Remember June, the bus chick in training I wrote about back in November of ’06? (I’m guessing not, which is why I provided the link.) Her mother Lily, a full-fledged bus chick, recently wrote an article about busing with children for NWSource. Lily has been riding around town with June since June was three weeks old, and she has some great suggestions for how to plan, what to carry, and how to travel safely. (A fun fact I didn’t know: Traveling to school on the bus is 12 times safer than traveling by car.)
Here are some of Lily’s safety tips:
• Stay seated. Children are often tempted to crawl on the seats of the bus, and older kids have been known to stand and “surf” while the bus is moving. Remind kids to stay in their seats. According to transit safety officer Sue Stewart, forward-facing seats are generally the safest*.
• Communicate with the driver. If you know you will need extra time to get situated before the bus starts moving, politely ask the driver to wait until you are seated.
• When traveling with infants, it can be easiest to carry them in a sling or front-pack carrier. While you can bring an infant in a car-seat carrier, there is no place to secure it, and it can be unwieldy. However, it is still a great option if you are going to be driving on either end of your bus trip.
Lily also advises would-be bus parents to travel light. After just 11 weeks of bus parenting, I know this to be good advice. From last week’s Real Change column.
As a bus chick, I deal with the competing requirements of being prepared for any eventuality and traveling light. Pre-Chicklet, I had reached a good balance, keeping my bus chick bag light but stocked with everything a childless young(ish) woman might need on her adventures. These days, my bus chick bag must double as a diaper bag, and I’ve got an additional 10-pound piece of precious cargo to consider. A baby carrier keeps my hands free and the Chicklet happy (it also prevents the hassle of taking a stroller on the bus), but I’m still figuring out how much (and what) to carry with me.
I’ve gotten pretty good at packing the stuff Chicklet will need, but that often means leaving behind some of my own necessities–like reading material. I’ll work it out (and continue to pick Lily’s brain) until I get it right and then report back. In the meantime, as long as we have diapers, her snow suit, and a bus pass, we’ll make out alright.
* Over the summer, I received a question from a reader about the safest seat for traveling with an infant. The folks I contacted at Metro didn’t know of an official position on this, but after a bit of deliberation, they concluded that the seat behind the driver was the safest. It seems to me that they should get together with safety officer Sue and come up with a consistent list of recommendations, then make it available to riders on the Web site and at pass sales offices.