Most of us walk by ourselves on two feet, and don’t think much about doing so. But if you travel around a city pushing a pram, there are challenges to face.
There are tree roots creating bumps in pavements. There are large changes in height when getting on and off certain buses and trains. There are kerbs without kerb ramps (kerb cuts) down to the road surface. There are pedestrian crossings where the green man stops after only a few seconds, causing you to rush across. And there are small pedestrian islands which can’t fit two adults and two prams safely.
On trains, life gets quite stressful when you are a parent trying to reverse a pram off a carriage safely, especially when also holding the hand of a toddler. A wide train door, and a small gap (with no height difference) between train and platform are all hugely helpful.
It’s not all bad news. Progress has been made, but far more is needed, at a faster rate. So far, in Sydney, the improvements have ranged from kneeling buses to mandatory accessibility of train stations, from kerb ramps to wide doors for shopping centre parents rooms. Upgrading trains and buses, revamping facilities and pavements, introducing and requiring new standards all need to be a constant project for authorities and governments.
Every time a council makes an improvement in accessibility, it’s not just those pushing prams who gain: people in wheelchairs or mobility scooters or with walking frames or wheeling a bicycle benefit too. An accessible city is one where people are not discriminated against, and get out to engage with their community. This has significant benefits to mental health.
The bottom line is that Sydneysiders benefit when people with prams are catered for, in terms of access, safety, confidence and comfort.