Green City

Humanizing Drive-Thrus

By Jason Leach
Published May 26, 2005

A recent article in the Toronto Star discusses ways of incorporating drive-thru restaurants into busy downtown Toronto neighbourhoods.

Apparently, they are working on plans to "humanize" drive-thrus to make them more pedestrian friendly. As nice as that sounds, basically what they propose is that drive-thrus be set in the rear of a property with the restaurant facing the street with large windows and sidewalk entrances.

Wow. Really groundbreaking stuff. This from a city struggling to cope with an overburdened transit system and downtown streets that are perpetually clogged with single-occupcancy vehicles.

News flash: rows of idling cars hidden out of view behind a restaurant release the same amount of pollutants as if they were in front of the building for all to see.

Toronto used to be somewhat of a progressive, maybe even world-class city. Those days are long gone and this is just one more piece of evidence to throw on huge pile that has grow in recent decades.

Recently, Trevor Shaw of Raise the Hammer wrote a wonderful challenge to Hamilton City Council to be the first city in Canada to ban new drive-thrus and turn existing drive-thrus into "walk-thrus" or "bike-thrus" on bad air days. [Now that would be "humanizing" drive-thrus - Ed.]

Hamilton is showing some good signs of turning the corner and becoming a more sustainable, green city. I'm not one for comparing us to Toronto, but if Hamilton has the courage and foresight to ban drive-thrus while our monster neighbour to the east tries to cram them into their downtown core, we will become the talk of the Toronto media. T.O.'s own community groups would surely use Hamilton as an example for their own city to follow.

It may not seem like a huge idea, but this is how cities change their image. One good decision at a time. This is a simple one staring Hamilton right in the face. Will we lead or will we lag?

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

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