Dave Reid

Exit Freeway, Get Drunk?

By - Dec 11th, 2009 09:02 am
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A driver pulls his Ford 150 off at an exit on I-94, and proceeds to cut across the parking lot of the newest sprawling mall development in Wisconsin.  He then takes two spots in the Flingers parking lot, far enough from other cars to avoid door dings, but more importantly aimed perfectly for a quick exit.  At Flingers he orders extreme fajitas, throws down a few bombs, be it the Irish car bomb, Jaeger bomb, cherry bomb, and a couple that he’s convinced the bartender just made up.  He climbs back in his vehicle only to drive across the sea of parking to his next destination, Chotchkie’s.  Here it is for a brew or two, one quick shot of Jameson and back on to the freeway.

Thankfully, Pabst Farms will also have the new Aurora Medical Center conveniently located just off I-94.

In the most recent Wisconsin state budget, Oconomowoc was granted the ability to issue an additional eight liquor licenses.  The purpose of these licenses are to allow Pabst Farms Town Centre to recruit chain restaurants to the project.  Typically restaurants that include full bars such as T.G.I. Friday’s, Applebee’s, Chili’s, and who knows maybe even a Hooters.  Yes, these aren’t the places where most people go to tie one on, but time and time again we see liquor licenses located where people will most certainly have to drive to the establishment, and then we wonder why people drive drunk.

Again, it is not to say people can’t drink, or restaurants shouldn’t serve, or we shouldn’t have “tougher” drunk driving laws, but that we need to understand the implication of locating restaurants with full bars within a sea of parking, right off the freeway, with no hope of ever have transit access.  It’s quite simple really, when you design for the automobile, people drive.

Categories: Politics

20 thoughts on “Exit Freeway, Get Drunk?”

  1. Mike Poe says:

    Sometimes I wonder myself whether our legislators have ever thought of this. You have been refering to this formula forever, yet it continues.

    Now that stiffer laws are being passed against drunken driving, people in the suburbs are going to have to be extra careful while they are incoherent and wasted….

    You would think the state that drinks the most would have great public transit.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Mike Yeah, sorry I know I harp on this one fairly often, but I run across articles on occasion (js pabst farms article spurred this) that just forces me to say something. Further, you’re point on transit is something I really haven’t even touched on enough in regards to this topic. Real transit options certainly could help here as well..

  3. Honestly, I’ve never thought of this either. However, this is the first I’ve heard of it, and I get it. Wouldn’t it be great if the people that write our laws “get it” the first time as well?

  4. Dave Reid says:

    @Zach It gets worse is some municipalities there are parking requirements based on the number of bar stools!

  5. EWO says:

    I’ve seen a solution for small towns with good beer and no public transportation.

    I once spend a few days in a small town in Arkansas called “Ft Smith,” The town has a lot of great bars and it’s located in the middle of nowhere, so yes there is a lot of nightly drinking. It was good fun, but it was in pickup truck land. To prevent drunk driving the town has a booze bus service. From any bar you can call this bus and it will pick you up at the bar and bring you home completely free. I dont know if this was a city service of a chamber of commerce service, but it worked great, and i imagine that it was a lot cheaper than the public damage from 100’s of DUI’s

  6. Scott says:

    To play devil’s advocate, just because one person drove there, doesn’t mean there isn’t 3 or more passengers in the same car that can drink w/o driving. Of course that isn’t always the case, but it’s certainly a fair argument.

  7. Scott says:

    Also, having a single beer over the course of a meal does not make an average person intoxicated. I rarely have more than one beer at a place such as those listed.

  8. Jesse Hagen says:

    Scott, we both know the situations you describe are by far the exceptions and not what usually happens.

  9. c. says:

    Interesting perspective, Dave. Nice article. Now if only our legislators would think this way!

  10. Dave Reid says:

    @Scott My big picture point is that when you design for auto only access, you will get people driving it’s just the reality. Certainly there are many who have a beer with dinner and then drive home and are just fine, but the full bars these places contain aren’t after the one beer person now are they.

  11. Dave Reid says:

    @c. Yeah, we so often point to the drinking part of the problem, but ignore the driving portion. When we design for people to drive, and exclude other modes such as transit, walking, or even biking, then what do we expect of people. They will drive.

  12. Ken says:

    “Scott, we both know the situations you describe are by far the exceptions and not what usually happens.”- What?!?! Those are by far not the exceptions. Most people don’t go to Applebee’s to get drunk. Yes there are the exceptions, however saying that most people at Applebee’s or TGI Friday’s are too drunk to drive is just wrong.

  13. John Mal says:

    Is it just me, or do most of these people have a bug up thier butt about cars and roads? Not everyone lives downtown and works within walking distance of home. And mass transit isn’t cost effective to place everywhere. How about focusing on some of the other city problems, like high property tax, fraudulent inner city day care centers, welfare abusers, delinquent fathers, inner city crime. None of which will be solved by adding busses unless you plan on loading them up and driving them off the Hoan bridge!

  14. O says:

    As someone who actually lives outside of Milwaukee, I think the people in the City of Milwaukee should take a closer look at their environment before commenting on issues outside their city. I am not trying to diminish the issue, but did you bring up these issues when Bayshore Mall, Mayfair, and South Ridge expanded? Each one of these is located within close proximity to express way ramps…and are all in your backyard.

  15. Dave Reid says:

    @O Bayshore Mall, Mayfair, and South Ridge I’m not sure these are in the City of Milwaukee’s backyard or in our environment, as none are located in the City of Milwaukee, though certainly they are closer than Pabst Farms. And other than Bayshore off hand I don’t remember South Ridge or Mayfair (other than the Cheescake factory) expanding anytime recently. As far as Bayshore it is interesting because it actually has some ability for people to walk or bike (actually pretty easy ride from downtown Milwaukee) to it, both from the residences it contains and the neighborhood that is actually walkable from this mall.

    That said the point of the article is primarily that when we design for people to drive to a destination, at the exclusion of other modes of transportation, people will drive regardless of if they are having a drink. i.e if we design solely for the automobile, people will drive.

  16. colucci says:

    I think this discussion is missing the larger context of “drunk driving”. Everyone, from politicians to the media to the general public, blames drunk driving for highway deaths. If a person has an accident with 0.08 pba, the entire accident is blamed on “the drunk”. It’s the easy way out.

    In reality, DRIVING is the main killer. Most highway deaths occur driving to and from work among perfectly sober people. I learned this going through 5 years highway accident statistics when I lived in MN – which despite their denial drinks just as much as WI. I cringe every time I hear someone repeat the completely false and misleading mantra “Drunk driving is the number one killer of you people between the ages of 15 and 24”. If someone is engaged in a dangerous act (driving) you can’t say that another factor (alcohol, cell phones, eating, putting on make-up) is the sole cause of an accident.

    When is the last time you read a Journal article about the tragedy of suburban commuter life causing thousands of deaths every year? Or an article about the gross irresponsibility of the offending driver who deliberately chose to live 20 miles from work knowing full well that they are increasing their chance of killing another person?

    I really don’t care if people choose to live in the suburbs. It’s their choice. I do however have a problem when their choices affect my lifestyle. Yes I want to raise the legal limit back to 0.10 and I want to lower the drinking age back to 19.

    Not that I have strong opinions on this or anything….


  17. Dave Reid says:

    @colucci Yes, I definitely agree that a big big part of the discussion that is often left out is that of the driving. Though, that is in part what I’m getting at with this article. In that when we design so people can’t walk, take a bus, or call a cab then people will drive. Whereas in a walkable urban environment people have the option, no need, or no desire to drive, and therefore minimize this problem.

  18. colucci says:

    Sorry if I came of raging in my post. You’re point is clear: If you don’t want people to drive drunk, don’t make them drive to the bars.

    I totally agree that what’s needed is an emphasis on a walkable urban environment and effective mass transit (ie. trains, not buses). The problem now is that Milwaukee like most US cities is too sparsely populated to justify train lines out to the suburbs. So somehow you have to argue that new train lines will lead to smarter, higher density growth, rather than serve the needs of those who don’t want it in the first place. It’s a tough sell.

    Subways anyone? 😉


  19. michael james says:

    I have recently noticed that the bars downtown and on Water Street are very close to the highway as well, and, as these establishments obviously produce far more drunk drivers on any given night than would a few new chain restaurants in the repulsive County of Waukesha (where F150 driving barbarians live), I suggest, that from this day fourth, only true “Milwaukee Urbanites” be allowed to drink downtown… unless you can prove you arrived by bus, taxi cab, street car, or on your own two tootsies (but preferably by streetcar), no booze for you!!!… and please leave your bicycles and other self propelled forms of transportation at home (these are for going to: work, Altera, and weekend farmers markets) because yes my friends, it’s also illegal to drive these with a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.

    …I don’t think the “suburban hate” is very constructive

  20. Dave Reid says:

    @michael james An urban environment gives people options, i.e. walking, transit, cab service, and so on, whereas the establishments in question, out at Pabst Farms, will essentially have no other way to access except by car, therefore people will drive.

    Further I do hope people drinking on Water St. take the options you laid out to get to the bar, otherwise they will be drinking and driving, but again at least in an urban environment they have options.

    PS It is UrbanMilwaukee.com

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