I have not read the entire thread yet, but it seems that this issue really strikes a chord with people.
We do not have a car; we walk or take public transit everywhere.
We own two strollers, one almost umbrella stroller that folds in half and is very small.... and not suitable for long rides.
The other is an Emmajunga Viking model from the 1980s... we got it mint and used and were very lucky.
The Viking is amazing. All metal and leather and canvas, very sturdy, and reversible. It has a flat basket under the seat where I can stash groceries. I walk everywhere with it and we have never had a glare from anyone in a store or on a sidewalk.
All of this considered, it is narrow. It fits through even the trendiest of check-outs, while still being sturdy enough to carry all of the gear.
Still, it is longer than the folding stroller and I have never taken it on a bus. I see the dirty looks everyone gets when they bring strollers on to the bus, taking up three seats (only one more than a mother and child would take up anyway!) and I just don't want the fight. I would probably not like the person I would become if I got attitude from someone about it, and strollers on buses have become an issue in my city.
So, I wear my 20 month old in a sling and carry all of my groceries in a backpack and two large fabric bags. It is a major pain. I would not be able to do it with two children, and anyone with a weaker back would not be able to manage.
So, when I see a mother with two children and a massive plastic stroller full of groceries get on to the bus, I flush with anger when I hear the grumbling coming from people.... they obviously don't know what it is like to attempt to do this. Sadly, the grumbling is almost always from our senior citizens, and I don't know why.
These women are often immigrants, working poor or perhaps young single mothers..... So I have wondered if it is more about the type of person behind the stroller, than the stroller itself.
But, on the other hand, I have seen dozens instances of people pushing double-wide bike trailers, containing one child, two abreast down narrow sidewalks in the swankiest sectors of the city - and doing so quite aggressively. Or, worse, parked while passing by each other, and talking. Completely blocking the sidewalk for other pedestrians, and not caring a fig about it. I have been banged into by people pushing these strollers.
This issue was raised in our local paper and it caused months of letters on all sides, pro, con and reasonable.
So, in the first example, of the typical mother with a stroller I see on a bus or in a mall, I would agree that it could be an issue of class.
However, the second example I mentioned was so strong and maintained, that I find the argument either falls apart or fragments.
The women pushing the bike trailers were from the highest income bracket, while those on the buses were from the lower end of the scale.
Both have gotten strong negative reactions in my city, and class can't be blamed for both.
**Interesting note: My husband is home with our daughter during the week, and whenever he needs to take the bus anywhere, he uses the small folding stroller and doesn't give it a second thought. He has never had a dirty look, either.**
I think some other posters had good points. I think that most of the time, it is all about the person pushing the stroller. They could be rude with a stroller or a shopping cart, but strollers seem to be much more personal and controversial, so people react more strongly.
On the low income / bus issue, I think there is something specific about mothers and children and the animosity towards them.... but I can't put my finger on it.
Since, in my experience, the anger usually comes from our senior citizens, is it the standard "I had it harder in my day, these women are given too many breaks" bitterness? Or "I raised 12 children without taking a bus on a stroller" mentality? I am not certain... but it really bothers me. I think that our age groups are becoming so stratified that it is nearly impossible to relate to each other any more.... I fear that kindness is ebbing.