A bumpy ride awaits Transit stroller policy – ​​Winnipeg Free Press

Opinion

Strollers versus mobility aids have long been a problem on Winnipeg Transit buses, with the two often having to compete for space in the few priority seats in the front of the vehicle.

A new policy, due to roll out in October, aims to ensure that priority seating is reserved for people with disabilities, so people who need mobility aids – especially those who use wheelchairs – are not not left on the sidewalk because the bus is too full to accommodate them. This shameful practice is an ongoing problem and disability advocates have long called for a solution.

Part of Winnipeg Transit’s solution states that strollers “must be able to be folded and stored.” The accompanying graphic shows a figure holding a baby, with the stroller stowed neatly behind them – a rendering that leads one to conclude that its designer has never taken, or perhaps even seen, a Winnipeg Transit bus.

Who’s holding the baby – and the diaper bag, and the bag of groceries or whatever the parent may have picked up on their trip – while the parent is trying to fold a stroller onto a moving bus? What if the bus is crowded? Where, exactly, are these strollers stored?

Who’s holding the baby – and the diaper bag, and the bag of groceries or whatever the parent may have picked up on their trip – while the parent is trying to fold a stroller onto a moving bus? What if the bus is crowded? Where, exactly, are these strollers stored?

What if you are traveling with more than one child? Will the bus wait for parents to settle in, effectively erasing rush hour schedules? And what happens when it’s time to get off the bus?

Collapsible, or “umbrella” strollers are not safe (or even recommended) for children under six months of age. Babies are safer strapped to the stroller on a moving bus. Parents themselves can be disabled, which prevents them from carrying their baby in a sling or carrier. The children themselves may also be disabled or have mobility issues – or are simply too young to walk or hold their own heads – requiring the use of a stroller.

Low-income families might not be able to buy a new stroller, the average cost of which is $100 to $300, or even have a say in what stroller they currently own.

There is no doubt that the status quo does not work, nor is there any question that people with disabilities face disproportionate barriers to public transport – and, for that matter, to many other areas of life. society. Winnipeg Transit’s proposed policy is well-intentioned, but it ends up pitting people with disabilities against parents (especially mothers), a scenario in which everyone loses, especially parents who are also disabled.

Transit is just that, public. People with disabilities live in society. Children and parents too. Everyone should be able to access safe and affordable transportation. And yet the two groups – which, again, are sometimes overlapping camps – seem to be met with hostility when it comes to moving.

Transit is just that, public. People with disabilities live in society. Children and parents too. Everyone should be able to access safe and affordable transport. And yet the two groups – which, again, are sometimes overlapping camps – seem to be met with hostility when it comes to moving.

A policy that has a low probability of compliance and enforcement is little more than an attempt at a cheap solution to a systemic problem whose solution(s) requires real resources. One option is to run more buses more frequently, which would mean that a parent with, say, a double stroller could choose to hop on the next one, instead of possibly being stuck for 25 minutes or more.

More buses more frequently would mean less crowding, providing a safer and more enjoyable ride for everyone.

Bus design changes, so that more seats can be raised or lowered to accommodate passengers with varying accessibility needs, could also be explored. The side seats near the rear door, for example, could be raised to accommodate pushchairs.

Real problems require real solutions. Until Winnipeg Transit addresses this issue in a meaningful way, it will be a bumpy ride.

About Kevin Strickland

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