Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stroller Wars

Two weeks ago, mothers with strollers from all over Jerusalem took over Emek Rephaim on a Friday afternoon with a massive peaceful demonstration. The purpose of the march was to highlight the lack of services for young parents and their children, specifically in terms of getting around the city with ease, with a child; surprising for a country which encourages Jewish population growth.

I had no need to notice this phenomenon until Raphaela was born, and indeed, pushing a stroller in the streets of Jerusalem can be difficult, noisy and dangerous. For starters, not all sidewalks have a natural ramp, and if I am rushing to cross the street, I will often smash the wheels of the stroller against the curb, in my efforts to get the baby out of traffic.

Today though, was case-in-point of this problem, after I put Raphaela in the stroller to take her to the care taker this morning. When I got to the top of my street, several cars had parked at odd angles and on the sidewalk itself, so there was no clear space for the stroller. I had to disconnect the car seat (and Raphaela), hand her over this barrier to a random woman passing by, and then together we adults lifted the base of the stroller over one of the cars.

When I got to the closest intersection, they were doing what seems like endless construction on the water pipes, and so that part of the sidewalk was blocked by a noisy generator, several tractors and a steaming pile of fresh tar. In order to get around the confusing site, I had to walk the stroller into traffic, onto the street.

I decided to cross to the other side, to avoid the noise and air pollution, and less than two blocks later we hit another construction site. This time a cement mixer blocked the walk way, and I again pushed the stroller into on-coming traffic to avoid a moving crane.

I was thankful that the two of us arrived at the care taker alive and safely. Unfortunately today illustrated a slightly exaggerated scenario of a regular occurrence.

Which government office would handle my complaints?


Ariela Shaag said...

Its not only parents with strollers - it makes it impossible for disables people to get around

Rabba bar bar Chana said...

I noticed this problem back in 1996 when I spent 2 weeks walking around Jerusalem on crutches. The sidewalks are very often slanted, making it hard to maintain balance and the cars and dumpsters parked on the sidewalk kept me from walking by. I had a pretty close call when I fell into the traffic on Rechov Aza. I can only imagine how much worse it is with a stroller.

Sarah said...

It's not just strollers or disabilities; I often walk around construction vehicles on my sidewalk, into oncoming traffic, and pray for my life, even though I'm relatively unencumbered! Not having a sidewalk is really scary!