From ‘Monster wheels’, 9 Oct 2011, article by Jane Ng, Lifestyle Sunday Times
Supersized strollers are getting on the nerves of commuters and shoppers. Fed-up folk have to dodge bulky baby buggies rolled out by pushy parents who at times behave like they and their little princes and princesses own the road.
These are not the slim-built push prams you see at the neighbourhood centre, but are rugged three or four-wheelers which can scale rough terrain with ease, if need be. But they seem to be the rage among modern mothers, never mind that their prices can go to more than $2,000 for a Stokke, a lifestyle stroller by a Norwegian company.
One commuter tired of push coming to shove is Ms Helen Lim, 63, a headhunter who takes the MRT to work every day. She sometimes finds her way blocked by big strollers at the entrance of a carriage. Ms Lim politely asks the parent to move the stroller aside, or shoos other passengers away from the carriage area designated for wheelchairs, so the pram can move there.
Although she takes the initiative to solve the problem, she is losing patience, and feels the situation is worsening. Speaking to LifeStyle, Ms Lim, who is not married, said she is ‘annoyed’, both at pram users and inconsiderate commuters.
‘Strollers are a hindrance when you don’t fold them up. They take up standing room and block entrances. Then there are passengers who are inconsiderate and don’t take the initiative to move in, so it makes the situation worse,’ she said.
The futuristic Stokke pram looks like an all-terrain military-grade armed mobile unit that could transform into a battle exoskeleton out of Avatar, while the Bugaboo Bee stroller (see below) is a space-age utility vehicle that should have been featured in a Transformers movie. Both state-of-the-art baby accessories make parents heaving their kids around in a sling or backpack look Neanderthal in comparison. Ironically, prams models are given twee names like the Bugaboo ‘donkey’, ‘cameleon’, ‘bee’ when in reality, ‘Goliath’ or ‘Devastator’ would be more fitting, judging by the number of toes being crushed by these marauding, mechanical beasts.
Strollers are no longer ‘baby carriages’ like what they used to be in the past, now sleek, portable cribs equipped with sexy, NASA-endorsed features that could also describe the specifications of a luxury sedan. I’ve no problem with parents bringing infants around in these little makeshift trailer homes, but what’s really annoying is if they transport kids old enough to walk about on their own, more so if they are playing with Daddy’s iPhone in the comfort of the pram instead of sleeping. Prams are also formidable obstacles if they hoard aisles at a restaurant or food court, not just because they make it completely inaccessible for you to get a table, but trying to move it would provoke an angry, overprotective parent into calling the police on you for infant assault. You also don’t want some creepy design out of a horror movie like Rosemary’s Baby.
Even in the late forties, baby carriages were a relative luxury, with pram-beds available from $50. For the ‘Loveliest baby in the world’, you could get a Marmet folding pram for a bargain of $179 in the early sixties, though design-wise it looked rather similar to a wheelchair (see below). In the late eighties you could get a ‘Geometric Convertible Stroller Bed’ for $239.95 at Toys R Us.
Today, for a cool $2k you can get a Stokke pram/stroller which not only fulfills the basic function of baby ambulation, but also aids the ‘healthy development of bones, joints and muscles’. It comes with a ‘cocoon visor’ too. So, it’s not just any ordinary stroller/pram, it’s an ergonomic growth-accelerator and incubator that looks like a cyber-nanny as well. Being accused of helming Mad Max- style battering rams by irate commuters is a hefty price to pay when you’re a busy parent and bulldozing your way through the crowd is the only way to get things done. If the government won’t do anything about overcrowding or baby-friendly spaces we only have technology to look to if there’s any hope of miniaturisation, or at least putting our kids on robotic walkers with intuitive (and safe!) parent-obeying AI. Unfortunately, when it comes to baby comfort and safety, bigger does seem to be ‘better’, to kiasu parents at least. Or you could blame Battleship Potemkin, a 1925 classic which features a scene of a renegade baby carriage tumbling down the stairs, scaring parents the world over into buying more expensive, and presumably safer, prams. Also, nobody wants to be seen with the pram equivalent of a newspaper pick-up van next to a monster truck.