The mom 'nets have been sizzling over the discussion sparked by the recent story on Today's Parent titled Should Parents With Strollers Be Allowed On Public Transit?
Discussions have flared up on Twitter, Facebook and numerous mom blogs. I have mostly stayed out of it as my kids are (thank GOD) well past the stroller stage. However, my childhood was spent in the UK with family that did nothing BUT take strollers on buses and therefore I think there is a lot more to the story than is being discussed.
I have never been on a Toronto bus, but I do ride the Vancouver transit system as little as possible because frankly, it sucks. I too don't think it is family or child-friendly and as someone who grew up carless, feel for those who have no choice.
However, it IS about choice, since Vancouver is supposedly all about being a greener city and being green and taking transit should be for everyone, families included and that means not only making buses more family friendly but our culture too.
Not only are buses not designed for strollers (especially folded up), our culture is not designed for it either. People on buses and the Skytrain are not very friendly. They don't appreciate ANYONE who is not fully compact with those annoying backpacks and totally tuned out on their iPods. Anyone with wheelchairs, bikes, packages or babies are considered an infringement on their right to travel without acknowledging those around them.
I grew up in Scotland where the buses seemed to be dominated by seniors and families. I recall being offered a "wee sweetie" by little old ladies and I also recall my cousin and mother of four being offered HELP getting her kids and stroller on the bus. Let's also remember the strollers were smaller and the buses there had a storage spot at the front.
People helped moms. I don't see that too often here and now. Vancouver is not a "helping" city. We are a tad narcissistic and a tad selfish and so when a mom shows up fully loaded (what is WITH all that stuff you are bringing!) on a bus, all we think about is how late that person is going to make us and that their babies better not even look at me.
Family-friendly transit means not only making buses run more frequently and be designed better, but it also means creating cities that don't equate families with minivans and the idea that if you are on a bus you are too poor for a minivan and the "why did you have kids then" mentality.
It also means stroller companies designing transit-friendly strollers and teaching moms that you CAN travel light with kids. Don't LOAD up your stroller with so much stuff that you can't fold it up. The age of self-entitlement is not making things very friendly — eco, or otherwise.
Everyone can and should be taking the bus. It should not be an onerous undertaking for anyone.
Follow Kerry Sauriol on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CrunchyCarpets