Charity Millar promised her children a Tim Hortons donut in order to help them through the flu vaccine experience.
Once they’d finished up at the West Shore Health Unit, Millar steered her family over to the Wale Road Tim Hortons’ drive-thru. Upon attempting to order their doughnuts, they were turned away.
It was because they were on a bike.
Millar’s family of five has been car-free for several years. She opted for the drive-thru after the flu shots because the bike lock-up at the mall isn’t good a option – the bikes block the sidewalk.
She “felt gross” upon being denied service at Tim Hortons and her three-year-old was upset about not getting a doughnut. They ended up going through the Save-On-Foods drive-thru for a treat on the way home as bike traffic is permitted.
@TimHortons your Wale Rd location in #yyj just refused a woman on an e-bike service at the drive thru. We're in a #ClimateCrisis & this woman is car-free with three kids–how can you refuse her service like this? Her kids had just been vaccinated and she had promised them a donut
— Elise Velaz (@EliseVelaz9) November 18, 2019
Millar doesn’t understand why cyclists wouldn’t be allowed through the drive-thru because they ride with cars on the road all the time. She also emphasized that it’s tough for parents who cycle to disembark and take their children and bags inside as they can’t simply lock a door to protect their items.
Millar noted that the issue isn’t with Tim Hortons but rather “a systemic problem” as others in her circle have run into the same issue.
Millar doesn’t use social media, so her friend and fellow cycling parent Elise Cote took to Twitter on her behalf and asked Tim Hortons to explain.
A spokesperson for Tim Hortons told the Saanich News that the company’s drive-thru policy states that “only vehicles licensed under the relevant motor vehicle legislation can be served at the drive-thru windows.”
The spokesperson explained that cars, trucks, vans and motorcycles can go through, but that for safety reasons, bikes are not permitted. McDonald’s Canada has the same policy on bikes.
Cote feels that ‘safety issue’ is code for insurance concerns because unlike drivers, most cyclists aren’t insured. However, she pointed out that someone could get injured in the parking lot or while locking up their bike too.
Little inconveniences pile up and stop people from choosing alternate modes of transportation, Millar said. The act of biking isn’t the drawback for most people, it’s the lack of infrastructure and the safety concerns.
She hopes that Saanich will encourage new businesses to consider cyclists – especially when it comes to drive-thrus as idling cars create a lot of emissions.
Cycling isn’t just for recreation, some families are replacing their minivans, Cote said. She hopes to bring the issue to council have have new businesses accommodate cyclists.
Giving people options that make them feel catered to and safe – like the Dobosala Cantina & Ride Thru on Pandora Street – will “make good decisions easier,” Millar said. “If you build it, they will come.”
Coun. Zac de Vries is a cyclist and has never owned a car. He referred to banning bikes from drive-thrus as “unfair ” and “a lost opportunity.”
“We’re going through a transportation renaissance and our urban form and services should reflect that.”
Coun. Ned Taylor, a fellow cyclist, agreed and emphasized that he sees no problem with bike drive-thrus.
“I consider riding down Shelbourne Street [on a bike] to be a bigger risk than riding through a drive-thru,” said Taylor, pointing out that speeds are quite low in drive-thrus.
Taylor encourages residents to speak with businesses and council about the issue.