Mom on e-bike denied service at Colwood Tim Horton’s drive-thru

WatchShould bikes be allowed in drive-thrus? A Greater Victoria mom was shocked to learn she couldn't ride her e-bike through a Tim Horton's drive thru. Tess van Straaten reports.

For mom of three Charity Millar, an electric bike is how her young family gets around.

“We were really quite aware of our carbon footprint and hoping to ease that,” Millar says.

The family gave up their car a couple years ago so after taking her little ones to get their immunizations Monday morning, Millar promised them a donut and thought nothing of riding her e-bike into the Tim Horton’s drive-thru in Colwood.

“I didn’t have time to go inside,” Millar explains. “There’s not really great bike parking there and it would add an extra 15 to 20 minutes with me unloading the kids and loading the kids back up.”

But Millar was denied service because wasn’t in a vehicle.

“It’s an emotional thing when somebody tells you they can’t serve you,” she says. “It does feel quite awful.”

The incident is something her friend and cycling advocate Elise Cote says points to a bigger issue in our car-centric society.

“I think we’re trailblazers at this point,” Cote says. “There isn’t the infrastructure for us to safely and easily and without hassle swap our cars for bikes, especially with little kids and bigger rigs.”

The managers at the Colwood Tim Horton’s said they couldn’t do an on-camera interview but they told CHEK News e-bikes aren’t allowed for safety reasons.

The company policy, nationwide, is that only licensed vehicles can go through the drive-thru.

But video of a Mountie and cowboy going through a Tim Horton’s drive-thru in Saskatchewan last month has gone viral and Millar says the safety argument makes no sense.

“I ride on the road all the time with cars and I find it ridiculous,” Millar says. “The road can accommodate all of us and therefore bikes should be able to go through a drive-thru.”

Cyclists say it’s time for companies to change their policies to reflect the climate crisis.

And while environmentally-conscious moms Millar and Cote are the first to admit drive-thrus are bad for the planet, they say the difference with bikes using them is they’re not idling.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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