Strollers Push Wheelchairs to the Curb?!?

by Kimberley on July 7, 2010 · 11 comments

Did anyone else catch the article on the front page of the Saanich News today about how strollers and parents are selfishly taking up space on BC Transit buses thereby causing disabled people to have to wait for the next bus?

I was shocked and dismayed by the article as I think it needlessly pitted two groups of people against one another and never actually addressed the real issue which is that there is not enough availability of accessible, priority seating on popular, high volume bus routes.

I thought I would bring it to the attention of other parents out there as I feel strongly that the Saanich News and BC Transit deserve feedback regarding this article. I already blogged on my personal blog about my feelings and I intend to send an abridged version of my blog to both BC Transit and the paper.

Do you think the article fairly depicted this situation? I would love to hear your thoughts.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Tia July 8, 2010 at 3:03 pm

As a mom who relies on transit (and really has had a lot of negative experiences), I say that it is usually wheelchair bound customers who get the right of way so to speak on the bus. I have been told to wait, unless I could fold the stroller and hold the kid. That happened TWICE when he was sleeping. Nobody helps you get on the bus and buckles you in in a stroller either. I find that the attitude towards your stroller of a person in a wheelchair is often that they are more deserving and it is so expected that you fold up the stroller (“I can’t fold up my chair, I can’t even walk” was a favourite comment from a wheelchair bound passenger). I did like the guy in the wheelchair who awkwardly folded his chair so I could squeeze sleeping boy next to it in that tiny double decker handicapped spot and clipped on his prothestetic leg back on and stood up the whole way!

Tia July 8, 2010 at 3:09 pm

An add to the previous rant type comment. I live in a small, poorly served by transit area of the island. We get the community buses out here. The drivers will tell you time and again, standing outside with a child (easier now that mine can wait on the bus for me) or baby in a stroller that they can’t get off the bus to help you. That transit states that they are not to do so as it may endanger the other riders (whatever). BUT these drivers CAN and DO get up, off the bus entirely to help someone load up a wheelchair with the lift. They cannot help you carry a stroller on the bus while your toddler sleeps in your arms. NO, they will tell you that they cannot help. It sure looks hard, they will say and look at the other passengers. Those passengers are not often going to help.

Kimberley July 8, 2010 at 8:13 pm

I think that is shameful. People helping each other out should be an expectation not an exception!

Angie July 9, 2010 at 12:36 am

I have to say if you have a basic umbrella stroller and can fold it up with easy then okay go for it, but lots of mom’s have the bigger strollers that they use to be able to go out shopping and such with there babes. Isn’t handy dart also an option for people in wheel chairs? What secondary options do mom’s have? The situation frustrates me because I am going to be giving birth any day now and I also have Multiple Sclerosis. The type of MS I have does not leave me in a wheel chair but I do need the larger strollers so I can get around and do my shopping and such as I am unable to drive myself and can not afford a taxi everywhere. Just feels like I will need to have some proof that I am mom with an disability to be able to not be razzed about having my stroller up front. I guess the bottom line is I feel, as a soon to be mom with a stroller , if you can fold it up then so be it, if not try your best to make room and lets all try to remember we are all in the same frustrating situation…we all want to get where we are going and some days we are going to have to wait for room and others someone in a wheel chair might. So, here’s hoping that today is a situation free day on the bus for you and if you do have issues that at least some compassion and politeness towards each others situation comes your way.
Going to be a mom any day now with non wheel chair form of Multiple Sclerosis.

Kimberley July 9, 2010 at 7:46 am

I love your comment Angie. You are 100% right that we don’t know the situation of a mother with a stroller, she may have a disability a well.

I love your thoughts that if you can move, then move and everyone should try their best to make room for everyone else.

I know, as an able bodied person w/ a stroller I would likely give up my spot on the bus for a person in a wheelchair if it were at all possible.

Ashley July 9, 2010 at 8:26 pm

This is why I hate bringing my stroller on the bus. I feel like everyone is annoyed at me taking up space. But often I have no choice as I don’t drive. I do baby-wear most of the time, but if I’m going to be out all day and carrying a lot of stuff, there is just no way I can carry a toddler too. And my stroller doesn’t fold down… it barely fits in the trunk of a car… I got a BIG stroller knowing that it was just for walks and the occasional bus trip.

I do feel for people in wheelchairs, but sometimes they just have to wait for the next bus like the rest of us. Very often I will give priority to a wheelchair… letting them get on first to makes sure there is space for both of us. But if I’m already on the bus, on my way somewhere or on my way home with a cranky kid, I’m not likely to get off the bus either.

And sure, disabled people need access to transit so they can get out more for their mental health. But it is the same for moms… I’ve struggled with PPD and I know what it is like to feel like I’m stuck at home with a crying baby all day. Moms need transit access just as much.

In general though, I think our buses here are great. ALL of them are accessible for wheel-chairs and strollers and MOST of them have more than one spot each… some can fit up to 4. In Vancouver that is not the case at all and many are still trolley buses with stairs and aren’t accessible at all.

I could also rant though about the general public being very inconsiderate a lot of the time. I rode the bus 5 days a week while pregnant and I think in 9 months there was only ONE time where someone got up to give me a seat and by that time I was VERY pregnant and cranky, lol. There were MANY times where I stood the whole way downtown or back to Gordon Head while able young people filled all the priority seats.

We really all need to learn to get along, to be patient and to put other’s first as much as possible.

Sarah July 10, 2010 at 10:26 am

I have been told by a bus driver (female, I might add), to fold up my stroller before getting on the bus. When I got on the bus, finally with my little one who was not quite walking yet, I found a bus that was mostly empty! i could understand if space was at a premium, but there was plenty of space both in regular seating and priority seating. It made me a bit grumpy that she would insist I do that considering the situation. I have no problem folding up my stroller if someone in a w.c wants to get on and would defer to someone who is in a w.c if only one spot left.

Back to your question, I agree with your point of view and would like to hear if they run any thing else on the topic.

KellyP July 12, 2010 at 12:48 am

I was talking to my hubby about this today and he is so not PC. His comment, which I think I agree with, is that it should be first come first served. If you are a mum who can’t collapse her stroller (perhaps you have a young baby in a bucket seat, a big stroller, your own limited mobility or just realize it is a huge hassle to collapse that stoller given the little help you’ll get and how fast that bus is going to start moving) and you are on the bus first, you shouldn’t have to give up your seat or be refused served. Your tax dollars pay for part of the bus service and you also pay when you ride the bus. You have a right to use it!

Kimberley July 12, 2010 at 9:21 am

I think your hubby has a point. I guess if any of us are riding at peek times we need to expect that sometimes we may be left behind to wait for the next bus.

Kimberley July 12, 2010 at 10:13 am

I would have been pissed in that situation as well Sarah. Why would you need to fold the stroller on an almost empty bus? Ridiculous.

Kimberley July 12, 2010 at 10:19 am

I think you hit the nail on the head Ashley, we all need to just look around us, assess the situation and make a fair decision. And you are right that our buses are way better than the ones in Vancouver or many other towns. We actually live in a very accessible city.

With regards to people (especially young folk) not allowing a pregnant woman to sit down, I think that is shameful. I had the worst experience once in the Montreal airport when i was pregnant with my 2nd. Air Canada messed up and we had to wait for our baggage for 2 hours. There is minimal seating in the Montreal airport baggage claim and at 7 months pregnant with a screaming 2yo in my arms, people just watched as I sat on a cold cement floor. No one offered me a seat. I was so blow away with how unkind people can be. I try to teach my children that being a kind & compassionate person is one of the most important traits a person can have. No matter what you accomplish in life I strongly feel that if you can look back and know you were a good & kind person than you can feel proud.

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