Meet The Mom Who Wants Her Stroller Treated Like A Wheelchair On Public Buses
If you’ve ever taken a folded stroller on a bus, you know how difficult it can be to fit the thing through the door frame, and then try to find a seat without hitting anyone. If the rules allow for it and there’s space on the bus, being able to keep your child seated in their stroller on a bus is a huge help, but it’s not your right as a parent. A mother in Chicago disagrees. Michelle Parker has started an online petition in hopes of earning children in strollers the same rights on buses as disabled individuals in wheelchairs so she never has to fold her stroller again.
Federal law requires that public transit have designated priority seating for seniors and individuals with disabilities. According to redeyechicago.com, Chicago Transit Authority(CTA) spokesperson Catherine Hosinski said that under the current CTA policy, children may remain in their strollers if the stroller is in the priority seating area, but there is a hierarchy: those with wheelchairs or scooters get first priority, followed by riders with other physical disabilities not in mobility devices, then the elderly, then expectant mothers and riders with children in strollers, and then everyone else.
CTA often hears complainants both for and against strollers on public transit during the public commentary portion of their meetings. In 2012 they attempted to deal with the issue by launching a successful campaign that requested stroller users to opt for smaller strollers and to fold strollers when the buses were crowded. The current policy is their best attempt at pleasing everyone.
For Parker, this policy isn’t good enough for her and her children. Parker has started an online petition asking for children in strollers to be treated the same as individuals in wheelchairs while riding the bus. So for example, if Parker and her snowflakes happen to board the bus a stop before an amputee in a wheelchair, she doesn’t want to be inconvenienced by having to fold her stroller when that individual wants to board the bus. Parker’s petition claims that changing the current policy is necessary for safety because:
… [T]he current practice asks the caregiver to find a place to stow the stroller and hold the child and their belongings on their lap. The stroller – a large, clumsy object – is likely unsecured and the caregiver is likely overburdened with personal items and a small child. One can assume having the stroller, child and belongings secure during a ride would be much safer for all riders.
Parker’s petition also claims that taking a child out of the stroller and putting them back in when they reach their destination slows down the bus, so she wants drivers to be instructed to lower the bus whenever asked for strollers to get on and off more easily. She does not address how long it takes her to place her child in and out of the stroller compared to the amount of time it takes for the driver to lower and raise the bus when she both boards and leaves.
Parker further asks that CTA’s current signage and recordings, which state that open strollers are unsafe, be changed to ask riders to accommodate strollers, because she feels like she has been subjected to hostility from both CTA employees and fellow passengers because she doesn’t want to fold her stroller and wants the bus lowered for her to get the stroller on and off.
Parker told redeyechicago.com in regards to her petition: “I think at the end of the day, it’s recognition that for very young children … strollers are their wheelchairs.”
Trying to keep a small child from squirming out of your arms while you attempt to hang on to a diaper bag and stroller handle is difficult, but to say that being a parent of a stroller-aged child should afford you equal rights as an individual who needs a wheelchair for a disability is amazingly self-centered. Whether it’s by car, bus, train or plane, transporting young children is just one of the difficult things about having small kids. The current CTA accommodations are extremely generous, and it’s never too early to start teaching small children that the world won’t always make things easy for them.
As of 1:15 pm E.S.T., Parker’s petition has 335 supporters.