On Being Refused Service

Takeout windowFor lunch today I stopped at the local “Scottish Cuisine” fast food restaurant for a sandwich to take home. I wheeled my touring bike up to the order station, wondering whether the vehicle detector would pick up my wheels. It did.

As soon as I stopped over the loop wire, I heard a distorted announcement about the specials. Then a young lady asked for my order.

When I turned the corner of the building and rolled up to the payment window, she did a double take on seeing my bicycle and went back to ask others whether I was allowed at the drive-up window. She came back to announce “We’ll serve you today but don’t do it again”.

I told her that my bike is a legal vehicle and mumbled something about prejudiced based on ignorance as I paid for the sandwich.

When I went to the pick-up window, I saw a fellow who looked and acted like a manager. I mentioned the trouble at the payment window. He said “no problem” and that bicycles, motorcycles, cars, etc. could all use the drive thru.

So far this is turning out better than the last time I went to a drive-thru. Several years ago, I was denied service at a Wendy’s in Cleveland. When I protested, I was warned they would call police. I’ve not been to a Wendy’s since.

I plan to follow up with MacDonald’s to see whether the corporation is concerned about turning away customers. Stay tuned

— Fred

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9 Responses to On Being Refused Service

  1. yosh says:

    Personally, I’d rather park my bicycle and go inside than sit in a line sucking exhaust.

    And the motor vehicle code (in my state at least) states that bicycles have the same rights and duties as a motor vehicle while on the roadway, with certain exceptions. Note: this isn’t the same thing as saying that a bicycle is a motor vehicle. And I wouldn’t give up those exceptions for the world.

  2. Fred says:

    Regarding parking and going inside — that is less convenient (i.e. taking the time to lock up the bike or take the risk of having it walk away). Also, few places have secure bike racks although sometimes there is a suitable railing.

    Since traffic was light at the time, there was little exhaust to suck up.

    I do not pretend that a bicycle is a motor vehicle. But it is a vehicle, both in fact and in (Ohio) law.

  3. MikeOnBike says:

    Some places keep the drive up window open after the lobby is closed, effectively refusing service to customers without motor vehicles.

    I’ve successfully picked up prescriptions from a pharmacy drive up window. I don’t recall the exhaust being noticeable.

    By the way, which exceptions wouldn’t you give up? The far-to-the-right rule? The mandatory bike lane rule?

  4. Khal Spencer says:

    I’d be curious as to why the young lady would warn you against using the drive-up. We are such a litigious society that perhaps rather than an anti-cycling attitude, its a case of being worried that anyone in the drive-up who isn’t in a car could get hurt (don’t ask me how) and sue.

    Wonder if they give grief to motorcyclists. Or, watched too many Arte Johnson skits.

  5. Fred says:

    Khal asked:
    “I’d be curious as to why the young lady would warn you against using the drive-up. ”

    I’ll guess it was a combination of two of the Three Great Lies about bicycle operation, Bicycling Fallacies of the “Car Culture”. These are (1) “The Fear From the Rear” and (2) The belief that bicycle do not belong on the road (or in this case, the drive-up window).

    Insurance company executives tend to believe the fallacies. Thus they might, out of their ignorance, frown on bicycles at drive up windows.

    As for motorcyclists facing this problem, likely not. ‘Tho the hazards are greater (because motorcycles can go much faster) the perception of danger is less and because of the motor and that speed, motorcycles are accepted on the road.

    — Fred

  6. Tim says:

    I was also refused service at the drive through of the Sherman, Texas Panera bread yesterday morning. After them taking my order and giving me the total. Once they saw I was on a bicycle I was told they, “Do not service bicycles through the drive through.” I went inside placed my order and planned on confronting the manager but decided it would be a waste of time, and just create a issue with other customers. Cyclists are already maligned enough, treated as a interruption and hinderence to motorized drivers. I decided to truly effect Panera bread in the best way I can as a consumer, refuse to any longer consume their product and then tell 200 of my friends, hopefully they will tell 200 of their fiends so on and so on. If Panera is so financially sound in this failing economy, that they can refuse customers I am happy for them. I wonder if they and others will continue their policy’s as gas cost climb more and more and people see bicycles as the smart choice to commute? By the way, right behind me were two motorcycles, they got served. Thanks for the vent.

  7. Fred says:

    Hi Tim,

    There is a good chance you encountered a rouge manager, or maybe just an employee. I hope you will follow-up with the company, including telling them the location, date and time plus a description of the employee.

    I checked their web site and found a “contact us” link.
    http://www.panerabread.com/about/contact/index2.php. On a quick look, I did not see a category involving rudeness at a local restaurant.

    And by the way, I’ve given a bicycle driving program for a local cycling club at a Panera. This was in the Cleveland, OH area.


  8. I came into a fast-food place with my bike on top of my car. I saw a low overhang, actually the “warning bar” set too low so as to alert motorists that there was a real, much higher overhang coming up. I parked the car and walked to the “drive-up” window. (I think I was dressed for cold weather and did not want to go inside.) I was told that they did not serve pedestrians in the drive-through lane. The point was to prevent someone walking in a region designated for cars to avoid a car rear-ending a ped. I pointed out that they had artificially created the hazard with the bar. Anyway, that’s how the human mind works. (Or, as Ratzo so famously said, “Hey, I’m walkin’ here.”)

  9. Oswaldo Dietzel says:

    I noted with interest while visiting Tucson, Ariz., this summer that in their public transportation system, each bus has a front-loading bicycle rack to accommodate the two-wheeling segment of the population. A bike-friendly city such as Fort Lauderdale would be well served by equipping Broward County Transit buses with bike racks.*

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