Pregnant women and new moms who use the CTA face bigger challenges using public transit than just about any passengers - perhaps more even than wheelchair-bound riders.
First, pregnant women face rude CTA passengers who won't do the decent thing and give up their seat. In its recent courtesy campaign, the CTA included a humorous photo but one that hit home - a guy with his eyes glued to his phone while an obviously pregnant woman sticks her belly in his face.
It might be more funny if it wasn't a true depiction about what pregnant women face on public transit.
Last week, the Daily Beast published a lament from a very pregnant New York woman: "Give a Pregnant Lady a Seat, You A-Holes."
From her account of commuting around New York:
At 39 weeks pregnant—that means for practical purposes that I am at all times carrying a full term baby with just my pelvis—my belly cannot be ignored. And yet it seems to have magical, hypnotic powers. Upon sight, those lucky seated become oh-so-sleepy, or entranced by screens. Once through those turnstiles, I become invisible, watermelon fetus and all.
I take the subway at least twice a day, five days a week, and can count on my hands the number of times I’ve been offered a seat during my third trimester. What the hell is going on, New York? Why do so few people offer a seat to a pregnant woman?
Why indeed? Get with it riders!
From the good news/bad news department: Pregnant women eventually will deliver that "watermelon fetus," but then they will face the ire of bus drivers and passengers alike for bringing strollers on board buses.
Now, I happen to think that the CTA stroller policy is fairly reasonable. But some riders and bus operators alike go too far in "enforcing" the policy on half-empty buses.
I got this email from a new mom last week:
I am a new mother to a two month old boy. As a former single passenger I understand the frustrations of strollers since there is only so much space to sit. However, I also know that I have witnessed many passengers receiving awful treatment and even made to feel guilty for even thinking of getting on the bus simply because that person has a stroller.
Now I know there are carriers for infants and toddlers. But the retail price for most can be costly and as most mothers have lamented, it's a lot to pay for and some cannot afford the luxury of a carrier. Many friends of mine have hand me down strollers or ones that were donated because a stroller is expensive also.
The point I would like to make is how can the CTA solve the social issues of allowing infants to ride safely without the driver penalizing (or in my instance today, screaming at me because I did not close my stroller fast enough) parents for using mass transit that is made for everyone?
Today the same driver I mentioned screamed at me, used profanity, and called me names. I agreed to close up my stroller. But I did not agree to take my two month old out of his car seat (attaches to the stroller for infants). The idea of my infant laying on the seat with the bus moving is a pretty scary idea. Not to mention a driver who berated me and threatened to have me arrested. Why? Because I am going by Illinois State Law and keeping my infant safe? I'm sorry but I'm not willing to risk any child's life for the sake of making a point with the CTA.
There are always two sides to every story. Let's all be a little more reasonable - and courteous - when riding the CTA.
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