Some are born pushy, others achieve pushiness and some have pushiness thrust upon them.
Being the seasoned mama of two babes about town, I’m somewhere between camps B and C.
I’ve hoisted strollers shoulder-high, ridden escalators on back wheels and bumped down stairs from zones 1 to 6.
I’ve won stand-offs with bus drivers who tried not to let me on because there were two other buggies on board. And I’ve learned to navigate Oxford Street in rush hour like a pro rally driver.
Once, I actually ran over some woman’s toe with the pushchair (well if you insist on barging into us…)
I haven’t always been so
ASBO fearless. When I had my first child, it was weeks before I figured out how to get off a bus without assistance (see below) and almost a whole year before I attempted the London underground solo with a buggy.
Nowadays, it’s second nature if not always plain strolling.
But as a London mum, you develop strong arms and a will of steel. You learn to depend on the kindness of strangers…or to demand help from those who seem content to stand and watch you struggle. And you gain a profound respect for wheelchair-bound Londoners – just how do they get around?
Top Tips for Buggies on Buses, Tubes & Trains
This seems like a laughable proposition for new parents but bulky changing bags add kilos to your load. For a big day out, make a checklist and pack only the essentials.
Push it Good!
Whether going forwards or backwards off a bus or train, lead with your back wheels to avoid the pushchair tipping dangerously (if there’s a big gap to the platform/ground, I prefer to step off first and lower the pushchair in reverse). Always buckle kids in properly and USE THE BRAKES when the vehicle’s in motion.
Escalator tip: Lead with your front wheel when riding up and stand two steps below to allow for the back wheels; on the way down lift the pushchair onto its back wheels before you get on the escalator and keep your front wheels raised until you reach the bottom.
Scroll down for links to TFL’s Journey Planner to plan your route, find a Step-Free tube map and to learn about any travel disruptions. If possible, avoid peak times and nightmarish stations (e.g. Camden tube station has endless stairs, opt for Camden Junction overground).
Choose a smarter stroller
For buses and trains, go for a slim, light pushchair with a compact fold and carry handle, plus spacious shopping basket so you don’t have to weigh down the handles. Popular brands include Maclaren Techno XLR or Baby Jogger for its amazing one-handed folding system.
Wear your baby
Many mums swear by slings or baby carriers but some of the better known brands can be heavy and hard to unbuckle. Popular choices include Ergo Baby Carrier and Hippychick hip seat.
Ask for help
Londoners are kinder than you might imagine and there’s usually someone willing to help lug your buggy up and down steps. Remove any bags from the handles as a matter of courtesy. If nobody offers, don’t be shy to ask – it can be dangerous to attempt the stairs on your own. London Transport staff should assist although for health and safety you have to remove baby from the stroller before they can carry it.
Know your rights
I was once kicked out of a lift by able-bodied, unencumbered passengers because it was ‘too full’, even though I was 7 months pregnant with a toddler in a pushchair. Never again! You have right of way over anyone but a disabled passenger on station lifts and wheelchair spaces on buses and trains. If you’re pregnant or carrying a baby, don’t be afraid to ask for a seat. On buses, the driver should let you on even with two other buggies if you’re prepared to fold your stroller.
Don’t be fooled by the tube map, some stops are closer on foot. Encourage older babes to stroll so you can leave the pushchair for shorter journeys. My eldest was buggy-free not long after he turned 3, when baby bro took over. Instead, invest in a scooter or lightweight balance bike for your toddler about town.
What are your Top Tips for Travel with Buggies?
Transport for London accessibility guide including Step-Free Tube map and Toilet facilities Tube map
Baby on Board badge for letting fellow passengers know that you’re pregnant and might need a seat. Call 0845 330 9880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Journey Planner for London train, tube and bus routes or call 0843 222 1234