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-   -   Babies in the city - car seat question (http://www.mothering.com/forum/422-family-safety/1251595-babies-city-car-seat-question.html)

Ruby2 08-09-2010 12:18 PM

So this is probably a no-brainer to urban mammas, but I've just never considered the question before...what do you do with babies in a taxi or on a bus??? Obviously urban families don't cart a giant car seat all over town with them, right? ...are they not required?

Dh and dd are tagging along with me on a business trip next month and this is the first time I've had to think about it. We probably won't stray far from the hotel, but we'll definitely take some sort of public transit from the airport.

Thanks for the insights!

Tway 08-09-2010 12:25 PM

I just take DD in her stroller on the bus or Metro. When it comes to taxis, I put her in her carseat, which has a handle, and if we need to walk around I bring the bulky stroller that the car seat fits into.

I have the same issues, as we live in the city and have no car. It's going to get tricky as DD won't fit into that car seat much longer!

aramat 08-09-2010 01:14 PM

I wonder about this all the time, too....what OTHER moms do, because I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing. Personally, I've always got the baby in the mei tai when we're out, and I keep her in it when we take a taxi, and I wear a seatbelt. It would usually be impossible for me to lug around the carseat!

Tway 08-09-2010 01:17 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by aramat View Post
Personally, I've always got the baby in the mei tai when we're out, and I keep her in it when we take a taxi, and I wear a seatbelt. It would usually be impossible for me to lug around the carseat!
It's illegal here to have an infant under 5 (I think it's 5?) in a taxi without a car seat. So it's either take a taxi and lug the seat (to a doctor's appointment or something) or take the bus/Metro (if we're going to be out for awhile).

tbone_kneegrabber 08-09-2010 01:22 PM

I don't take taxis. Never really have. Once in a while if I was out until super late I would take a cab home, but usually no. So once I had my kid that didn't change. We've never ridden in a taxi.

But I do take public transportation ALL THE TIME. And I usually wear ds in the ergo, although sometimes now he walks along side of me. Usually we can get a seat so he doesn't have to stand on the bus/trolley/subway/train.

Often riding public transit is more fun for ds than the place we are going!

It really depends on the city to determine how the public transit system runs and if it goes enough places etc.

jenifera2 08-09-2010 01:45 PM

Different states have different laws, but in the state of Illinois (so applicable certainly to Chicago where cab rides are common) taxis are commercial vehicles and therefore exempt from carseat laws. You can install your carseat if you want (possibly or possibly not getting some grief from the driver and other traffic since it will take time), but you are not legally obligated to do so.

If you'd be comfortable holding your child in a taxi while in the city, then it's worth checking the local laws to determine whether this is allowed wherever you're going.

Tattooed Hand 08-09-2010 02:05 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by aramat View Post
I wonder about this all the time, too....what OTHER moms do, because I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing. Personally, I've always got the baby in the mei tai when we're out, and I keep her in it when we take a taxi, and I wear a seatbelt. It would usually be impossible for me to lug around the carseat!
I do this. We don't ride taxis often, but for the times we do, DD goes in the Moby and and I strap on a seat belt in the back seat. I also wear her on all public transportation.

carmel23 08-09-2010 02:35 PM

In most cities taxis are exempt from seat belt laws, so it is legal to have a child in a taxi without a carseat. That being said, the taxi driver also *must* allow you to install a carseat if you want to.

I take my kids on the bus/light rail and do not really worry, the baby I typically wear in an ergo.

blessedwithboys 08-09-2010 02:50 PM

When I go to NYC, I worry not about trains and buses. When the dc were smaller, we avoided taxis, but more recently, I allowed ds2 to skip his booster in the taxi. It was a short hop, from South Ferry to Chinatown (my sister didn't want to walk anywhere.) I know a "short trip" isn't inherently safer by virtue of distance, and I am a booster seat fanatic at home, but I decided it wasn't worth my whole trip being ruined by having to carry a carseat all over Manhattan for the day.

Anyway, that was last year, and the guilt must have overwhelmed me, bc this summer we skipped taxis in favor of buses so ds would not have to ride without a booster.

For a young baby, I would say skip the taxis and go with safer forms of transportation so you don't have to lug a carseat.

BathrobeGoddess 08-09-2010 06:15 PM

moved to family safety...home of all car seat threads

lyra2007 08-09-2010 06:46 PM

Just remember you cannot/should not wear the seatbelt over the baby in the wrap--you have to buckle yourself then hold the baby (somehow!)

chinupchamp 08-09-2010 07:02 PM

Just as a funny aside, perspective wise, I once rode in the trunk of a taxi, a quasi hatchback, in Bolivia with a young mother and her infant in her rebozo. The ride was at least fifteen minutes long along a highway of sorts. We both laughed as I lost my flip-flop when the taxi hit a huge bump!

That was a totally surreal experience and it totally blew my mind. Yikes!

I take DD on the bus/train all the time. It's just what we have to do and we don't worry about car seats on the bus. She just sits beside me pointing at all the people and asking awkward questions about them

an_aurora 08-09-2010 07:15 PM

Here (which you can't exactly call urban, since our largest city is pretty tiny ) taxis are not exempt from car seat laws.

I would strongly urge you to take the bus/metro and avoid taxis, and you won't have to lug around a car seat.

triscuitsmom 08-09-2010 07:26 PM

On public transportation which does not have seatbelts I either wear or hold my child (so buses and trains/subways).

Taxis are no different safety wise than any other vehicle and I would never ever drive with my child in no carseat in any other vehicle so why on earth would one think it was safe to do so in a taxi? I don't and won't and I do take taxis fairly frequently.

At this point I have two kids in seats and I doubt I will be going very many places by myself with all three kids in a taxi (that's the only way we'd fit, there are two many of us for all of us to go with DP and I both) but if I did for a doctors appointment or something like that I'd install all three of their seats for the trip there and the trip back.

Travelling in a car is one of the less safe things most of us regularly do... I can't imagine knowingly putting my child at risk of permanent injury or death in this situation when it's preventable (or at least lessens the risk greatly) by using a properly installed seat.

Edited to add: Carseats aren't legally required in taxis here either. Neither is having any child (even under 1 year of age) who is over 20lbs rearfacing, but that doesn't change what is safe.

mysticmomma 08-09-2010 07:28 PM

in MD taxi's are considered mass transit/public transportation and no carseat is req'd.

Altair 08-09-2010 08:40 PM

It's just really, REALLY hard for a city mom to always use carseats in taxis without a LOT of hardship. You can investigate which car services have their own seats, but you have to be careful they are often outdated. Public Transportation is easier, for sure, but doesn't go everywhere, even here in NYC. We have a car but most people don't here and they will end up using a car seat when the baby is an infant with a snap and go, then rely on car services for toddler seats, and possibly carry a booster. But you do not see many moms lugging around full size seats on a daily basis while trying to food shop, play at the playground, do daily chores, go to doctors appointments, etc.

an_aurora 08-09-2010 09:33 PM

The Combi Coccoro is a convertible that has a stroller attachment (the Combi Flash is the stroller). And the Orbit system has a stroller attachment as well.

Altair 08-09-2010 10:45 PM

The Orbit, yes, if you have the money. But the Sit and Stroll and the Combi, in my opinion, just don't hold up to city stroller use. Your stroller IS your car. I'm not saying it's safe or the right choice, but I understand it because it's really hard and you need 5 more hands. And heaven forbid you have more than one kid. Public transportation really is the way to go 99% of the time.

freestylemama 08-09-2010 10:50 PM

I've ridden trains, cabs, buses and subways without car seats. I think it depends on the state, but most allow for children to not be restrained on public transport. When DD was really small I wore her on these things. Now, she just sits in our lap or on the seat next to us. Buses/subways don't have restraints. You can carry car seats and use them in cabs. Most cabs have belts. We usually avoid cabs if we don't want to lug a car seat.

HTH!

Devaskyla 08-10-2010 12:06 AM

Public transit, wearing or a stroller. or they just sit in the seat, depending where we're going/age. We rarely take a cab, but when we do, I wear the baby. If I have to lug a car seat at my destination, that means I can't push dh in the wheelchair or get groceries or whatever I took a cab in order to do. I walk or take transit, or even occasionally rent a car, the majority of the time, but sometimes that just isn't feasable.

Ruby2 08-10-2010 10:01 AM

Thank you everyone for your feedback. I think we'll plan to take a bus or train from the airport and avoid taxis. I agree that putting dd in danger if it's preventable is not an option...sometimes though the hotel transportation from the airport is a van, not a bus. I guess I'll call to find out and just be prepared to check the carseat if I have to...

We'll just plan to wear her in her beco as much as possible.

chinupchamp 08-10-2010 10:09 AM

I just wanted to add that we have a Britax Marathon and we bought the GoGo Babyz (of something like that), which was a great tool for taxi use. If you haven't seen these, basically it's like two wheels with a retractable handle that you attach to your carseat that turns it into either a stroller or a piece of rolling luggage.

And you don't have to detach the wheels to install it into the car or cab, FF at least. I don't know about RF, but I don't see why not.

Once you move into the convertible or toddler seats, the whole stroller combo doesn't really apply anymore and lugging a Marathon through the city without this gadget is a nightmare to say the least.

Good luck!

sondacop 08-10-2010 04:28 PM

Legal, feasible and safe - I vote safe.
It can be a hassle lugging a car seat around, but having a baby in any other situation during a crash is not a good idea. Cabs, buses and trains have all been known to be involved in crashes, would you consider them safer than a car?
I don't think anyone has dummy tested a baby in a baby-carrier in a crash. I would just use my imagination: The adult gets flung forward till the seat belt jerks, What would happen to the baby? It kind of gets folded, no? What would happen to the baby's back? The head has no support and gets thrown forward too, what would happen to the neck? I might be wrong about all of this, but I don't think baby-wearing is a solution.

Altair 08-10-2010 11:18 PM

I'm not sure I understand, PP, how do you use a car seat in a train or bus? They don't have seat belts or LATCH, at least in NYC.

It's not a matter of hassle in terms of cabs often, it's a matter of impossible. You simply can't push around a bulky car seat or two or three while doing your groceries, appointments, shopping, etc. You are only one person. How do you use 2 GoGo Kids on an everyday basis and manage to get a weeks worth of food? City living is just different, in many ways. Because many of us rely on car transportation SO MUCH LESS often than the average American, I'd say we have a much lower chance of getting into a crash. Buses and trains AND WALKING 99% of your day are so much safer.

triscuitsmom 08-10-2010 11:28 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Altair View Post
It's not a matter of hassle in terms of cabs often, it's a matter of impossible. You simply can't push around a bulky car seat or two or three while doing your groceries, appointments, shopping, etc. You are only one person. How do you use 2 GoGo Kids on an everyday basis and manage to get a weeks worth of food? City living is just different, in many ways. Because many of us rely on car transportation SO MUCH LESS often than the average American, I'd say we have a much lower chance of getting into a crash. Buses and trains AND WALKING 99% of your day are so much safer.
I 100% agree with you about buses, trains, and walking

For the taxi though, it really is a matter of compromise or not I think. I will not ever put my children in a moving car/truck/van etc without proper restraint barring true emergency (that I can't even think of right now).

I have two kids, both in carseats. I have taken a cab to do my shopping and put both seats in the cart and worn the baby while the preschooler walks and just put what I'm buying in all around the seats. I have taken both kids in seats to appointments and uninstalled the seats and kids and taken them inside and then reinstalled and gone on from there afterwords. I have done it by myself many times.

It is a *huge* pain in the butt with two kids. It is not something I enjoy doing at.all. I take the bus or walk whenever it is at all possible. And yet I will not compromise on car safety knowing the stats. It doesn't matter if you are in a car one time in a year... if that is the time that some other careless driver hits you it just doesn't matter. I don't use carseats because it's the law, I use them because I know that by and large they have huge potential to make the difference between life and death or permanent injury to my child. It is a *huge* hassle, and yet it is worth it. The statistics bear out driving in a vehicle as one of the least safe things most of us do.

dosergirl 08-11-2010 10:58 AM

Taxis are definitely not exempt from seat belt laws, just that the taxi driver is not going to pass up a fare because you don't have a car seat. It's not up to him to keep your child safe. What if you get into an accident while traveling in the taxi without a car seat or child safety restraint? How would you feel if your child were injured? It would be much worse then the hassle of lugging the car seat around.

We live in the city and don't have a car. We use the stroller or Ergo mostly and rarely take cabs because my 11 month old has a huge car seat, but I would never have her in a moving vehicle for any length of time if she were not in her seat.

chickabiddy 08-11-2010 11:11 AM

Taxis are indeed exempt from seatbelt/carseat laws in many states, but the laws of physics and physiology don't change just because it's a hire car.

Altair 08-12-2010 08:10 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by triscuitsmom View Post

I have two kids, both in carseats. I have taken a cab to do my shopping and put both seats in the cart and worn the baby while the preschooler walks and just put what I'm buying in all around the seats. I have taken both kids in seats to appointments and uninstalled the seats and kids and taken them inside and then reinstalled and gone on from there afterwords. I have done it by myself many times.
I'm just trying to figure out what this could really look like in NYC, where I live. I have simply never seen a mom be able to spend an entire day out in the city running errands and manage to carry around 2+ carseats plus everything else she needs. You don't have a shopping cart with you the whole day.

We all have our own absolutes. I for one would never live in a place where I needed to use cars to travel. Public transportation and walking is just so much safer and cleaner in my book.

For the record, I've never used a taxi without a car seat, but I understand why Moms are forced to make that choice.

Princess ConsuelaB 08-12-2010 08:29 PM

When I've lived in smaller cities(like Boise or farther out suburbs of a larger city) you could call the taxi company ahead of time and they could provide a car seat, obviously this wouldn't work if you were just flagging down a taxi on the street. I don't know if this was available in larger metro areas I've lived because I didn't have a baby to worry about then Dragging my friend's kids all over town we just stuck to buses and trains and didn't worry about it...it's cheaper anyway. Car seats aren't really practical public transportation.

Comtessa 08-13-2010 10:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Princess ConsuelaB View Post
Car seats aren't really practical public transportation.


I don't take taxis for this reason. Well, and because taxis are ridiculously expensive in Cleveland and almost impossible to get if you're not in the central entertainment district. We have fewer taxis per city resident than any other major city in the US. I think if I had to take a taxi in a strange city I would just hold DD tight, promise the driver a big tip to take it slow (and they earn money by the minute, not the mile, after all), and hope for the best. I would not haul a giant carseat with me on a trip somewhere. No way.

I do take DD on the bus all the time, usually in a sling or carrier. I hate dealing with strollers on the bus, and people frequently trip on them or knock into them with bags or umbrellas, so I don't do it anymore. It makes some kinds of urban travel more difficult (a stroller is always easier when you're shopping), but I'm lucky enough to live within walking distance of most of what we need, so I can just walk there with the stroller.

I lived for a year in Chile, and while I was there they were considering passing a carseat law in the country. And the moms I knew were horrified, because there was absolutely no way that they could have managed that. In my neighborhood (a very poor slum), nobody owns a car because it's just too expensive. A car seat is something only a wealthy person can afford. There are a few buses in town, but most of the public transit is provided by colectivos, basically a taxi running on a fixed route that picks up/drops off passengers as it goes along. Frequently parents flag down nearly-full colectivos with several kids and then pile the children into the laps of the other passengers. I often had strange toddlers in my lap on the colectivo route.

None of this is to say that this is safe, right? Because the colectivo drivers only make money if they travel at top speed, and they drive like absolute maniacs. I typically just closed my eyes and prayed when they went careening down the streets. But it is to say that in that neighborhood, at least, people just do the best they can for their kids, and sometimes that means plopping them on a stranger's lap and hoping the stranger holds tight. In the U.S., we are fortunate and wealthy and safety-conscious (and litigation-minded) enough that most children travel in a car seat most of the time, which is undoubtedly safer. But in other countries, that just isn't feasible.

Okay, one last point about carseats on public transit. When I had DD, the urban hospital where she was born insisted that no baby is allowed to leave the hospital unless it is in a car seat. I was like ??? Because don't some babies leave the hospital by bus? It's not possible that every single baby born in that hospital is born to a car-owning family. And carseats are expensive! Not to mention a foolish purchase if you don't have a car and won't be transporting your baby by car. Just another example of a myopically car-centered culture...

ETA: Cartoonist Andy Singer has a wonderful cartoon called "life to death in a car" which is great. It goes something like this: a picture of an ambulance (presumably with a laboring woman inside), then a baby in a carseat in a car, a kid strapped into the backseat of a car, a young adult driving a beater car, a middle-aged adult driving a minivan, an elderly adult driving a big sedan, and finally a hearse. This conversation made me think of it.


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