Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Strollers and Such
There's been a lot of talk in Toronto about strollers on the TTC, since a private citizen filed a complaint about parents with "SUV strollers" jamming up the buses, especially during rush hour. As a non-parent and regular TTC user, my first thought was "thank you!" The strollers are a huge pain in the ass. However, my next thought was what can anyone possibly do about it? I can't deny parents, or especially children, the right to space on the bus. Forcing babies and small children off the bus and into the cold seems unbelievably heartless. However, it's hard not to be a little sympathetic to the people, able-bodied or otherwise, who are forced to wait an extra fifteen minutes in 10 below weather because a stroller is taking up the same space three people could otherwise occupy, something which I've seen happen several times.
I think perception is a big part of the problem. While there are plenty of stroller-towing parents who are openly apologetic for the inconvenience to others they are causing, there are also some who are entirely unapologetic and glare daggers at passengers who accidentally bump their stroller trying to get past, or who don't part for their stroller like the red sea for Moses. Unfortunately, these parents ruin the reputation of the rest. I'm sure some of it is a natural response to the presumably exhausting process of taking small children on the TTC, or simply the protective nature of parents, but some of these parents need to be a little more self-aware (a statement which could likely equally be applied to almost any group, but there you have it).
It also definitely seems like strollers have gotten a LOT bigger in the past decade or so. I don't know why that is; whether they're cheaper to make or enhance child safety, but to people without kids it just looks like luxury at the expense of their fellow passengers. I'm sure many parents would prefer smaller, more manageable strollers if they could get them, because the massive beasts seem like they would be exhausting to shepherd all over town, so I have to assume that the larger models are the only viable option for most people. If true, that is unfortunate.
TTC bus designs also unfortunately exacerbate the problem. Parents with strollers understandably usually want to sit as close to the front as they can, since pushing through as few people as possible to exit the bus is ideal, but the buses usually narrow at the front entrance and the strollers are even more of a nuisance at that point. Some of the more heroic parents will, when the opportunity presents itself, sit near the middle of the bus by the rear door, relying on fellow passengers to help them get the stroller down from the higher entrance. However, even there some of the bus stops are poorly designed and the rear door does not open onto a concrete pad.
It's a problem without a solution, I'm afraid. I'd like to think that the recent hubbub will cause some parents to re-examine their behaviours and attitudes while on the TTC with strollers, but I'm afraid that it is more likely to cause even more of a them vs us combative atmosphere, which is just sad.