If we want to prevent young families from fleeing DC once they have kids, and to avoid designing our transit around the needs of men, then following most European and Canadian cities by allowing unfolded strollers on the bus (and soon, the trolleys) seems obvious.  To do otherwise is to effectively ban parents with infants and toddlers from the bus system.

The Circulator drivers have allowed unfolded strollers onto the bus since service began. Unlike Metrobuses, Circulators have large middle doors and folding-chair bays that make it possible to fit unfolded strollers on the bus.

Sometime in the past couple weeks the Circulator folks changed their minds, and told the drivers to require strollers to be folded.  We learned that on Monday, in 30-degree weather, when a driver told us we would have to get off the bus unless we folded our stroller. 

I called the Circulator office and an employee confirmed the change, saying “It should have been that way from the beginning,” and that the reason is, inexplicably, “the safety of the child.”  Actually, it’s clearly safer to have the child strapped into a stroller with locked wheels than it is to hold the baby in your arms while also holding the folded stroller.

By contrast, most European and Canadian cities either have dedicated stroller bays, as in the Czech Republic, or give unfolded strollers priority, after wheelchairs, in seatless, special needs bays of the bus, as in British Columbia

In the Czech Republic, parents of children in strollers ride for free.  My family was in Prague last March.  The photo above shows me and my son Martin (5 months at the time) on a trolley in Prague.  Our trolleys come from the Czech as well. Do they include such a bay in the rear as well?  I’m not holding my breath.

What do you think of Circulator’s new ban on unfolded strollers?  Let them know.

Ken Archer is CTO of a software firm in Tysons Corner. He commutes to Tysons by bus from his home in Georgetown, where he lives with his wife and son.  Ken completed a Masters degree in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America.