Friday, June 22, 2007

Walking up to the ATM

I've enjoyed my week off. Thanks to the CycleDog for filling in with his though provoking article on dominant car-centric thinking, even among many cycling advocates. Thanks also to all of you left comments and pointers to blogs over this last week.

This article about influence of cheap energy on our city designs mentions that walking up to a drive-through ATM might result in you getting menaced by a large truck.

Which reminded me of the ATM behind my office when I worked in Longmont, Colorado. My co-workers and I frequently went out the back door of the building and walked over the railroad tracks to the restaurants along Ken Pratt Boulevard near Hover Street. I sometimes stopped at the drive-through ATM on the way, and I could absolutely count on a driver pulling up after me getting cranky at me and saying some words about my presence on two feet.

Excuse me, but that's just insane. The delay in his access to the ATM is no different if I'm in a car or on foot, or, for that matter, on bike. Can somebody explain why anybody should be offended at my ambulatory presence at a drive-through cash machine?

Thank you.

P.S. I have a new bike: The Raleigh One Way. See my impressions here.


  1. I was refused service at 2 banks and a McD's when I rode up to the window on a bike. Curiously, the local Taco Bueno will serve someone on a bicycle at the drive-thru after they've closed the dining room. But they won't serve a pedestrian. go figure.

  2. Fritz-

    Nice job pointing out something about our culture I hadn't really picked up on.

    A Burger King drive-through refused to sell me food back in college because I had walked up (the main indoor dining area closed much earlier than the d-t). I remember being shocked that they would turn down a sale simply because I was not surrounded by two tons of steel.


    I would assume that McDonald's wouldn't refuse service to a guy on a motorcycle (also not an enclosed vehicle on 2 wheels), so it must be the presence of the engine that makes you a desirable customer. I wonder if an electric bike would be OK to them? If not, what about electric cars? Is it a safety issue in their minds? I don't get it.

  3. I think it has something to do with how people feel like it's extremely important to follow rules (stated or implied). So much that the feel it's their duty to make sure everyone follows the heard. I think of them as the border collies of society.

    My wife is a big time rule follower, when we are in a line she gets really uncomfortable when people don't follow the line etiquette. I always ask her why she is in the line in the first place. There isn't a sign instructing her to stand in a line why not just crowd your way forward? She then gives me a look like "if you don't shut your mouth right know I'm going to kick you in the balls!" Which usually keeps me in line, the comfort of my balls are more important to me then questioning societal norms.

  4. I've made the same point about drivers being upset about waiting behind cyclists in traffic. When they're waiting behind a car it's no problem but when they have to wait behind a cyclist they freak out and start mowing people over.

  5. Douglas Grant posted a recent experience at Walgreens to the iBOB list last week. I wonder what they'd do with a Stokemonkey-equiped Xtracycle?

    Here's his letter in it's entirety:

    Today I was turned away from my Drug Store drive thru due to a policy
    to not serve bicyclists in the drive thru. This was on my ride home
    from work. Has this happened to anyone else? The contents of my
    complaint letter are below.

    I was recently at my local Walgreens to pick up my prescription. I am
    a Diabetic that commutes by bicycle to and from work as part of my
    exercise routine and for environmental reasons. I had no bike lock
    and my bicycle is as valuable to me as a car is to someone else. I
    decided to use the drive thru window as no secure area was available
    to leave the bike outside. The pharmacist informed me that I could
    not be served in the drive thru on a bicycle. When I asked why I was
    told it was corporate policy. I asked if a motorcycle could be served
    and they said yes. I then asked if a moped would be served and they
    said yes. I asked why a bicycle was any different and they said
    corporate policy. I asked if it was corporate policy to only serve
    vehicles that pollute and at this point the manager got angry with
    me. I have been a customer of Walgreens for many years and found this
    policy not only insulting but also backward thinking and wrong when
    Diabetes is on the upswing and global warming is looking more like a
    fact than a theory. Is this actual Corporate policy? If so I will
    move my business to a more forward thinking company and will advise
    others to do the same. I will also inform Environmental and
    Sustainable transportation groups to protest and boycott your stores.
    If this is not corporate policy I expect a verbal apology from the
    Manager and Pharmacist. Nothing short of this will prevent me from
    moving my prescriptions to one of your competitors.

    Consumer Relations Contact Information
    Phone: toll-free 800-289-2273
    7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central Time, Monday thru Friday

  6. I would only consider it a problem for a pedestrian to use the drive through at a bank, when there is also an ATM available for pedestrians. My bank has that set-up, and I would be a little annoyed if a pedestrian was using the drive-through. No big deal if it is the only one, though. I certainly wouldn't berate someone in either case. Now the dimwits who try to send coin rolls through the air chutes...

  7. Douglas Grant needs to come to my pharmacy...we have a drive through window and will be more than happy to dispense his prescriptions to him through that very window!!!

    If we all complain up the chain of Doug did... oh... the times are a changing.


  8. I know various companies have policies prohibiting service to cyclists at drive throughs. This is an ATM, though, so no customer-service individual to tell me to go away.

  9. My Taco Bell and McCrap both told me they are not allowed to serve cyclists thru the drive up for insurance reasons. Their insurance policies apparently won't cover me if I get run over by some jack ass in a humvee - but I would be covered if I was in a motorized vehicle. I can walk up or ride up to the drive up window at the bank - they could care less. If I want fast food I go to Super Sonic. They have order windows I can walk up to.