Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The "Green" McDonald's

If you find yourself in transit along University Avenue, you've probably noticed the recently-opened "green" McDonald's franchise at Eucalyptus and University. The new building (for which they tore down a perfectly useful old building) incorporates solar panels into the parking lot, along with native landscaping and wood chips rather than traditional grass, and permeable gutters to direct groundwater back into the ground. These are the features that I can see from the outside while biking or bussing by, so they may even have more stuff going on on the inside.

Now, this "green" building also has two lanes of drive-through traffic (up from one at the previous site) and an entrance that faces their solar-shielded parking lot. In between the sidewalk (and frequently-served bus stop) and the street? Drive through lanes, native landscaping, and a permeable gutter. The "green" improvements at the store are literally getting in the way of customers using sustainable transport, shoving them aside for the sake of automobile-driving shoppers. Also, while I can't fully tell from the street (and would never imagine actually *eating* at a McDonald's), I don't see any bicycle parking- which would actually be a substantial asset for the customers and employees in this poor, minority-dominated bike-heavy neighbourhood.

Of course, this is a transport blog, so I won't get in to the horrible environmental impacts of the sort of factory-farmed agriculture that makes McDonald's profitable. I will, however, note that without provision for transit, cyclists and pedestrians, no amount of solar panels and permeable gutters will ever make a building green. Riverside's green Mickey D's is nothing but a shameless attempt at corporate greenwashing.

Oh, and by the way, the lack of pedestrian access is completely out of line with the University Avenue Specific Plan, which requires that buildings face the street and have entrances that are sidewalk-adjacent. Apparently if you're a megacorporation, you can get around those sorts of things.

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