Drive-Throughs Pollute and Don't Even Save Time


Michael Stuparyk, the Star

Last summer there was a spate of articles about municipalities from Washington DC to California considering the banning of new drive-through restaurants. Some because they are ugly- "One of the things we always hear from residents is that they want a more walkable downtown" says one politician, but mainly because of pollution and greenhouse gases.

Others protest, saying they like the convenience and speed. But is it faster? Two Toronto Star journalists tried it out. The reporter walking into the restaurant began her stopwatch when upon opening the door of the restaurant while the reporter driving begain timing when she got in line behind the other cars. (to be completely fair, both reporters should have started their watches when they entered the property and included the time required to park the car and walk to the restaurant, but then they would have needed two cars). The walker stopped the watch when she left the restaurant; the driver when she left the window.

They calculated the carbon emissions using a footprint calculator based on the time of idling.


(sorry about the small size, you can link to the original pdf here)

Results: a split on time, a McDonalds and a Timmys were faster on foot; while a Starbucks and a different Timmys were faster in the drivethrough. However the differences were slight and the carbon saved by walking in and not idling was considerable.

So we agree with Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion: Drivethroughs are a pollution problem, and urban design problem, and often a traffic nightmare. ::The Star