On my way to work this morning, crammed into a packed Northern Line train like sardines in a tin can, I was reminded (yet again) of one of my biggest pet peeves of living in London; the way that huge swathes of commuters refuse to stand up and give up their seat for pregnant women on the city’s over-crowded underground.
Despite clearly marked ‘priority’ seats located next to every train door, specifically designated for people who are disabled, pregnant or less able to stand, today, and far too often, these seats are hogged by what I can only describe as ‘inconsiderate selfish b*stards’, if you’ll pardon my French.
So engrossed are this group in their newspapers, books and electronic devices that they are simply incapable of looking up for one second in-between stops to see if there might be someone who may need a seat more than they do.
Picture the scene…
It’s 7:15am and a pregnant woman climbs onto a busy commuter train, as a carriage full of seated Londoners quickly cast their eyes down to avoid making eye contact with the baby carrier.
If she’s lucky, there might be a friendly face that acknowledges her, usually a young woman or knowing parent (rarely found in the priority seat themselves), who will stand up (usually half way down the carriage) to give up their seat for this pregnant lady.
She then has to struggle through a crowd of people to reach her seat. And that’s if some clueless person doesn’t take the chance to sit in it first (something which happens more often than you’d think).
Now, I can understand that commuters are a tired old bunch, seasoned by years of antisocial London living to avoid eye contact or conversation with strangers at any cost.
And I can even see why some people may be worried about giving up their seat for older passengers or people without an obvious disability for fear of offending them.
But in the case of pregnant women, the vast majority wear a widely recognised Baby on Board badge that clearly indicates their need for special consideration.
This badge, available free of charge from the TfL website (a great initiative in partnership with Not on the High Street) is not just worn as a sign of pride by expectant mothers. It is worn as a means of saying:
“Dear fellow commuters, I’m currently growing a tiny human inside me, which unfortunately is zapping all my energy, playing havoc with my body temperature and blood pressure while making me feel seriously nauseous. To top it off, I still have to go to work in this condition!
I know it was my decision to get pregnant in the first place, but I would be ever so grateful if you could make my day. All you need to do is stand up and give up your seat so I can get to work in one piece without being bashed and barged out the way when you’re exiting the train.”
So come on commuters. Let’s take it upon ourselves to be more aware and more considerate of our fellow commuters when on public transport. Think of your own mothers, wives, girlfriends, pregnant friends and colleagues, and whether you would give up your seat for them on a packed train or bus.
If the answer is, “Yes, of course”, then you know it’s the right thing to do.
When travelling on public transport, let’s look up more, and if we see a Baby on Board badge (or indeed anyone that might need a seat more than us), let’s never hesitate or wait to see if someone else will give up their seat.
Instead, let’s take action, earn some serious positive karma and stand up! #StandUpForPregnancy
As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, so please do share your stories, views and insights with the group via the comments section below.
And if, like me, you feel passionately about this subject and the need for commuters to be more considerate of their fellow passengers, I hope you will join the campaign by tweeting your support using the hashtag #StandUpForPregnancy.
(Image source: http://now-here-this.timeout.com/2014/04/17/a-bumpy-ride-londoners-reluctant-to-give-up-their-seats-for-pregnant-women-on-the-tube/)