Utah Restaurant Association to Cyclists: Skip the Drive-Thru

After the association failed to prevent passage of a Salt Lake City ordinance allowing bike riders to breeze into restaurant drive-thrus, the group successfully appealed its case to the state legislature.

Your Taco Bell fourthmeal wasn’t meant to be enjoyed on a mountain bike.

In Salt Lake City, however, the issue of cyclists in the city’s drive-thrus has been driving some passionate debate. Both the state’s legislature and the Utah Restaurant Association (URA) have weighed in.

Last fall, the city council passed an ordinance requiring businesses with drive-thru windows to serve customers on foot or bike at any time. Speaking to the Associated Press, Councilman Luke Garrott said the move was meant to “correct the imbalance of the transportation system in Salt Lake City.”

The measure was designed to encourage use of alternate modes of transportation, but it raised liability concerns for businesses.

“We cannot mix bikes and pedestrians with vehicles in our service lanes,” URA CEO Melva Sine told the National Restaurant Association in August. “What if someone slips or gets run over? The city doesn’t get sued, the restaurant gets sued. Restaurant owners need the flexibility to manage their own risk, just like the city manages its own risk.”

The restaurant owners took their case up a notch to the state legislature, where Rep. Johnny Anderson introduced HB160.

“We could not work a compromise with Salt Lake City that would prevent us from having higher insurance costs and higher risk associated,” Sine testified before the Utah House’s Political Subdivisions Committee.

In a post on the Utah Politico Hub, Anderson said that concerns about the state superseding the city council’s authority were fair, but he argued that the risk to local businesses justified the measure.

The bill passed both chambers of the legislature, but it’s unclear whether Gov. Gary Herbert will sign it.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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