The Minneapolis City Council has signed a bill into law that will make the city the largest in the United States to ban the construction of new drive-thru windows.
The measure, which was passed unanimously by the Zoning and Planning Committee last Friday, bans any new drive-thru businesses from setting up shop within the city’s borders. The city-wide ordinance applies not only to fast food restaurants, but also to business like banks and pharmacies.
City council members say the legislation will improve air quality by reducing the number of vehicles sitting with their engines running. The measure is viewed as one step in the city’s goal of reducing greenhouse emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
The council also cited pedestrian safety as a reason for the ban. A recent study found that drive-thru businesses, which almost universally require a driveway that crosses a sidewalk, increase the frequency of traffic accidents involving pedestrians by 0.69 crashes every four years.
Although now illegal, the city won’t tear down any existing drive-thrus. The legislation grandfathers in existing establishments with drive-thrus, along with businesses that have applied for permits to build new drive-thrus, according to Streets Blog.
The new law doesn’t come without controversy. The Minneapolis Advisory Committee on People with Disabilities says the drive-thru ban could lead to “the decrease of access to goods and services” for people with disabilities.
“Drive-thrus are very important for many people with mobility issues and seniors,” Margot Imdieke Cross, a member of the advisory committee, told the Star Tribune. “The city of Minneapolis has to recognize that there are different groups in this community. We have different concerns and we all need to be represented.”
Before the city-wide ban was approved last week, drive-thrus were already banned in 17 of the city’s 23 zoning districts. In addition to doing away with drive-thrus, the city is also planning to phase out gas stations, though that will require the widespread adoption of the electric car.