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Old 09-05-07, 07:04 PM   #1
EnigManiac
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The whole drive-thru debate again

I know many here were ambivalent toward the issue of cyclists being denied the same convenience as motorists and I thought if I gave it some time I might too see it as a non-issue. After five months, however, I find I am still bothered that cyclists are deprived of the privelege without valid or justifiable reason. Perhaps because I went to my local McDonald's---one of five urban locations here in Toronto that has a drive-thru---for the first time in five months yesterday (I only go maybe three times a year), my indignation was raised again.

This is a copy of the letter I have submitted to various news outlets as an op-ed piece and forwarded to McDonald's Canada as well.

An Open Letter To McDonald’s

Cyclists Unwelcome At McDonald’s?

Good afternoon,

I contacted your office in writing in mid-April, five months ago, regarding the apparent discriminatory policy of not permitting cyclists or pedestrians to use the convenient drive-thru services for take-out you currently offer only to a select group of customers; motorists, but have not yet received a reply, leaving me with the distinct impression that McDonald’s has been contacted so often regarding this issue, they are fed up with explaining their irrational policy or McDonald’s simply does not value the concerns and issues of its’ customers.

After having decided to go to the media, I decided it would only be fair and equitable to allow you a second opportunity to address the issue.

I spoke with a condescending and rude Assistant Team Leader at your Dufferin & Dupont location as well as Pilar, a Customer Relations representative and was advised that the policy is in effect ‘for safety reasons.’ I asked each to elaborate on what the danger is that would deny as many as 900,000 cyclists (NOW Magazine, 2005) from using the pick-up window at the five urban locations in Toronto, but neither could offer an explanation.

I asked if it was a fear that cyclists were putting motorists lives at risk, somehow running them over or causing property damage. No, that wasn’t it. I asked if it was a fear of a cyclist being struck by a motorist. Pilar assented that was, indeed, the fear. I then asked how that makes sense, how is it logical? She was silent. I asked how the danger is any different for a cyclist in a drive-thru lane than it is for a motorist, but she had no answer. A car can hit another car as easily as it can hit a cyclist, I offered. I asked if there was any research data or documentation that confirmed that a genuine threat exists to cyclists in drive-thru’s. No, unfortunately. I asked if McDonald’s had ever let cyclists use their pick-up window and due to experiencing a high number of collisions that followed, they had to deny cyclists the use of the convenience. No. Cyclists have never been allowed to use the service. So how does McDonald’s know cyclists are prone to being hit in drive-thru lanes? What proof is there that any accidents of such nature would occur at all?

I suggested that traffic speeds in drive thru’s are usually very low and low speeds reduce the opportunity for collision. Thousands and even millions of cyclists share the road every day with motorists who are traveling anywhere from 10-90 km/h with few mishaps, so it seemed implausible that collisions would occur when cars are moving at around 5 km/h in a much more controlled lane. I asked if collisions were such a threat in drive-thru lanes---and since cars strike other cars more often than any other object, vehicle or person (according to Transport Canada), presumably there have been car on car collisions in drive-thru lanes, wouldn’t it be more likely that two cars would collide in a drive-thru lane than a car and a bicycle? Bike-car collisions are one of the lowest types of collisions, according to the National Safety Board and Transport Canada, I reminded the representative, but she did not have an answer for that either. I asked if collisions were such a threat on their property, was McDonald’s considering banning cars from drive thru’s and parking lots altogether because of the danger they obviously posed, but she said no. I reminded the representative that the second most common accident type is cars hitting---and killing---pedestrians) and, therefore, greater threat existed to pedestrians on their property than to cyclists. Were they going to prohibit people from walking into their restaurants as a result?

I then asserted that it seemed cars were the real danger, not pedestrians or cyclists, but it is pedestrians and cyclists who are ‘punished’ rather than irresponsible or inattentive or distracted or reckless motorists. Neither representative had any comment.

I can cite verifiable facts. McDonald’s can’t. It seems McDonald’s policy has no valid justification and may very well be in violation of The Charter of Rights and Freedoms. No private policy that discriminates supersedes the Charter after all. But that is not for me to decide.

Other services such as banks and pharmacies offer drive-thru convenience, but do not ban cyclists and there have been no instances of rampant cyclist deaths as a result of motorists hitting them. So, it must be concluded that McDonald’s merely presumes this sort of situation will occur without any data to suggest it is fact. Either that or they simply do not want cyclists on visiting their restaurants.

The reasons this issue is compelling is not only because of the obvious discrimination, but how this policy flies in the face of common business practices, a society-wide awareness of and commitment to actively reducing pollution by riding bikes more often as a general means of commuting and their own statement on their website: ‘At McDonald's Canada, we are committed to doing what is right, to being a good neighbour and a valued partner in every community in which we live and work. At McDonald's, giving back to the community is more than simply a commitment -- it is the foundation upon which our company has been built.’

It is clear how the above statement contradicts McDonald’s anti-bike policy. Is depriving cyclists and pedestrians the use of a pick-up window ‘doing what is right?’ Or ‘being a good neighbour?’ I hardly think so. If the people that lived next door to me were idling their cars for hours every day or banning cyclists from their ‘private property,’ failing to afford the same rights granted to me by the federal government, they would be the most despised neighbours in the community, not valued members of the neighbourhood.

Promoting irresponsible car use and depriving environment-conscious cyclists and pedestrians use of your conveniences only further contributes to global warming. I have witnessed long lines of cars idling and spewing exhaust for several hours in many McDonald’s drive thru’s and aside from the obvious hazard of polluted air, the cars prevent those who are trying to make it inside your restaurants from getting in there safely. I suggest that McDonald’s either get rid of all urban drive-thru’s or allow everyone to use them when they want take-out.

Most corporations and businesses are seeing the wisdom and profit in catering to an ever-increasing ‘pro-green’ lifestyle. The city of Toronto even offers awards and other benefits to ‘environmentally-responsible’ and ‘bike-friendly’ businesses, many of which are thriving as a result. Federal, municipal and provincial governments all promote cycling and bike-commuting, going so far as to even offer incentives and privileges for those who make a conscious effort to reduce their environmental footprint. McDonald’s seems to be openly hostile to that concept. Doesn’t that seem odd for a company that has enjoyed such tremendous success that they would thumb their nose at the estimated 100,000 full-time, year-round cyclists in this city? Especially when that number is growing steadily. That’s a lot of business you’re possibly losing.

Perhaps it’s time for McDonald’s Canada to get with the program. I hope you’ll take this issue seriously, because it is a serious issue and one day in the not too distant future you’re going to wish you’d done the right thing and been a good neighbour.

Sincerely,

J.......
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Old 09-05-07, 07:53 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by EnigManiac View Post
I know many here were ambivalent toward the issue of cyclists being denied the same convenience as motorists and I thought if I gave it some time I might too see it as a non-issue. After five months, however, I find I am still bothered that cyclists are deprived of the privelege without valid or justifiable reason. Perhaps because I went to my local McDonald's---one of five urban locations here in Toronto that has a drive-thru---for the first time in five months yesterday (I only go maybe three times a year), my indignation was raised again.

This is a copy of the letter I have submitted to various news outlets as an op-ed piece and forwarded to McDonald's Canada as well.

An Open Letter To McDonald’s

Cyclists Unwelcome At McDonald’s?


Good afternoon,




Sincerely,

J.......



i hear you and feel your anger/frustration. issues like this happen here as well.

your letter needs to be stream-lined/focused.

attention span of owner/operators (managers) will need precise presentation.

good luck!

t
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Old 09-05-07, 08:08 PM   #3
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I completely agree with you about this, but one thing still bothers me... Where are you going to put your quarter pounder with cheese, and a coke, if you are riding a bike? I would like to go through on my bike, but unfortunately, i'd have to sit down anyway to eat it. I guess going through the drive-thru would be an option to me if the lines inside where too long. But, they aren't usually too bad around where I live.

I've had quite a few car accidents on my bike, and i don't see the drive through as a threat AT ALL!; however, i do see driving down the road, holding a burger & fries in one hand, and a drink in the other as a problem, or even just pulling out of the drive-thru, into the parking lot. 4 of my 10 accidents have happened in parking lots, and i have had both hands free at the times...

Yes, it is dangerous in a car to be driving while eating, but at least you don't use your feet to pile fries into your mouth, you still have complete control over stopping the car if you need to, a bike on the othe hand, you need at least one hand free, so you can use the brakes, and even then, one hand might just lock up your back tire, and not provide much stability, or control to you as the rider, also, it won't stop you very fast.

~Rushlink
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Old 09-05-07, 08:10 PM   #4
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Kudos!

AFAIK any new drive throughs are banned in TO (because of safety issues related to peds/cyclists/cars being hit by cars going through the drive through). Perhaps mickey D's should put up more walk-up windows like at the queen/spadina location.

Personally I would like for them to declare a moratorium on locations with parking and car access (like they already have in dozens of locations that seem sucessful), and get with the program.

Unfortunately, I feel pretty ill every time I eat there (the only menu items I truly enjoy are the egg McMuffin and the coffee - breakfast only for me, as McD's closes at 10:30 as far as I'm concerned).

Keep us posted as to what the grand poo-bah says
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Old 09-05-07, 08:39 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by tomg View Post
i hear you and feel your anger/frustration. issues like this happen here as well.

your letter needs to be stream-lined/focused.

attention span of owner/operators (managers) will need precise presentation.

good luck!

t
Bikepacker67's formula for dealing with consumer issues:

3 paragraphs.

1st = greeting and a brief synopsis of the bytch. (short and concise)
2nd = step by step overview of the specific incident
3rd = stroking and spanking (how much you appreciate the service/product they provide, but will look for alternatives if the issue isn't resolved)
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Old 09-05-07, 08:39 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by rushlink View Post
I completely agree with you about this, but one thing still bothers me... Where are you going to put your quarter pounder with cheese, and a coke, if you are riding a bike? I would like to go through on my bike, but unfortunately, i'd have to sit down anyway to eat it. I guess going through the drive-thru would be an option to me if the lines inside where too long. But, they aren't usually too bad around where I live.

I've had quite a few car accidents on my bike, and i don't see the drive through as a threat AT ALL!; however, i do see driving down the road, holding a burger & fries in one hand, and a drink in the other as a problem, or even just pulling out of the drive-thru, into the parking lot. 4 of my 10 accidents have happened in parking lots, and i have had both hands free at the times...

Yes, it is dangerous in a car to be driving while eating, but at least you don't use your feet to pile fries into your mouth, you still have complete control over stopping the car if you need to, a bike on the othe hand, you need at least one hand free, so you can use the brakes, and even then, one hand might just lock up your back tire, and not provide much stability, or control to you as the rider, also, it won't stop you very fast.

~Rushlink
I hate eating inside McDonald's or most other fast food joints and prefer to take my meal home. I use the saddle bag on my pannier. It holds the bag snug and since I generally get the carton of milk instead of a pop, I don't get any spillage. But on the occasions where I do get a pop, there's an outside pocket on my bag that holds the pop upright. I never eat while riding.
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Old 09-05-07, 09:32 PM   #7
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Is it really such a pain to lock up and go inside? Honestly, while I don't know if the local McDonald's would allow bikes in the drive through, I wouldn't go through on a bike regardless. I don't want to sit and breathe exhaust from some slow morons who all pay for their minute transactions with a credit card.

I'd rather just go in.
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Old 09-05-07, 10:31 PM   #8
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I'm not sure I remember any McDonalds around here having a place to lock up bicycles.
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Old 09-06-07, 01:08 AM   #9
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That's always bugged me too, but after some serious investigation I've learned that it's a safety issue, not discrimination.
There's no license plate on a bicycle, so if you pull through the drivethrough and hold the place up there's no way to identify you.

( yeah I saw him, it was a guy with sunglasses wearing a cycle helmet, gloves, sunglasses, a bright jacket with a colorfull logo on it, in black shorts riding on a bicycle....)

Ken.
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Old 09-06-07, 01:31 AM   #10
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Simple solution - stop eating at McDonalds... Kinda counteracts all that cycling, doesn't it? ;-)
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Old 09-06-07, 02:29 AM   #11
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Bring your bike inside, get on it... hold on to the counter, and order your food. It's kinda like a drive-thru, but you're inside.

Know what? Just get a salt lick. It's basically the same.
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Old 09-06-07, 03:31 AM   #12
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I haven't tried a McDonald's drive thru, but my local Burger King and Del Tacos haven't had a problem with me using their drive thrus. I'm usually buying it to take home, so I don't buy a drink. I use the Topeak trunk bag with fold out panniers. After I get my bag of food I'll ride to the end of the drive thru with the bag in one hand, park in a safe place, unfold one of the panniers, and place the bag inside for the ride home. I find the drive thru much more convenient than locking up and going inside. I usually don't carry a lock with me anyways since I can park inside at work, and anywhere I stop on the way I either go through the drive thru or bring my bike inside with me.
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Old 09-06-07, 04:01 AM   #13
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I used to drive through on a bike at the Oak Ridge, TN McDonalds all the time when I worked out there. Just grab the bag and go back to my office. No problem riding holding a bag. I don't have an easy way to test this now. Don't ride in cities. I suppose McDonald's outlets are free to make their own decisions on who to serve so long as some kind of non-discriminatory effect happens. Not serving all asians wouldn't go well, but not serving walk ups looks OK.
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Old 09-06-07, 06:41 AM   #14
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That's always bugged me too, but after some serious investigation I've learned that it's a safety issue, not discrimination.
There's no license plate on a bicycle, so if you pull through the drivethrough and hold the place up there's no way to identify you.

( yeah I saw him, it was a guy with sunglasses wearing a cycle helmet, gloves, sunglasses, a bright jacket with a colorfull logo on it, in black shorts riding on a bicycle....)

Ken.
So, it's simply best to label all cyclists as thieves? Even in the morning rush or Saturday afternoon? That is even lamer than the feear of accidents they told me they have. There are other ways of dealing with security issues that do not discriminate---even if fear of being robbed is the real reason, it remains an act of discrimination---there are security windows that close instantly, cameras. etc. And perhaps McDonald's and the rest should remember that most folks who rob a drive thru are driving stolen cars and often wearing masks, so the license plate reason is really moot. I've rarely heard of Joe-blow from around the corner using his own car to rob a place. Sheesh.
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Old 09-06-07, 06:49 AM   #15
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That's always bugged me too, but after some serious investigation I've learned that it's a safety issue, not discrimination.
There's no license plate on a bicycle, so if you pull through the drivethrough and hold the place up there's no way to identify you.

( yeah I saw him, it was a guy with sunglasses wearing a cycle helmet, gloves, sunglasses, a bright jacket with a colorfull logo on it, in black shorts riding on a bicycle....)

Ken.
Just checking, but....you are joking, right?
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Old 09-06-07, 06:53 AM   #16
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I still don't see the problem.
If a (non tax supported) company wants to deny bicycles from a certain are then they have every right to.
If the company actually wants your money then they will make accomodations.

My bank allows me to go to the drive thru, but if they chose not to it's not like I'd throw a girly fit and start composing letters to the paper about it. I'd just get off my bike and walk inside and take advantage of their free coffee instead.
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Old 09-06-07, 06:57 AM   #17
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In-n-out burger, at least here in Davis, has an actual physical human who stands outside and takes orders. One of my minor, short-term cycling goals is to trackstand while placing my order and not put my foot down until I need to pay and put the burgers in my messenger bag.
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Old 09-06-07, 07:00 AM   #18
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1. I don't go to McDonalds.
2. If I did I'd take my bike inside, and nobody who tell me not to do so.
3. You can't take your car inside McDonalds
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Old 09-06-07, 07:11 AM   #19
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Move to Maine! LD1808 recently passed and takes effect this month. There is a provision for a liability waiver to businesses, so they aren't legally exposed for bicyclists using drive-thrus. Of course it doesn't mean that they have to allow bicyclists in drive-thrus. But it's a start.

Think of it in these terms: some businesses extend their hours drive-thru only. Great for cagers, but is that fair for a bicyclist?
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Old 09-06-07, 07:35 AM   #20
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I spoke with a condescending and rude Assistant Team Leader at your Dufferin & Dupont location as well as Pilar, a Customer Relations representative and was advised that the policy is in effect ‘for safety reasons.’ I asked each to elaborate on what the danger is that would deny as many as 900,000 cyclists (NOW Magazine, 2005) from using the pick-up window at the five urban locations in Toronto, but neither could offer an explanation.

I asked if it was a fear that cyclists were putting motorists lives at risk, somehow running them over or causing property damage. No, that wasn’t it. I asked if it was a fear of a cyclist being struck by a motorist. Pilar assented that was, indeed, the fear. I then asked how that makes sense, how is it logical? She was silent. I asked how the danger is any different for a cyclist in a drive-thru lane than it is for a motorist, but she had no answer. A car can hit another car as easily as it can hit a cyclist, I offered. I asked if there was any research data or documentation that confirmed that a genuine threat exists to cyclists in drive-thru’s. No, unfortunately. I asked if McDonald’s had ever let cyclists use their pick-up window and due to experiencing a high number of collisions that followed, they had to deny cyclists the use of the convenience. No. Cyclists have never been allowed to use the service. So how does McDonald’s know cyclists are prone to being hit in drive-thru lanes? What proof is there that any accidents of such nature would occur at all?
So who was the person being rude here?
You want to know what I see in this conversation post? I see a cyclist with self-righteous attitude berating a minimum wage worker just to inflate the ego of the cyclist, or to possible make the lower wage worker(s) feel belittled due to their lack of knowledge concerning things that don't mean a steaming pile of horse **** to them. It's not their place to know what is going on in the minds of the higher ups. It is not their concern to know the reasoning behind what the corporation "elders" have deided what is best for their company. Remember, it is their company and not yours. You come off as being the bully here, asking questions that you knew damned well that they did not have the answer to. Just like the rest of the internet bullies you see here in A&S, just because they have a better (albeit useless) understanding of the language and argumentative skills required to be such a bully.

I hope the letter gets printed in your local media. I know I'm not the only one who will see the "true" meaning behind your verbal attack on the McDonalds workers.
Then how much good will come of this?
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Old 09-06-07, 09:07 AM   #21
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In-n-out burger, at least here in Davis, has an actual physical human who stands outside and takes orders. One of my minor, short-term cycling goals is to trackstand while placing my order and not put my foot down until I need to pay and put the burgers in my messenger bag.
If he had In-n-out burger available, he wouldn't be going to McDonalds anyway.
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Old 09-06-07, 09:20 AM   #22
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I completely agree with you about this, but one thing still bothers me... Where are you going to put your quarter pounder with cheese, and a coke, if you are riding a bike? I would like to go through on my bike, but unfortunately, i'd have to sit down anyway to eat it. I guess going through the drive-thru would be an option to me if the lines inside where too long. But, they aren't usually too bad around where I live.

I've had quite a few car accidents on my bike, and i don't see the drive through as a threat AT ALL!; however, i do see driving down the road, holding a burger & fries in one hand, and a drink in the other as a problem, or even just pulling out of the drive-thru, into the parking lot. 4 of my 10 accidents have happened in parking lots, and i have had both hands free at the times...

Yes, it is dangerous in a car to be driving while eating, but at least you don't use your feet to pile fries into your mouth, you still have complete control over stopping the car if you need to, a bike on the othe hand, you need at least one hand free, so you can use the brakes, and even then, one hand might just lock up your back tire, and not provide much stability, or control to you as the rider, also, it won't stop you very fast.

~Rushlink
You got some but not all. A reasonable expectation is if someone purchaces at the drive through window they will drive away with the purchace. Fine in a car, on a bike unless there is a rack of some kind all the problems you mentioned occur, even if the burger is not being consumed.

It is a reasonable expectation. The next step is also a reasonable expectation, accidents will happen. Guess what this makes it a situation where McDondalds can be sued and lose. It is even worse in the one situation where one would most want to use the driveup window, "after hours" when to inside is closed. This is done in part because of crime concerns. Again the establishment could be sued and lose.
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Old 09-06-07, 09:45 AM   #23
jamesdenver
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I completely agree with you about this, but one thing still bothers me... Where are you going to put your quarter pounder with cheese, and a coke, if you are riding a bike?
Rack trunk and bottle cage? I agree with your other point, if I stop for a burger I'll take a break and eat it while it's fresh.

The only thing I find more disgusting than McDonald's food is smelling 20-40 minute old McDonald's food. (Usually on an airplane when someone plops down and eats their limp fries before takeoff)
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Old 09-06-07, 09:55 AM   #24
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There's no license plate on a bicycle, so if you pull through the drivethrough and hold the place up there's no way to identify you.
You do realize that all winter around here, at least a quarter of all plates are pretty much unreadable due to road salt residue? Just saying.

The rest of the year I also see a lot more cars with no plates than cyclists on my route, but that's just my route perhaps.
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Old 09-06-07, 09:57 AM   #25
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I ride through my bank drive-thru on the bicycle and motorcycle just fine. I've never tried fast-food on the bicycle, but have been to taco bell on the moto. I work nights, it happens sometimes.

I basically have a 300 lb. dirt bike and it has trouble setting off the drive-thru sensors, let alone lights. At taco bell I have to roll back and forth over the pad and hope it trips it. It's late night, but usually traffic behind me. One time it signaled me but wasn't staying on to let me speak so the person said to pull up to the window.

That's cool about the place having someone out there. But how are the rest of you indicating your presence at the menu board?
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