant chain Burgerville, renowned for sourcing its food from local and sustainable farmers. After being denied service at a drive-through a few years ago, one cyclist took to social media to share her experience and the restaurant paid attention. It quickly changed its corporate policy to officially welcome bikes at all its drive-up windows, further demonstrating its commitment to sustainability.
As far as we know, Burgerville has never been robbed by a masked biker, nor has a cyclist been plowed over by road raging hypoglycemic motorists, but it’s pretty safe to say many customers have enjoyed a guilt-free milkshake and sweet potato fries as they pedaled on down the road.