Let's be a little more courteous to pregnant women, new moms on CTA

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.

This one really angers me. If I'm not sitting and see a pregnant woman standing, I will ask other men to move for her.

This one really angers me. If I’m not sitting and see a pregnant woman standing, I will ask other men to move for her.

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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  • Fold up that SUV sized stroller or take a cab!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Gee Scooter, now how did I know you would be the first to comment?

    The point is that often times (when it's not crowded) women are not required to fold up their strollers by policy. And yet they still get yelled at by drivers and angry stares (and anonymous comments) from riders.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    Someone posted on chitransit.org about a week ago an article about, essentially, that transit's problem in the U.S. is that it has become a welfare program. If your response doesn't prove it, the mommy complaining that she can't afford a carrier does.

    Maybe your employer can shove through an ordinance that all forms of transportation must include provisions for a double wide, since there seems to be an epidemic of those. However, his boss would complain if that included Uber.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    What kind of asinine insult is that? Just because I was the first one to see that you finally had a new post? It's been what, two weeks since you posted anything?

    As I've said before, charge $5 for the stroller to board & the problem will be solved!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Not an insult at all Scooter. Merely an observation. Thicken up your skin a bit. You can dish it out but can't take it?

    And thanks for noticing my posting habits. Last post was five days ago, and 10 days before that.

    Strollers by policy are allowed on non-crowded trains and buses. You should testify before the CTA board about your new stroller fare idea and see how far that gets you.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    It was an insult to say that you knew that I was the first to comment! It was also the first time I had even looked at the site for a couple of days, so it was just luck that I was first!
    It seems your the one who can't take it, as you had to attack me for commenting! That was anything but an observation from you!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Again Scooter, I hardly think my comment rises to the level of an "attack" on you. But if that's your perception, I am sorry.

    In the future, you should consider signing up for email alerts about new posts and then you'll know for sure when I have fresh content. Look at the end of the post here for easy signup.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    " You should testify before the CTA board ...."

    Has that had any effect on CTA policy, at least in the last 10 years? The few times that CTA has posted minutes, it only listed the speakers, not what they said, compared to the Pace minutes, which reflect the substance of the comments and sometimes that the Board had a reaction to them, or Pace staff replying to written comments (I have received several such responses by e-mail, and they were responsive). I harken back to Terry Peterson lying about listening at a public hearing.

  • In reply to jack:

    Interestingly Jack, just about 10 years to the day (Aug. 18, 2005), I testified at a CTA board meeting about CTA Alerts, my brother Dan's project to send crowd-sourced text alerts about CTA delays, etc. They agreed to participate in a test. That led to them sending their own alerts and eventually to their great Twitter feed.

    But yes, it was 10 year ago.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    CTA has been more responsive and innovative with regard to Internet technology. However, I challenge anyone to provide an instance relating to the actual furnishing of transportation.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    They get yelled at by the drivers because if someone trips over the open stroller and falls the bus driver will be charged with a safety violation,one of the worst things to be charged with as a CTA employee ,2 safety violations in 2 years and your career at CTA is over.

  • In reply to Kevin O’Neil:

    The policy is that you always have to fold the stroller no matter if the bus is empty or full.

  • Just a reminder, it's not just new moms that are carrying babies on public transit, it's new dads as well. I bus commute every morning, but I don't use a stroller. I'm always wearing or holding my daughter, so it is much appreciated when someone gives up their seat instead of me trying to hold on to the kid, hold on to the bus, hold on to my bag, and try and stay out of everyone's way.

  • In reply to NextStop:

    Don't you have one of the chest packs for the baby, and a backpack for the stuff in your bag? You said you were wearing your daughter.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yes, but try wearing a 20 pound human on your chest and then a backpack on your back on a crowded bus. Believe me, it's a lot easier for everyone if you let me sit down.

  • The reason why people are irate about those HUGE strollers is that the bus drivers do not enforce the rules!!! Mom/Dad/Parents get on a crowded bus, but do not fold up the stroller. Then they guilt-trip people who are sitting in the wheelchair seats to get up, so they can park it there. You know you're getting on the bus, so the stroller should already be folded up before the bus arrives and you can board quickly.

    If people are going to ignore a woman obviously pregnant, then its up to her to just straight out ask a person if she can have their seat. Will he/she say no after Mom-To-Be asks them?

  • Bravo for reminding riders to be kind to pregnant women. Not only are they in pain a good bit of the time, but there's always a risk of injury to the fetus if the vehicle stopped suddenly and the mother was thrown against a pole, seat, or fell to the floor. We all came out of our mother's womb. Would you have wanted your mother to have a seat when she was carrying you? Ditto for mother's with babies and children.
    Regarding the stroller issue, I've had to get up a move many times so a wheelchair-bound passenger could be strapped into a special spot. If we can extend them the courtesy of special attention on a public conveyance, why not mothers with strollers? If you tell mothers to take a cab, why not force the wheelchair users to do the same. It slows everyone down when we have to wait for them to ride up the ramp, be strapped into place, then released at the end of their ride, and the ramp replaced. On the other hand, it would be nice if parents used the kind of "umbrella" stroller I used 20+ years ago for my son. It folded up into a fairly compact package that didn't inconvenience others too much. At $20, I think everyone could afford one for riding on public transit. Some consideration on both sides would go a long way, but safety should always take priority. And no CTA employee should ever be allowed to curse a passenger for anything.

  • In reply to Anna Mus:

    When my mother carried me, there were 53 seats in a standard bus, not 36.

  • In reply to Anna Mus:

    The other thing I should mention is that about 7 years later she was not real happy when we were on a bus stuck at a railroad crossing, and I would say "choo choo."

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