Transportation Tip: Check the bag twice in the drive thru

"Tacobellrestaurant" by Original uploader was Coolcaesar at en.wikipedia - Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

By: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director

This week's tip is for anybody who patronizes fast food restaurants. I'll get to that in a moment, but first your views...

Carpool lanes really need to start from Temecula, not at Murrieta. The traffic is horrible starting at Pechanga Parkway.
-Paula Ibarra de Vargas/TTC Website

Coalition Concept: Dual 2+ HOT Lanes in Temecula with free carpooling.
Note: Concept Only. Not endorsed by RCTC.
Agreed. In fact, with major development proposed through Temecula along Jefferson Avenue, the highway should have two 2+ HOV lanes each way through this area with an option for solos to buy their way in. The infrastructure should be paid for or built by the developers. RCTC had previously proposed a single 2+ carpool lane each way from Murrieta to SR-74 with a dual HOT lane system in both directions between SR-74 and SR-60. The official proposal has been scaled down. It is now a proposed dual 3+ HOT lane network eacy way between South Corona and SR-60 with all vehicles required to have FasTrak transponders.

While CVC 21760 is nice, let's remember that it basically invalidates itself. But the real issue is that it creates a catch-22 on the streets: don't hit the bikes (21760), but they're going to be in the way (21202). That can be a real problem when volume of bikes goes up from just one per hour, highlighting the importance of just-signed AB 1193 in allowing agencies to better configure the street network for optimal use.
-Marven/TTC ABE Talking Points Blog

Photo: © Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
That can be true for single lane shared roads due to a "substandard width lane". Therefore cyclists have an obligation to share the road with motorists so that traffic is not blocked. Cyclists need to allow faster traffic on such narrow roads to pass through when it's safe, and that's a tip from the CHP. For wider roads and ways with bicycle lanes, CVC 21202 addresses the blockage issue because bicycle riders are required to ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except when passing another vehicle or bicycle, preparing for a left turn, approaching a place for a right turn, or one way roads with two or more lanes. Of course, we have the gap issue for bike lanes that have a concrete gutter which could force cyclists to ride closer to the left of the bike lane. Officer discretion will be necessary to ensure CV 21760 is enforced in a fair matter.

Burger King Italy 2.jpg
"Burger King Italy 2" by Vincenzo Iaconianni
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Back to the tip.

The Inland Empire economy is showing some signs of improvement although I will admit that we still have ways to go before it becomes a robust state. That will be judged as salaries rise with the growing number of jobs. But I have seen some positive changes take place at entry level worksites including the fast food industry. I see more and more adolescents taking the entry posts as more people from the previous crews either move up or move on to better paying jobs as such opportunities continue to grow in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

With that, there is a little annoying side effect which I very well remember was frequent back in the late 90's and early 2000's--Errors in the order which can include a missing Happy Meal toy, a burger that was supposed have no onions that had onions, a slow drive thru, and--everybody's least favorite--cold fries. Back then, many fast food outlets were turning employees so quickly that some restaurants had "Now Hiring" signs posted on their windows for years at a time. I understand that it is very easy for an entry level employee to make such mistakes while packaging orders in a fast-paced environment. I'm pretty sure most of us have had that frustrating experience at one time or another when driving through to get that Big Mac, Famous Star, or Whopper.

Lately, I've begun to notice a slight increase of errors and service issues in some of my orders. Namely, I was shorted one Big Carl from one order and a few McDoubles from another. But that's simply a reality of an improving economy. Because fast food outlets generally pay low starting wages and more jobs are materializing in the marketplace, most fast food restaurants have to constantly hire and train new staff as experienced workers move on or get promoted. The reality is an increase in errors in customer orders. Now that many fast food outlets may be experiencing higher employee turnovers with the economic growth, we need to be prepared for the possibility that our fast food could be packaged by an inexperienced, entry level workforce which can include the possibility of mistakes and substandard service.

I'm aware I'm generalizing, and to be fair, there are companies, franchises and employers that use this reality as an opportunity to retain their employees though promotions, good treatment, higher pay with higher job responsibilities and granting opportunities for hard working individuals to move up in the company. That has been proven to reduce high employee turnovers during an improving economy and thus, these employers face fewer customer service problems because they are willing to pay more to keep their experienced staff. Look no further than In 'n Out Burger, Starbucks Coffee and Costco. But as customers, we need to be prepared for errors whether they materialize or not so that we are not caught by surprise.  Transportation Tip: Give yourself plenty of extra time for lunch and before you pull out of the drive through or walk out of the fast food joint, check your bag twice.

Footnote: I will be away from this blog through the first half of October as I prepare to write up The Transit Coalition's suggestions that will be submitted to the Riverside Transit Agency. If anything breaking comes up, I'll keep you posted. Otherwise, we appreciate you following us and I'll talk to you again soon.