Peoplewatching, eavesdropping, and more on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) *** Rants from a reluctant public transportation rider.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Experiment Update - 1
On August 4th, I mentioned a little experiment I am conducting on BART. It's really just for fun and I expect nothing profound out of it. I was really just curious how often do seated passengers offer up their seat to a visibly pregnant woman who may or may not be struggling with balance. I'm further along in my pregnancy now (30.5 weeks to be exact) and certainly visibly pregnant. I'm not huge but anyone would recognize that I am expecting. So far, no one has offered me a seat. It's OK, I'm holding on and balancing just fine on my own still. Not expecting anyone to offer me special treatment since in the years of people-watching on BART, I rarely witnessed seats being offered to pregnant women.
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I would like to think that if I were traveling alone and was seated and saw a pregnant woman enter the train without any seat available that I would offer up my seat. (More likely, I would probably not even take a seat if it looked crowded.)
But what if I was seated with a companion? Would I offer up my seat then and leave my companion to sit next to the stranger? I think probably not. A little awkward, socially.
What would your expectations be?
I honestly am approaching this with no expectations at all. Everyone is different and there is no right or wrong here. Personally, I've always given up my seat to a visibly pregnant woman, but that's just my personal choice. If I were seated with a companion-- it depends on who the companion is. If it's my husband, no doubt he will let the pregnant woman sit next to me while he stands. If the companion is let's say a co-worker, I guess it depends on how in need is the woman. If she looks strong and balanced, I probably will carry on my conversation. If she looks like she could use the rest, I'd offer it.
It's such a subjective thing. I really am not judging here, nor do I have any expectations. Just think of it as a social experiment to preoccupy my ride time!! :)
I live here in New York City and carry a white cane because I am blind. I ride the A train every day to and from my office. I would say that only about 3-5% of the time does someone offer me a seat, offer to tell me there is an empty seat, or otherwise let me know where I can find a pole to grab onto in a crowded car. With more and more people riding transit because of highfuel prices, the subway cars are more crowded. I guess I should feel relieved that I will not have to worry about being a pregnant woman any time soon.
It's a hard line to draw. I feel like if you're pregnant and still capable of riding bart you understand the odds of getting a seat (depending on your station) can be slim. Therefore, if you still chooose to ride then you have to expect that no one has a responsibility (besides the obvious) to give up their seat for you.
I would hope if risk was a part of the ride, the pregnant riders would choose alternatives and not accept an increase in risk to their baby.
The double-edge sword is, my significant other isn't pregnant so I don't know if my opinion would change when that occurs.
I figured this tidbit might call under a similar category re: BM's pregnancy. My wife took our son for the first time on BART from Concord to Embarcadero. They boarded to come home during commute and I guess there were a few patrons all too considerate to get up and provide her a place to sit with our son who was in his stroller.
Yet when a handicap (or is that handicapabale?) person boarded she moved from that seat, but was quickly given another place to sit by another gentleman...
I think it is important to give up my seat to a visibly pregnant woman. There is a severe risk if the woman falls. I also know that I would have been furious at anyone who chose to remain sitting if my wife would have ridden when she was pregnant with my kids.
The only time I may wait to get up is if I'm in the window seat and someone is in the aisle seat or I'm basically in the middle and it would be hard for her to get to my seat. Even then I will keep watching and if no one else gets up then I will.
Not that I'm trying to justify douchebags, but there are times when a woman is not pregnant...she just looks like she is.
I have not encountered this issue on BART, but I know sometimes my co-workers or friends who are larger have been asked (in a non public transit setting) how far along, when was the due date, etc. So that's another side of it.
Sometimes I'm really frustrated when I'm in the middle of the car/window seat and a pregnant woman comes in and none of the aisle people give her their seat. Quite often these are the same people who stand up 5 BART stops away and block the doors for entering/exiting people.
Have to agree with the poster who said you can't always tell... some ladies get a nice big gut naturally, so it's hard to know who is pregnant. When it's painfully obvious I always give up my seat for a pregnant woman automatically. Even though sometimes it seems like they are willing to stand out of pride.
Sometimes I think if a person (lets say a bordeline' eldery person) wants a seat, then they should just say something. It's not always obvious to the rest of us that you have a hard time standing, are pregnant, have a bad knee, ect. So if you want a handicapped seat, just ask -- I don't think there are many people who will deny you, even if you look completely healthy. Most people will assume you have a good reason. This passive/agressive stuff is silly.
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