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Fast Food and Bicyclists: Two Peas in a Pod?

It seems like the ultimate contradiction–a presumably environmentally-conscious bike rider in Portland, Oregon gets riled up because she can’t go through a local fast food chain’s drive-through window on her two-wheeled ride. She gets so riled up, in fact, that she fires off an angry tweet and writes a letter on her blog about the whole experience.

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It seems like the ultimate contradiction–a presumably environmentally-conscious bike rider in Portland, Oregon gets riled up because she can’t go through a local fast food chain’s drive-through window on her two-wheeled ride. She gets so riled up, in fact, that she fires off an angry tweet and writes a letter on her blog about the whole experience. And amazingly, the fast food chain responds by announcing the creation of a more accommodating drive-through program by September 8.

This wasn’t the local McDonald’s–it was Burgerville, a fast food chain in the Pacific Northwest that uses local, sustainable ingredients in its food and recycled used cooking oil for biodiesel. So it makes a little more sense that Burgerville would quickly respond to Sarah Gilbert’s tweet, which was blasted out to the freelance writer’s 3000 followers. In the short term, Burgerville will post signs directing bikers to the pick-up window, but eventually the chain hopes to install a more high-tech solution.

Burgerville is far from the only fast food chain to ignore bicyclists–both McDonald’s and Burger King ban bikes from their drive-through windows due to supposed safety concerns. But while sustainability-minded bikers have every reason to show their faces at Burgerville, there’s no excuse for heading to Mickey D’s and Burger King in the first place. McDonald’s is in cahoots with commodities company Cargill, which has been accused of destroying the Amazon rainforest, while Burger King gets palm oil from Sinar Mas, a company that is deforesting land in the country. Both chains are guilty of shipping and trucking in ingredients for their food from all over the world–a practice that contributes greatly to climate change and energy inefficiency.

Should Burger King and McDonald’s open up their drive-through’s to bicyclists? Sure. But any biker that is traveling on two wheels because it’s a green alternative to cars would do well to stick with responsible chains like Burgerville or, hey, maybe just refrain from fast food entirely.

[Via USA Today]

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.

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