Life in the drive-thru lane

While consumers might “always have time” for their favourite beverage, it seems some drive-thru coffee shops may be a victim of their own success.

The other day, the CBC reported that the city of St. John’s is concerned with the chronic traffic problems as a result of drive-thru coffee shops. So the city put a moratorium on drive-thru applications amid concerns that long lineups are posing persistent traffic and safety hazards. Even without a personal visit, one can be assured those concerns are more than valid.

It is an issue common throughout Canada and Wellington County is no exception. Just visit any drive-thru coffee shop from Aberfoyle to Mount Forest and the situations, while not identical, are variations on the same theme. At the same time, it would be unwise to put the blame entirely on coffee-shops or chains. It is a combination of location and convenience versus planning and patience. Any business, if given a choice, will naturally locate in areas of prime visibility and, in most instances, that ends up being at the intersection of well-travelled roads or highways. And, as a result, any increased traffic will cause concerns and frustrations to both customers and those just passing by.

Convenience and patience seem to be at odds when it comes to drive-thrus. The same people who at home don’t mind that it takes time to brew coffee and to serve it to family and friends seem miffed when the staff at these shops do not have an order ready in 10 seconds or less. That frustration is sometimes exhibited in how they drive thereafter, leading to more traffic woes.

Strange though it might seem, perhaps new planning rules are needed for drive-thru shops, such as a single entrance and exits   and not the dual purpose lanes that now exist in many locations. Providing proper parking lanes for transport trucks in rural areas would be a bonus as well.

The idea of banning parking does not seem to be working, so having a place to have them park properly clears space for normal traffic.

The simple fact is these drive-thru coffee shops fill a need, and they’re bound to stay.

Putting a moratorium on them won’t solve the issue, but finding ways to help traffic flow better might make everyone’s morning a bit brighter.