Minneapolis Puts Brakes on New Drive-Thrus

City Council votes to prohibit construction of new drive-thrus across numerous markets.
August 12, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS—Minnesota’s biggest city is the latest and largest American city to ban new fast-food restaurants, drugstores and banks from opening drive-thru windows. The city already limits drive-thrus to specific areas and bans them from pedestrian-friendly districts, but the new measure takes it a step further in an effort to take cars off the road and improve climate conditions.

The New Food Economy reports that some local retailers and advocates for people with disabilities have objected to the ordinance on the grounds of convenience and accessibility. But proponents say that existing facilities will be unaffected, and the new rule will help reduce emissions from idling cars, eliminate drive-thru traffic to improve street safety and enhance pedestrian safety.

The move is in the wake of changes to Minneapolis 2040, a general environmental plan, that include walking and biking amendments, as well as driving infrastructure changes. Other focuses include drive-thrus and new gas stations.

The New Food Economy says that Falcon Heights, a suburb close to Minneapolis, imposed a moratorium in 2006, before eventually allowing drive-thrus only at banks. San Luis Obispo, California, first prohibited them in 1982 to reduce litter and air pollution, and many Canadian cities beginning with Toronto in 2002 also limit drive-thrus.

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