UNCOMMON SENSE: Walkable communities don’t need drive-thrus
A proposed drive-thru at Tsawwassen Springs is making waves in the community, with one Delta councillor even voting against the idea before it was put to a public hearing.
Much like the hot button topics of religion and politics, drive-thrus evoke a gamut of reactions.
Some see it as a necessary convenience for the disabled, elderly, and those laden with a minivan full of screaming kids.
Others see it as an archaic throwback to a time when the first thought was only to convenience, and not to air quality, the environment, and healthy living.
The drive-thru is a symbol of our automobile-centric history and culture and it caters to the sort of communities built around automobiles.
Like the montage opening to the ‘60s television show The Jetsons, the drive-thru is based on the expectation that anything can be accomplished from the comfort of our vehicle, whether it be dropping the kids off at school or the wife at the mall.
In that sense, drive-thrus are a throwback to a time when gasoline was a cheap afterthought, and getting your license and first car was a rite of passage for adolescents.
But today city dwellers can go their entire lives without a car. Bicycle-friendly commutes means that our previously expanding world is shrinking again into smaller communities.
There are many areas of South Delta where walking is not only encouraged, it’s superior to driving.
Those visiting the Ladner Village Market during the summertime can feel the enjoyment of being in a European-style village where a pedestrian is free to wander.
During the Olympics, Vancouver shut down roads to allow visitors to mill about, offering an enjoyable glimpse of a world without cars.
In some respects we’ve reached our breaking point with the automobile. Anyone who has spent just one day trying to squeeze into 11 lanes of merging traffic through the Massey Tunnel knows that.
But does it make sense to ban drive-thrus in Delta? Well, no.
Tsawwassen Springs is a golf course where the main means of access is by car. Nobody is likely to hoof their golf clubs on a bicycle to play 18 holes. A drive-thru here is as logical as a parking lot.
Let’s not put the cart before the horse here. Communities which are planned to be car-friendly will logically cater to drivers. Communities planned to be pedestrian-friendly won’t need a drive-thru.
If you don’t want drive-thrus then support high density urban planning, which usually brings the sort of amenities that eliminate the need for cars.