On Riding The Tube With A Stroller

For those who have not traveled via The Underground (the subway beneath Greater London), I should say that getting a stroller down to the trains & back up again can be a trial. (Hell, GENERALLY getting around London with kids can be a trial. But so worth it!) Stations reflect many different ideas/eras of design, and only recently began to offer disabled access– and most still do not. Almost all the subway cars offer a place for those with a stroller/the elderly– usually in a small section by the middle doors originally meant for luggage, but now with flip-up seats. Getting your stroller into that spot may require the use of “lifts” (elevators), stairs, and (probably) very long escalators. All the escalators are marked with signage informing users to “Stand On The Right / Walk On The Left,” which is good. Mostly, we travel as a family, and Lana and I can divide the children amongst ourselves. On the few occasions when the girls and I travel by ourselves (like when we go to meet Lana for lunch at least once a week), I use our smaller umbrella stroller, and have Finley stand immediately in front of me on the escalators, between the push-bars (this Finley-in-the-middle plan was created following a teary Finley getting left at the top of an escalator series; she was helped aboard by a kindly British lady of long years & longer legs). This works well for escalators (and lifts aren’t really a problem unless they are broken), but stairs can present a challenge. I have to carry the stroller. Have to. Can do it with one arm, but can’t carry Finley with the other (at least, not very far). And the tunnels are circular, so the sides (where you walk) are too short for her to ride on my shoulders. So Finley (with long legs for a three-year-old, but three-year-old legs, regardless) has to move under her own power. And, generally, she has to FOLLOW me on the stairs, as otherwise she ends up turning around about half-way down any given flight of steps to comment on someone’s shoes, or to say she has to rest, quote a fragment of poetry, admire her fingernails, etc. which TOTALLY stops up the works. So she follows behind, and I get to the bottom, place the stroller out of the main flow of traffic (with wheels locked), and attempt to motivate her to finish the (usually) short journey. It should be noted that people MOVE OUT in the Underground, and do not take kindly to being detained by an idiot from an upstart colony, swinging a child strapped to a metal frame from side-to-side across the steps descending through the 13 foot diameter tunnel that EVERYONE is trying to move through in BOTH directions while he shouts “C’mon, Finley, you can do it! Just four more steps! Don’t step in front of the man, honey! Stay to the right, remember?! C’mon!” So, steps can be trying. But she is game. And, hey– I haven’t lost her yet. Once you get to the platform & on to the subway itself, the only remaining obstacle is the attitude of some of your fellow travelers. Most people are fine with the stroller being left unfolded, especially if they can see that your child is asleep, you haven’t hit anyone with it on your way in, and it isn’t rush hour (all bets are off during rush hour, and you should avoid the Tube with a stroller FOR SURE.) The problem passengers, on the whole, seem to be people older than child-bearing age– old enough that their kids probably have kids. I think this is the problem– jealousy. Strollers are a generational add to the Tube (wheelchair spaces themselves are only about +17 years old– see the comments here!), and my guess is that these haters believe that if THEY had to struggle through the streets, parents TODAY should have to, as well. Don’t let them stop you, though. For everyone of them, there are four or five folks who will silently wait to see if you require help getting on or off the train, and ten people who will interact with/comment on your baby (assuming it is not acting the fool and/or screaming bloody murder).


Filed under In England

2 responses to “On Riding The Tube With A Stroller

  1. Pingback: One from Lana . . . | dalleyfamily

  2. Pingback: Yes, Paris Is Incredible. The Kids Have Confirmed It. …Part Two. | dalleyfamily

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