Banning Portillo’s hot dogs on bikes in their drive-thru service doesn’t cut the mustard
I realize that writing an article on Streetsblog Chicago inspired by a boring thing that recently happened to me on my bike is sort of a âthink local, act globallyâ situation. But responses on social media suggest that sort of thing is quite a common experience for people who cycle in Chicago, so there you go.
On Monday, I needed a little inspiration to pedal a few miles despite the gloomy weather, so I decided to make my very first visit to a Hot Dogs restaurant in Portillo. Yes, although I recently created a map that highlights iconic restaurants in almost every community area in Chicago, I have never eaten at Portillo’s. This is a chain founded by Villa Park and until recently owned by Mexican Americans that serves as an ambassador for Chicagoland street food, selling Italian beef sandwiches, hot dogs a la Chicago and Polish sausages from Maxwell Street in such remote places. like Florida and Las Vegas. In this sense, the company is doing the work of the Lord.
– John Greenfield (@greenfieldjohn) November 15, 2021
My route from Uptown to the nearest Portillo outpost in Avondale, which included part of the recently completed 312 RiverRun trail system, was quite enjoyable. When I got there around 11pm, the dining room was closed, but there were still several motorists waiting at the drive, so I lined up with my bike. It was at this point that several employees told me politely and apologizing that they could not serve anyone at the drive-thru who was not in a car, as this went against the law. company policy, due to liability issues.
Portillo’s public relations department did not respond to a request I sent yesterday for clarification of the policy of not serving people on foot or by bike via drive-thru, and why it exists. .
When I tweeted my frustration With the situation, a dozen people responded that they had had the same aggravating experience of being refused a fast food service because they were not in a car. Here is a sample of the comments.
- âI went there when it opened, I sat in front of the entrance with my bike, downloaded and ordered on the app. Stupid policy, haven’t been back since. Kudos to the heroes of Popeye California and Diversey for being cool about me riding my bike in the drive-thru.
- “I have always found the Edgewater White Castle suitable for bikes.
- âSo silly. It happened to me once in a different place. I was in a bar, I was hungry, I walked somewhere that had closed inside but had an open passage and they told me to come back with a car. When I said I was drunk, they repeated, “You can drive back.”
- “I had the same experience at McDonald’s and it is more than frustrating.”
- âIt shouldn’t be allowed. If we want to have a city that is conducive to not owning a car, at a minimum bicycles should be allowed in drive-through services. “
Interestingly, in another city that is conducive to not owning a car, bicycles are permitted in all drive-thru services under certain circumstances. Brendan Kevenides of bicycle firm FK Law (a sponsor of Streetsblog Chicago) informed me that in 2018 Portland, Oregon passed a law requiring companies with drive-thru services to serve people on foot and to bike at times when there are no other options to obtain the service. “In a city [like Chicago] claiming to want to encourage cycling, it is inexplicable that businesses with ATMs, like fast food restaurants, are not required by ordinance to serve people by bicycle, âKevenides said.
Obviously, there are class issues – if you don’t earn enough money to allow you to travel by car, you may be denied service in establishments hostile to pedestrians and bicycles, while the carpet car-centric red is rolled out for wealthier customers. This was likely a significant issue for people without a car during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when dining rooms were closed and in some cases drive-ins were the only way to order in. fast food restaurants. So would it be possible to win a discrimination case?
âA trial of the type you suggest would probably not be successful,â Kevenides said. “There is no federal, state or local law or ordinance that prohibits a business from discriminating against people based on their mode of transportation.”
Another cycling lawyer, Michael Keating (also a sponsor of Streetsblog) agrees. “Bicycles are not a protected class.” He also agreed that such rules are wrong. âHorrible policy. Insurance restrictions are what they claimâ¦ [but] if it is motivated by insurance companies, your target should be the insurance industry, not the restaurant. In other words, hate the game, not the gamer.
– Mike Keating (@ILBicycleLaw) November 16, 2021
A more serious problem during the crisis was that many pandemic testing sites were only accessible by driving, although many more went without an appointment.
Kevenides said the drive-thru issue had personally affected him during the early days of COVID when he needed to take a prescription from a Walgreens and wanted to avoid potential exposure to the virus by using the drive-thru, rather than entering the store, and was turned away. âI do not accept the excuse that such companies are simply trying to protect the cycling public. If that was really the case, the driveways could be designed with cyclist safety in mind with good lighting, signage and other design elements. Raising the public behind the wheel before everyone else is foolish and probably bad for business. “
Your bike is welcome at our drive-in (And the @SuperdawgWheel drive-thru) at any time ðð²ð
– Superdawg Chicagoð (@Superdawg) November 17, 2021
On the bright side, as you can see from the tweet above, there is at least one other beloved Chicagoland hot dog vendor who welcomes cyclists with open arms.