Admission: I owned a Bugaboo stroller. But, after much field-research, we decided it was the only stroller that could handle the cobblestones of downtown Brussels. Further admission: My son was done with the stroller at just under 2 and we have been wheels-free for almost 2 years.
I am unable to hide my revulsion toward fellow Torontonian Elsa La Rosa who took a ‘too many strollers’ complaint to the Toronto Transit Commission. La Rosa is asking Toronto to impose a 2 dollar additional payment to a parent’s ride if they dare to consider bringing their child in a pushchair. La Rosa’s request met with immediate decline from TTC’s CEO, who has made it clear that there is no plan for charging an additional amount for strollers. La Rosa, wasn’t done with her suggestions for improving her ride on the TTC, and suggested limiting the number of strollers permitted on the TTC. This apparently is something that the TTC is willing to look into.
Who hasn’t ridden a public transit vehicle where a customer needs a seat that you are occupying? Sure, it might be 7 am, and you might be at the start of an hour long journey. But, are you so inconvenienced by the proposition to stand for next 15 minutes until the bus, train or subway empties out a little bit? Is Elsa La Rosa so bothered by a stroller in rush hour that she feels the need to marginalize, isolate and financially punish people who have children with them?
Sure, it is often just easier to carry a baby in a baby-carrier if you dare to brave the public transit of a busy city, but that doesn’t mean that multitudes of people don’t need to use their strollers, or shock, WANT to use their strollers.
On both Twitter and Facebook you can find people who are supporting this anti-stroller angle of public transit planning. Ban them all together people are saying. Take up the brave fight of cities like Kingston, Ontario where there is a zero stroller rule in effect.
Sadly, this is not just a symptom of some ignorant asshole who is so self-important that she is unable to look beyond her circumstances; anti-stroller rhetoric is a part of a larger conversation about the inconveniences of babies, parents and pregnant bodies. Keep kids out of restaurants, get parents off airplanes, and be sure to fire women who are pregnant and need a pee. As we shuffle these people, bodies and conversations out of the public eye we are creating an entire and separate world where people are isolated, vulnerable and marginalized.
When people join in the collectively annoyed gaze directed at a mom who is trying to maneuver her stroller and baby onto a heaving street car, when we nudge elbows and nod knowingly in annoyance at the dad of a screaming baby on a transatlantic flight, or when we huff and puff with colleagues when a fellow teacher/nurse/engineer/bus driver needs a special room to breast feed - we are all not making ourselves available to help these PEOPLE. We aren’t asking the mom is she needs some help getting the stroller up the ill designed lip of the street car, we aren’t seeing if the dad needs a glass of water or a hand with changing the baby on a moving airplane, and we aren’t giving the mom a high-five for pumping her boobs while working full time and taking care of a baby that needs nourishment.
What is wrong with us that we are collectively opting to be mean assholes instead of just helping someone. Instead, we would rather see people struggle, be pushed deeper into suburban ghettos, or become so overwhelmed that they are victims of depression, anxiety or stress related disease. May Ms La Rosa never experience poverty, disability, illness or parenthood because there are lots of people like her waiting to tell her how annoying she has become.
Yah, don’t bother getting out of your seat. Make sure you are comfortable. Good job society.