Minneapolis bans drive-thrus to help meet emissions goals

Existing drive-thru establishments are grandfathered in under the new regulations.

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Minneapolis, Minnesota, will not be home to any new drive-thru windows in the future. Following a city council vote, members have voted to update zoning laws that will ban construction of any new drive-thru windows. Businesses with existing drive-thru operations needn’t worry, however, as they’ve been grandfathered in.

The whole premise behind the change is to reduce vehicle emissions, Streetsblog reported Friday. A secondary component of the ban is to ensure pedestrians remain safe on walkways.

The Minneapolis City Council declared the zoning change will help achieve the city’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% come 2050. In an overarching plan dubbed Minneapolis 2040, the city also plans to phase out gas stations and mandatory parking regulations. The latter has apparently encouraged car ownership in the metropolitan area. Effectively, this plan looks to curb that trend.

Sorry, drive-thru fans.

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While the ban has good intentions, it’s easy to wonder if it’s perhaps somewhat short-sighted. As more electrified vehicles hit the roads in the years to come, emissions and idling won’t be nearly as much of a problem. But that’s where the council’s second point comes into play; not only does the city want to create cleaner air, it wants to keep pedestrians safer, as well. A Florida study (pdf) showed there’s a pretty decent link between crashes and drive-thrus.

According to the data, every fast-food restaurant with a drive-thru in a low-income neighborhood increased the average number of pedestrian crashes every four years by 0.69. Some of the largest chains were all home to an increased risk of pedestrian crashes and injuries including McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Wendy’s.

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