City planner Alyse Nelson wrote a post yesterday about how she about died of embarrassment the first time she rode the bus with her son. The bus driver had the audacity to tell her to fold her stroller before coming on board! The rest of the post is all about how this rule discourages people from riding the bus, and wouldn't it be nice if we could be more like Copenhagen, where their aircraft-carrier-sized buses allow un-folded strollers and priority seating for parents of tots.
Is this for real? This complaint, I mean, not Copenhagen. Lord have mercy. In all my years of riding the bus all over Brooklyn, where we have the same rule, I've only seen a certain type of privileged, entitled parents complain about having to fold up their strollers. I know getting around a city with a toddler can feel like an acrobatic feat. I lived it! And you know what? Then my kid got older and life went on.
So okay, let's get into it. Let's talk about why this post just makes my nostrils flare. First of all, I actually think the folded stroller rule makes life easier and safer for most of the people who ride the bus. It's a sensible rule. And it is NOT what keeps people from using public transportation. To imply as much is insulting to those of us (majority of ridership) who have no choice. I don't own a car! Would it be nice to have some sort of stroller parking on the bus? Sure -- but even better would be if the freakin' buses ran on time! And if the city would stop cutting crucial bus lines that people rely on. In my mind, unfolded stroller accommodation is pie-in-the-sky. We're lucky there's wheelchair accommodation.
If you're a real environmentalist, and you want to ride the bus with your toddler, you just make it work -- for you AND FOR EVERYONE ELSE! And this is the part that drives me crazy. I know that our society makes parenting unnecessarily difficult sometimes -- take our inadequate parental leave policies. But if you want the non-parenting public to respect your decision to have children, if you want people to give you a break every once in a while if your kid cries in public, if you want everyone to get on board with family-friendly policy -- then you need to act like a sensible person.
That means, act as if you recognize that you and your little darlin' are not the center of the universe. Sometimes you have to cramp your style a bit to help make your city a peaceable kingdom. Sometimes you need to use a lightweight umbrella stroller, take a few seconds to fold it BEFORE the bus arrives, and maybe not bring so much crap around with you all the time. (Ask me how -- I turned minimalist parenting into an art.) Because the wheels on the bus do NOT go round and round just for you.
Do you use public transportation with your toddler?
Image via Graham and Sheila/Flickr