It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Get offa the road!

I have pushed all manner of strollers in my life. Single, double, triple and quads. All-in-a-line, nested one-up/one-down, and side-by-side. Under $20 cheapo umbrella strollers from Zellers, and over-thousand-dollar conspicuous consumption luxury models.

I like some better than others. I prefer all-in-a-line and one-up/one-down over side-by-side. Side-by-side doubles are much harder to manoeuvre, to get started, and to push once you’re going. I prefer the ones with three wheels, two large in behind and a smaller up front. Again, much easier to manoeuvre.

But though I have my preferences, a stroller’s a stroller. I don’t care whether they have plush seating, cup-holders, extra-large basket, super-duper suspension. They can be bright or bland, trendy or classic. So long as they hold the child safely and get us where we’re going, I don’t much care. I will grouse, quite a bit, if I’m somehow stuck pushing two children in an extra-wide, heavy-as-lead, side-by-side double with those two stupid wobbly wheels up front. But if you have one and love it, well, more power to you! It’s none of my concern what kind of stroller you push.


with one exception.

There is one kind of stroller that truly annoys me: the double-wide stroller whose primary purpose is a bike trailer, converted to sidewalk use.

I really hate seeing one of these bearing down on me on a crowded city sidewalk. I really do. Now, if there are two children in there, I can cede the necessity. I would argue that an in-line or one-up/one-down model is more considerate in the city, but for two children, I’ll cede you your sidewalk-hogger. And you know what? I figure that’s pretty gracious of me, given that your two kids are taking up more space than my four.

But when there is ONE kid in there? Annoys the crap out of me.

One kid, surrounded by his or her cup, and snack, and books, change of clothes, a few toys. One teeny rajah, master of all he surveys, taking in the vistas before in luxury and leisure, a cool drink at his fingertips. And the rest of us dodge and weave, making room for the double-wide with its Precious Cargo.

It’s just inconsiderate. Really.

Not always, but often, these kids are BIG. Three years old, four years, even older sometimes, perfectly capable of walking wherever they need to go. Perfectly capable of wearing a small backpack with their necessities, if they really are such, inside.

This is not a neighbourhood where a family will only have one stroller, and so if they need one that can be towed behind a bike, it must do double-duty on the sidewalk. These families often have three or more strollers. For their one child. Who, a good percentage of the time, should be walking anyway.

Why is it that one child should take up double the width (the dimension that most matters on a sidewalk) than my four? And why should I be the one dodging?

Outrageous, is it. Bah, humbug.

August 24, 2011 - Posted by | aggression, daycare, manners, outings, Peeve me | , , , ,


  1. I thought I was the only one that hated those stupid things being used as really posh rickshaws for kids. Frankly, even when used as a bike trailer they kind of annoy me. And frighten me a little bit, too – doesn’t anyone else notice that the child’s head is now level with the bumpers of every vehicle on the road? In our city, which is NOT bike-friendly at all (very few bike lanes, and many drivers still park in them), seeing one of those massive trailers weaving in and out of traffic makes me, as a driver, very nervous.

    I hadn’t considered that, no. Huh. Ottawa’s not doing too badly regarding bikes. There are a fair number of bike trails and the odd bike lane downtown, but we could do better. Probably because I rarely drive, I don’t know that I’ve ever contended with a bike trailer while behind the wheel.

    Anyway! I see a lot of obviously very fit and active moms putting much older kids in strollers so that they themselves don’t have to slow down and look at every little bug, cigarette butt, leaf, and sidewalk crack. The irony of that always strikes me. I mean, the mom wants to get in her exercise (and power to her, it’s important!) but at the same time she is not allowing her child to experience first-hand the benefits & joys of a good long walk.

    I know! We learn these good habits through modelling (which those mothers are doing) and experience (which they are denying their kids). Ironic, indeed.

    Comment by hodgepodge | August 24, 2011 | Reply

  2. When we moved from a different province to this one we definitely noticed that the average age of a chld in a stroller increased dramatically. My kids didn’t have much use for a stroller after about 18 months because they wanted to be out and exploring, but most kids were definitely out by about age 2. Here, though? I’ve never seen so many 4-year-olds in strollers. It boggles my mind, and I think in most cases it’s more about convenience for the parents rather than safety or comfort for the kids. The perceived regional differences seem odd to me, though.

    That’s interesting! I’m assuming the second province is Ontario. What was the first?

    I think it’s twofold here: parents feel too hurried to let their children walk, and, because so many other parents are doing it, it looks normal (instead of ridiculous) to have a three- or four-year-old in a stroller. (Are they really so hurried? Often, I think the answer is ‘yes’, but I also believe that much of the time that, too, is a cultural norm: we allow ourselves to become that busy because everyone else is doing it. I suspect more parents could slow down than think they can.)

    My tots are rarely in a stroller after the age of two. Even when I take them on a 5-km walk (which is not unusual), I’ll have the two-year-olds take turns in one seat of the stroller. Three years and up? They walk. Stroller’s never an option.

    Comment by karyn | August 24, 2011 | Reply

    • We were in Manitoba before we moved to Ontario, so not that far geographically, but sometimes worlds away culturally!

      Comment by karyn | August 24, 2011 | Reply

  3. We live in a rural-ish area where we have to drive to everything except a couple subdivision playgrounds. Therefore my sons don’t ride in strollers once they can walk because we never have to walk far unless it is for exercise or amusement. We just went to Chicago for vacation and took our rarely used stroller for our 2 year old. What a pain to use it on the downtown streets! We alternated stroller/not stroller days. Man did we get some evil looks trying to navigate the rush hour sidewalks with a 6 year old weaving and wandering and a stroller. STRESSFUL. I can see why someone would put a 4 year old in a stroller in the city just to keep them contained and out of other people’s way. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    It could very well be that Chicago is a much more crowded and pushy city than Ottawa, but I’ve never had any trouble managing my 4-seater stroller with one or two children walking alongside. If we’re getting dirty looks, I’m oblivious. (Well, there are those weird people who frown at strollers, but I’m never sure exactly what they’re frowning at, and they’re by far the minority.) Mind you, the rule for my kids on busy streets is that you hang on to the stroller, even the five-and-a-half-year-old. We’re still taking up half the sidewalk, but no one’s “weaving and wandering”. On the rare occasions I have a single child, I often dispense with the stroller, but again, that child holds my hand at all times.

    Comment by Rayne of Terror | August 24, 2011 | Reply

  4. You’ve seen this blog, haven’t you?

    Ha! No, I have not! Thank you!

    Comment by Anita | August 24, 2011 | Reply

    • My only problem with that site is that some of the pictures look like they might be of kids with special needs. Since reading this, I have had difficulty enjoying Too Big For Stroller:

      Comment by IfByYes | August 24, 2011 | Reply

      • Thanks for saying that IfByYes…there is a chance to bring awareness to issues like this and for people to admit they might change their minds. Thank you, thank you.

        Comment by juliaroberts | August 26, 2011

    • Yeah, a site like that makes laughing at kids like mine a sport. It breed intolerance of differences seen and unseen.

      I hope the self professed childless 20-somethings who own that site never know the hurt of public judgment that comes along with having a child with differences.

      You’re absolutely right. You never know. Most children are healthy, and so our assumption is that every child we see is healthy… and that simply isn’t true. Thank you for the reminder, and I apologize if I’ve added to your hurt.

      Comment by juliaroberts | August 26, 2011 | Reply

  5. Doublewide strollers fill my husband with outraged fury, so I can only imagine his reaction to one of these…

    Comment by IfByYes | August 24, 2011 | Reply

  6. I think some of it can be attributed to First Child Syndrome. My first kid was in a stroller until maybe 4-5 (not exclusively, but still). My twins were weaned off asap so we could ride the bus more easily.

    Comment by Kay | August 24, 2011 | Reply

    • And by Kay I meant Kat!

      Comment by Kat | August 24, 2011 | Reply

  7. My 3 year old who wears 5T clothing still rides in a stroller (a Maclaren Umbrella stroller, so it’s compact) because he still takes an afternoon nap. And what time is this nap? Why, pick up time for my older child’s school? He weighs 19 kilos, so I’ll be darned if I’m carrying him.

    But, as I said, I use an umbrella stroller. We ride public transportation, and I am always annoyed by the parents who get on with their baby suburbans and those bicycle carriers are the worst.

    But, that too big for strollers website bugs me precisely because the criticizers don’t take the situation into account. I took the stroller to the amusement park because the 3 year old would need a nap. My 8 year old likes to snag a seat when she can, so there were probably times she was sitting in it (not being pushed, not allowed) and someone could have snapped a picture.

    Comment by Suzanne Lucas | August 25, 2011 | Reply

  8. I’ve always been adamant that once our kids were about 3, that they would be walking with us (or biking – we often take walks with them on their bike/tricycles). I did buy a stroller when my daughter was born that had a seat on the back where her brother could either sit or stand while she rode. I found it helpful if we were in busy market areas where I couldn’t really babywear (or at least I didn’t feel comfortable with it) but it allowed me to keep a hand on him and the stroller at the same time.

    Comment by Dani | August 25, 2011 | Reply

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