Last fall, the McDonald’s restaurant here in Lakeside Village of Horizon West was constructed and opened. It’s built identically to the style and site plan of the McDonald’s in Winter Garden Village. This is not an anti McDonald’s tirade. In fact, I enjoy their fries as much as anyone. And it’s not completely an anti drive-through tirade. After all, I have kids and sometimes that’s just plain easier. This is a ding on the developer and county officials who approved the site plan for this restaurant.
McDonald’s wanted a drive-through in this ‘pedestrian-friendly’ location. They got it. Sad thing is, at this location, an individual outside of the vehicle gets twice as much exposure to moving vehicles as an individual at a typical suburban fast food restaurant with a drive-through!
During a typical drive-through process (and this is not great), a motorist must enter the property from the main thoroughfare, drive down the right side of the building, place the order at the rear of the building, drive around the left side of the building to pick up the order, and exit onto the main thoroughfare. Each individual walking to the property or coming from a parked car has one chance of exposure to each car moving through the drive-through.
At the new McDonald’s in our pedestrian-friendly Horizon West, each person walking from a parked car or from off property has double the exposure! No matter which vehicular access a motorist enters from, they must drive all the way around the building before placing an order. Then of course the process takes them around the building again after picking up the food order.
What gives?! This is worse than the usual suburban template. How was this allowed to happen here in Horizon West?
It’s time that we demand better. All drive-throughs are auto-oriented, but it’s time to think creatively about how they can be better integrated. The one-size-fits-all approach and standard cookie cutter template are no longer good enough.
If County officials won’t uphold the foundations of Horizon West, we have to remind them. And we have to stay ahead of their approval process by understanding what is at stake.
By the way, below are photos of fast food restaurants elsewhere with drive-through configurations that better separate motorists from individuals on foot in the parking lot or walking to the restaurant. It is possible to do better.