Exasperated Duluthians can be left wondering once again: Will our City Council follow city officials elsewhere, most notably in Minneapolis, in taking up the next big target of outrage? You know, like Duluth councilors did when they chose which businesses can sell flavored tobacco, when they considered a ban on grocery bags, and when they enacted overreaching and unnecessary workplace rules?
The target this time? Hard to believe, but it's drive-thrus, those quick lanes of convenience and ease that allow us to do our banking, buy burgers, and even pick up prescriptions when we're not feeling well enough to get out of the car anyway. They make lives easier. For many motorists with disabilities, they're tantamount to a necessity.
Nonetheless, last week, the planning commission in Minneapolis discussed forbidding any new drive-thrus in the city, something city councilors apparently have been discussing for three years, according to Twin Cities news reports.
Drive-thrus create traffic congestion in neighborhoods, the opponents claim. But such issues are far more effectively addressed with existing zoning laws and with site-plan approvals that dictate where drive-thrus can be located and how they feed and impact pedestrian and vehicular traffic patterns. With appropriate oversight, drive-thrus long have been seamless parts of our lives rather than any sort of hardship.
Drive-thrus mean carbon emissions from idling cars, opponents also claim. But it's hard to see how banning drive-thrus would reduce the number of cars on our roads or the emissions they produce. The answer to concerns over emissions is alternatives to vehicle traffic and cleaner-running cars, which carmakers have been producing more and more of, including hybrids and electric cars, for decades.
"I think it's absolutely ridiculous," Twin Cities resident Timothy Rousu said in an interview with KSTP-TV last week when asked about banning drive-thrus.
As ridiculous as it may be, the Minneapolis Planning Commission has a public hearing scheduled for the first week of June. Commissioners are then expected to vote. And then it'd go to the City Council for final action.
Exasperated Duluthians, meanwhile, may be left wondering once again: How soon before this latest target of outrage is considered here?