BIKING IN DRIVE-THROUGH LANES
September 10, 2005
Back to questions
Good Web site.
I got chewed out by the bank teller
yesterday for biking to the drive-up window at the Bank
One/Chase in my neighborhood. She said its for my
own safety that they will no longer serve me if I come thru
on my bicycle. I must use my car to use this service or
go into the bank and stand in the ridiculously long lines.
My local branch has 12 teller windows
but NEVER has more than three open tellers. There are usually
about 20 people waiting in line. It is easy to incite a
lively verbal exchange by pointing out that the bank is
too cheap to hire adequate help and consequently wastes
our time standing in their lines while at the same time
the bank has bought more real estate a few blocks away and
is proudly advertising that the new branch will be able
to meet all our banking needs. Soon a few of us are openly
demanding that they bring out MORE TELLERS. HERE! NOW!
But I digress . . . except to explain
that I don't like to go inside and would prefer to bike
to their drive-up teller.
What are my rights as a biker at
drive-up service windows? Does the law say anything about
When they say they care about "your
safety" they mean "their liability," which
I view as typical of a culture dominated by cars and litigation.
On your bike the bank sees you as a small child who hasnt
learned to swim and without adult supervision, and thisd
make them not just foolish, but irresponsible to let you
swim in their pool.
I dont even play a
lawyer on TVbut I nonetheless opine that there probably
exist, from a legal standpoint, no existing hazards to bike
riders from which the bank must protect itself with their
bike ban. (I wrote about this at length in a case
study.) So I believe you must appeal to their common
sense and civic-mindedness, or shame them.
Lets take the latter first.
Write the president of one of your banks chief competitors
and explain your dilemma. Say that if the competitor doesnt
have a policy that bans bikes in its drive-thrus youll
switch banks prontoand youll gladly appear
at the press conference where they formally announce their
policy. The free market at work.
Not enough theater in that approach?
Try this one: Get a pal to videotape you. Then borrow a
motorcycle and use it in your bank's drive-thru. Next do
the same thing, but beforehand turn off the motor and push
it thru with your feet. Next borrow a motor scooter and
push it thru. (Presumably you get served each time
with no problem.) Finally, go thru with a motorized bicycle
and, ultimately, a regular bike. You probably wont
get served one of these last two times. You send the tape
to local TV stations with a press release announcing a press
conference at which you and other local bikers decry the
banks inconsistent, senseless, and (of course) discriminatory
Second option: the appeal. Send
a letter to your banks president, explaining that
you chose their bank partly due to their fine reputation
for community support, customer service, blah blah blah
. . . so you feel certain that the president would
not want to alienate any part of the community, especially
one that champions a healthy and environmentally sound form
of transportation. If your town has bicycle-friendly policies,
cite those and even the mayors name.
As for the law: In Chicago where
I live, the municipal code (which you can see on-line,
for other U.S. cities as well) doesnt regulate what
kind of vehicles or non-vehicles can traverse private property
such as drive-thru lanesa condition I expect to find
typical elsewhere. This empty cup, the law, you must sometimes
fill with your own brew. Drink hearty.