I am a loyal citizen of this great city of Toronto. I say citizen for a reason. It is important to understand my love for this city and I have only been living here for over a year. I even wrote a blog post on why I am raising my daughter here. But I am also a stroller mom. This means I rely on and value the public transit system, the beloved TTC for EVERYTHING. My husband and I do not own a car and will avoid it for as long as possible. So we invested in a pretty nice ride for our toddler. Her stroller has big wheels to get through any kind of terrain but manageable enough to manoeuvre on to various modes of transit be it the subway, streetcar or bus. There isn’t a cracked, gravel filled sidewalk (thank you year long construction) or slushy, icy street (nod to you #Icestorm2013) intimidating enough to stop our almost daily trek to preschool.
This trek in the heart of the city includes a five minute walk to the bus stop followed by a ten minute bus ride which drops us across the street from the school. It is a simple journey as the bus lowers itself to let passengers out as we prepare to get on. It lowers as much as it can to try to level with the foot high snow bank that has been created after a cold spell. I go about my business raising the front wheels of the stroller with a 30+ pound child adding weight to the sudden heaviness felt in my arms and struggle to get the back wheels unstuck from the bank. All the while feeling pressured to get on the bus as a group congregates around me, with the elderly of the lot offering to help. Somehow after some pushing and lifting we manage to clamber aboard the bus. My wrist is slightly sore, tendonitis aggravated. A pretty normal way for a stroller to get on the bus during the winter, no harm no foul, right? WRONG!
It wasn’t till one of the bus driver’s yanked my rose tinted I love Toronto glasses off that I finally saw the reality of my situation. He said, whilst assisting me after a particular struggle to get aboard “You really should complain to the city about clearing the snow banks.” LIGHT BULB!
You mean the foot high packed ice bordering the sidewalks and the streets blocking any clearing to get across to the bus was not supposed to be there? You mean I was not supposed to feel like I was a light weight mom who could barely lift her child occupied stroller without the help of two others? You mean I was not supposed to feel embarrassed and apologetic to all the passengers for taking up their time and their space on the bus?
It really was a revelation. The more I thought about it, the more it angered, correction angers me. I understand the city is drained of its resources at the moment because of the high and mighty Ice Storm. I understand that you the Council are requesting the province and federal government for financial aid after depleting the emergency fund for this post-storm clean up. But come on, this is a school zone!
If I am struggling with a stroller (like many other parents I am sure), how are those in wheel chairs managing? How is anyone without 100% ease of mobility or with any kind of baggage managing to SAFELY get on? I understand there is a ramp on board the bus, but I do not understand the ‘exclusive’ rights for when it is allowed to be used. I asked a driver once if he could take it out for the stroller but he said he couldn’t. I understand the cleanup crew cannot be everywhere all the time, but shouldn’t school areas at least be prioritized.
Since I have your attention here dear Councillors (I hope), is it really too much to ask that EVERY subway station be Wheelchair and Stroller Accessible?
I reiterate; I love this city of Toronto. I have and will overlook many of its imperfections through the eyes of a mother. But please, do not take advantage of this love.