It Is Now a Violation of Portland City Code For Drive-Thru Windows to Refuse to Serve People Who Pedal or Walk to the Window

Now you just have to figure out how to eat a burger and drink a milkshake while pedaling.

(Henry Cromett)

As of last week, it is a violation of city code for drive-thru windows to deny service to bikers and people on foot. That's thanks to updated zoning codes in Portland's 2035 Comprehensive Plan that just went into effect.

The BikePortland website first reported on the new code, which states that, "When a drive-through facility is open and other pedestrian-oriented customer entrances to the business are unavailable or locked, the drive-through facility must serve customers using modes other than a vehicle such as pedestrians and bicyclists."

The new policy outlines that if the lobby or indoor service of the establishment is open, stores are not required to serve people on bikes and on foot via a drive-thru window.

But if the service window is the only thing available, people using all forms of transportation—including their sneakers—must be served.

The updated code applies to any businesses with a drive-thru window, including restaurants, banks, gas stations and pharmacies. It was added to the city plan in 2016 by Planning and Sustainability Commissioner Chris Smith, who told BikePortland at the time that it was unfair for drive thru services to only cater to cars.

"Ideally you can't refuse service based on mode," Smith told BikePortland. "In a city that aims to be less than 30 percent single-occupancy vehicle mode share, that's just not cool."

Related: Former Mayor Charlie Hales had the big idea of removing drive-thrus from Portland's low-car future.

Smith penned the update to the 2035 plan seven years after local writer and "family biking evangelist" Sarah Gilbert was refused service at the Southeast Portland Burgerville drive-thru while on bike. Gilbert expressed her outrage in a blog post that went viral and got the chain to change its policy.

"Rejection can sink the most confident of us into slow moments of self-doubt," Gilbert wrote about being denied cheeseburgers at the window, "and here I was: already kicking myself for spending most of my cash on fast food, only to be told I wasn't fit for the drive thru."

Non-automobile commuters—bikers, walkers, scooter-ers, roller bladers, hover boarders—are now advised by Smith to file a zoning code complaint if they are denied service at a drive-thru window while the store is otherwise closed.

The upshot? Prepare any day now for Portland drive-thrus to be filled with rental scooters.

Related: Portland made driving miserable. All you can do now is bike.

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