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May 15

Boris buggies – the end to the tot-in-town transportation dilemma?

If you were reading the technology news on the BBC website a couple of days ago you may have come across a curious article by Dougal Shaw reporting on a brand new proposed ‘Borris buggy’. The pushchair is a space-aged style plastic buggy which would incidentally look just like a Jaws sharkhead film prop if you turned it upside down (is that just me?!). It is the brainchild of Sangwoo Park. The Borris buggy aims to tackle that most dreaded of parents’ scenarios – travelling in London with kids.

We have all been there and whole-heartedly wished we weren’t – accidentally travelling on the overcrowded bus or tube at rush hour because the toddler made us late after throwing a tantrum in the Tate, running over people’s toes on ever-overcrowded Oxford Street or at the other end of the scale, sweating under the weight of a baby in a sling and trying to carry luggage and holding the toddler’s hand for dear life as you cross London because you decided that bringing the pushchair to town really wasn’t worth it. It’s caused me such a headache in the past I made myself research some ways to cope – the results of which are found in my ‘Top Ten Tips for travelling in London with a Pushchair’ post!

Boris Buggy

The Boris Buggy – photo from bbc.co.uk

Sangwoo Park, a desperate dad himself, is proposing an end to pushchair congestion by making the ‘Boris buggy’ available to hire from a stand, similar to existing Boris bikes. This would allow you to carry your child in a sling on the tricky bits of the London transport network and pick up a ride once you need it for longer walks.

I absolutely love the idea. Every time I travel into London I face a dilemma over how to transport my toddler. I usually travel in by train alone and so cannot manage more than one type of carrying prop – the comfy but humongous rucksack, the sling or the pushchair. Now I also face the prospect of managing a toddler and a baby so the problem has only got worse. At times I am tempted to ditch the train and take my portable extended changing bag (aka the car) instead – at least when the kids are screaming blue murder in the rush hour congestion no one will be glaring at me, waking up the baby by knocking into them or tutting disapprovingly when I try to bribe the toddler to be quiet with something unsuitable.

The ‘Boris buggy’ would definitely help parents travelling into London for a day or two to keep using public transport. I could take the girls into London by sling/walking and carry my luggage in a highly practical rucksack. I would be able to tackle trains and underground/buses without the hassle of finding room for the pushchair, hunting down accessible routes or have to worry so much about the time of day and then, when I had to walk for a bit longer I could pop whichever one of them was flagging most into a pushchair. Brilliant! Trips to tourist attractions, nipping round the shops or a spur of the moment walk in the park would be a doddle and make your trip much more flexible. As for when your toddler decides halfway round Hyde Park that they don’t want to walk after all and you don’t have a pushchair or carrier – I’m pretty sure a fair few mums would be crying with relief at the sight of the Borris buggy stacked up like a hoard of superheroes in their stands.

Of course, there is a big issue with hygiene with the Boris buggy. Parking your well-clad behind on the same bike seat as billions of other Londoners is one thing but placing your precious charge in some suspect looking plastic which some other child has most likely dribbled/pooed/rubbed its chicken pox ridden hands all over or worse, some drunken student has vomited/peed on, is quite another. It is still not a show-stopper though – we use communal changing stations after all and they have to be the most unhygienic things out. I reckon disposable pushchair liners and antibacterial spray vending machines at the pushchair stations would spring up in no time and no doubt parents would bring their own blanket liners. Would that be enough to qualm people’s hygiene misgivings in the face of convenience I wonder?

Another concern for me is lack of storage space for shopping (there is one handle underneath to hand a bag on) and the sloping handles. Angled handles make it impossible to hang a changing bag from the bars – an essential requirement for a day out with kids. Hopefully again though its nothing a few design tweaks can’t solve. Price would also be a big factor – the Boris Buggy would have to be reasonable although there are definitely times I would pay a small fortune to get me out of a terrible toddler travelling scenario! Finally, I would want to know that the Boris buggy was both well-maintained and reasonably good quality. London’s streets are surprisingly rutted and badly kept in places – the capital is the only place I have ever overturned a pushchair on a pothole and I have taken my tots over some pretty rough ground! I hope the Boris buggies would be up to the job.

I have a feeling that existing London mums and dads are less likely to use the ‘Boris buggies’ . Aside from the expense of renting a pushchair, surely existing London parents have developed their own strategies for getting about with tots and will have made savvy travel kit purchases reflecting this? Maybe new parents who are yet to develop these strategies might embrace the concept more and lead to a change in pushchair behaviour?

On the whole though, I think the ‘Boris buggy’ is a brilliant invention. Even if it never takes off in London, I’ve been thinking for years how useful this kind of scheme would be at an airport and apparently that is indeed another proposed use for the new invention. Anything that takes the stress and some of the luggage load out of travelling with kids is fine by me. What do you think? Would you use it?

 

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