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Parents address flak over 'irresponsible' use of baby strollers on escalators

Parents address flak over 'irresponsible' use of baby strollers on escalators

A mother pushes her child in a pram. (File photo: Francine Lim)

SINGAPORE: Of all the things that have annoyed Chow Xuanhui as a mother, this is not what most people would expect - not being able to get into lifts. 

"Those idiotic lunch crowds at Seletar Mall from nearby offices," said the 33-year-old. "Every time the lift door opens, you see these idiots inside with no kids or strollers, and not on wheelchairs."

"And they're just nonchalant."

Ms Chow's comments came after CNA on Wednesday (Jun 19) released statistics on escalator-related injuries caused by "user behaviour" such as prams on escalators.

There were more than 350 incidents reported last year, with the number of escalator-related injuries among children more than doubled between 2012 and 2016 at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

More than half of those who arrive at the hospital with injuries involving prams on escalators tend to be admitted.

READ: Almost an accident a day on Singapore’s escalators, and the reasons why

The news generated hundreds of shares and comments on social media, with some calling parents who use strollers on escalators - generally prohibited in Singapore - "irresponsible" and "lazy".

But Ms Chow said: "Who will want to push (the pram) on the escalators? Only when (you're) fed up."

Ms Chow said she often found herself having to push her pram, with her toddler son in it, onto the escalators because she had "waited too long for the lift". 

It appears many share her outrage. 

Other parents have spoken up online with similar complaints, with one commenting on CNA's Facebook page: "Many parents use prams on escalators because the lifts at malls are getting smaller and crowded."

Another said: "I saw so many 'normal and fit' people ... waiting for lifts. Very inconsiderate."

A commenter recalled an incident in which he had to wait more than 20 minutes for a lift at VivoCity, which led him to quarrel with “local youngsters” who “rushed in without caring”.

Several parents CNA spoke to offline admitted to pushing the pram onto the escalator with their child still in it, despite knowing the risks involved.  

“There is a possibility that the pram may lose balance, it may topple over, the wheels can get stuck,” said Mr Daryl Tng, a 24-year-old father of one.

The parents were unanimous in their rationale for it - the lifts are overcrowded. 

When asked if he had ever requested for people to give way, Mr Tng said: “I don’t dare to ask.”

“It’s like first come first serve. I don’t really think it should be, but then it’s the mentality of the people living in Singapore,” he said. 

There are nearly 7,000 escalators across Singapore, and issues surrounding their safety have become increasingly important.

At the other end of the debate, some said was it "not fair to say (that) normal and fit people shouldn't take lifts".

“Are lifts for pram users only?” asked one Facebook user in the comments section. 

“I feel that that’s not the point of the matter because then you can say animals, the birds and the bees, also can take the lift," 29-year-old father Badron Adnan told CNA. 

“You should have the heart and kindness to prioritise the ones who need it more. It’s not right for an able-bodied person to take the lift and then complain that an elderly or special needs person has to take the lift," he added. 

General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, Dr William Wan, said he feels that while certain actions may show that Singaporeans are thoughtless, it may not mean that they are unkind.

“Many people use the lift as a matter of course and may not have given thought to others around them who may have a greater need.  To that extent, they have not given thought - hence literally thoughtless,” explained Dr Wan. 

“But that is not necessarily a judgement on their ability to be kind.  We are often so self-absorbed with thinking about work that we fail to give thought to the needs of those around us,” he said, adding that people just need some reminders from time to time.

SMRT Corporation chief communications officer Margaret Teo stressed that the safety of the commuters is the company's priority.

“Our ongoing efforts encourage and educate commuters to use escalators and lifts safely, through station announcements and information on reminder signage located near our escalators and lifts.

“We also engage commuters on travel safety in our network via the latest series of animated video messages featuring the DreamWorks KouKou Buddies," she told CNA.

One of SMRT’s escalator guidelines include using the lift if you have limited mobility, are carrying bulky items or using a pram, or are feeling unwell.

However, Mr Badron said he felt more could be done in the other direction.

“There’s a lot of push asking parents to take the lifts but there’s no campaign to tell people to give way. It’s not strong enough,” he said.

 Ms Chow's sister, Teresa, said: “It wouldn’t hurt to raise awareness but I also feel like if we have to come to this point, it’s a bit sad.”

“It’s like every single thing (has to be pointed) out to Singaporeans,” said the 24-year-old, who often babysits. 

Dr Wan agreed that Singapore has a long way to go towards becoming a gracious society, but believes that “we have already covered some distance”. 

“We are getting there because we are reminded, nudged, inspired, and received kindness when we needed it,” he said.

“Especially (with the) fast-changing ... landscape, my best advice on getting there is that we should continue to be considerate and other-centred."

“Lots of that is common sense," he concluded.

Source: CNA/co(hs)


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