Drive-throughs – Not a traffic convenience

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LAHORE – Drive-throughs of various restaurants across Lahore have been established without abiding by appropriate drive through rules or regulations, which is becoming a nuisance for commuters, Pakistan Today has learnt.
Long car queues are seen in extensive drive-throughs of restaurants blocking the traffic flow completely. As fast food is gaining more and more popularity, commuters prefer using Drive-throughs instead of spending time on dining inside. Drive-throughs allow consumers to buy food while sitting in their car and drive through the restaurant. Usually there are two counters in a drive through.
At the first counter, the order is placed with the payment and on the other counter, the order is given to the customer. The vehicle drives through the restaurants while acquiring the desired order. At present there are three restaurants in the city which have a drive through, McDonalds Y Block Defence Housing Authority (DHA), McDonalds Main Boulevard, Gulberg and Hardees, MM Alam Road. Amazingly, all restaurants tend to block adjacent roads due to lack of planning and design. Adding to the problem is the great difference in demand and supply, which leaves consumers with only three Drive-throughs in the entire city where they could acquire quick food.
Resultantly, lengthy queues are seen outside such restaurants badly affecting traffic flow. Despite many attempts, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) refused to hand over the copy of drive through regulations. According to international standards, constructing a drive through requires a special permit approval in foreign countries. In order to obtain a special permit approval, the city administration makes sure that; The design and location of the facility will not contribute to increased congestion on public or private streets or alleys adjacent to the subject property. No drive through should be constructed within 100 yards of an active signal junction.
The design and location of the facility will not impede access to or exit from the parking lot serving the business, impair normal circulation within the parking lot or impede pedestrian movement. The design and location of the facility will not create a nuisance for adjacent properties. A facility with a separate ordering point and pick-up window shall provide stacking space for at least 4 vehicles in advance of each ordering point and stacking space for at least 4 vehicles between each ordering point and pick-up window. Entrances to drive-up lanes shall be at least 25 feet from driveways entering a public or private street or alley. Drive-up service facilities shall not be considered as justification for reducing the number of required parking spaces.
The minimum width of each drive-through lane shall be 11 feet. The entrance to the lane and the direction of traffic flow shall be clearly designated by signs and pavement marking or raised curbs. A solid six-foot high masonry sound wall shall be constructed on the property boundary when the site is contiguous to residentially zoned or used property(s). Operation of the drive-up service facility shall be restricted to between the hours of 7am and 10pm. A minimum of a 0.50+ acre site shall be provided for a drive-through facility within an existing shopping center and/or urban areas. “Franchise architecture” is strongly discouraged.
Drive-through facilities shall be architecturally compatible with the best examples of nearby structures and compliment existing or planned streetscape elements. Building design, location and parking areas should be designed to provide pedestrian orientation and clearly identify areas for pedestrian access. A minimum of 20 percent of the site should be landscaped. As obvious the basic reason of establishing such laws is to minimise problems faced by commuters using the same road and reduce environmental threats, as cars emit smoke during the entire take away process. Ironically all Drive-throughs in Lahore are built with loopholes which tents to disturb the environment in many ways.
McDonalds at DHA Y Block is located right on a major junction between Sheeba Park and Y Block commercial area. The drive through attracts many fast food lovers creating a big mess and choking the traffic flow. McDonalds at Main Boulevard Gulberg attracts the most crowd, as it is one of the oldest drive through and also because many schools and colleges falls in its vicinity. Hardees is located at one of the busiest road of Lahore, MM Alam Road. The line outside Hardees blocks the road, creating congestions. Although a traffic warden is deployed near Hardees, traffic seems to be choked at rush hours owing it to the drive through.
Restaurant management of all Drive-throughs refused to comment about violation of the bylaws. A restaurant manager, seeking anonymity said, “Whatever we have done has been completed with consensus of the LDA, I have all the design copies which are approved by the LDA”. LDA Public Relations Officer (PRO) Sohail Janjua, passing the buck to the traffic management department, said that it was up to traffic police to control traffic flow on adjacent roads. “The traffic disorder outside drive through restaurants is not a contractual issue but a traffic issue, which is not LDA’s responsibility”, Janjua said. He said that only one restaurant in the city that has been allowed to have a drive through is McDonalds Main Boulevard and rest have opened Drive-throughs without permission.
The LDA PRO said, “Even a Panwala could have a drive through, the LDA can’t do anything about it”. According to sources, such restaurants are operating with the consensus of LDA. “The LDA has allowed them to continue their Drive-throughs that is the only reason why they are running otherwise they would have been long gone”, he added. Despite repeated attempts, DHA PRO Tajjamul Hassan was not available for comments.