My New Leaf Journal profile notes that I am fond of taking walks. On most days, I walk at least five miles in Brooklyn. On these walks, I observe many things, overhear things on the street, and make mental notes about walking etiquette. In today’s post, I will examine how couples go single file when one half of the couple is pushing a baby stroller.
Brooklyn has many relatively narrow sidewalks. These sidewalks are often made narrower by the presence of tree pits. Because people walk in both directions on sidewalks, it is often necessary for people who are walking two-wide to collapse into a single file. While some of the two-wide people are a bit recalcitrant about giving way, apparently thinking that persons walking toward them should step into the street or into a tree pit while they pass, even the proudest of the two-abreast walkers tend to give way when confronted with someone who has enough pride to not give more than he or she is being given.
One scenario that comes up often is the stroller couple – a mother and father where one parent (usually the mother) is pushing a stroller. Some strollers are wider than two people walking two abreast, but we will leave that aside for now. This inquiry is limited solely to scenarios wherein there are two adults and one adult is pushing a stroller.
Let us say that you are walking toward the couple. Now, if you are like me, you will maintain strategic flexibility. The couple has to choose a line, but because one half of the couple is encumbered by a stroller, I leave it up to the couple to sort things out.
Thinking about it logically, the parent who is not pushing the stroller should move in front of, or behind, the parent who is pushing the stroller. The reason why I wait for the couple to choose a line is precisely because the stroller is the most difficult thing to maneuver in this situation.
I have found that logic does not apply.
Almost never failing, the parent pushing the stroller – usually the mother – falls behind, or moves in front of, the parent who is not pushing the stroller. It works just as well for me, as long as one line down the sidewalk is clear. But why does the stroller clear a path? Would it not be easier for the parent – usually the father – to move in front of or behind the stroller?
What is going on here? If it is the mother with the stroller and the father without the stroller, is this some kind of distortion of the “ladies first” concept? It may be chivalrous to hold the door open for your wife. It is not chivalrous to make your wife drop behind you or push ahead of you with a stroller. That is not how chivalry works. I dare say that this is the opposite of being a gentleman.
To be clear, my same stroller logic applies when a man is pushing the stroller and a woman is the one without the stroller. I only specify the opposite scenario because it is far more common.
Aside – why are some strollers so big? Even the one-child strollers. Ridiculous. We need a stroller width limit on the sidewalk. Instead, I am seeing strollers with side cars designed to hold stuff, not a second baby. Also, are these things becoming bigger because their passengers are becoming bigger? I am seeing more and more six and seven year olds in strollers. Now I know there are cases of older children with special needs, but that is not what I am observing. What I am seeing more of are perfectly ordinary kids who are bored out of their minds and who must choose whether their knees touch their chins or their feet drag on the ground in order to fit in the stroller. What ever happened to walking? Not scooters! No skateboards! Walking!
But I digress.