Back in 2005, there was a trial on the London Underground where “baby on board” badges were given to mums-to-be. The aim was to encourage Tube passengers to give up their seats for mothers-to-be without being asked. Here’s one of the badges after it was spotted on the Tube.
Photo courtesy of Annie Mole
For the cynical among us, the question, “Is she pregnant, or just a bit fat?” might’ve crossed your mind.
At the time, a survey was conducted which gave the following results:
- 92% thought that people sitting down should offer the seat to a pregnant woman without having to be asked;
- 85% think pregnant women should ask for a seat if she needs one;
- 78% of currently pregnant women stated that they never ask for a seat when they need one.
Commuting on the London Underground is one of the reasons I don’t want to live in England’s capital. Working from home appeals much more, but I digress.
The “baby on board” initiative didn’t work, and three years on, London’s Mayor, Ken Livingstone, has launched a priority seating plan for pregnant women on the Tube.
New priority seating stickers will be rolled out throughout the Underground from March 10. They now ask passengers to give up their seat for pregnant women, as well as people with disabilities or those less able to stand. This is the first time that pregnant women have been included in the signs.
You can see an example of the new signage at the top of this article.
Research from London Underground found that a third of pregnant women who travel by Tube are never offered a seat, while some can wait for an average of five station stops before being asked to sit down.
This photo was taken on the Tube five months ago, so I’m unsure just how effective Ken Livingstone thinks this new signage will be:
Photo courtesy of Annie Mole
Still, it’s good to see such initiatives being practiced, and I hope the newly-designed signs are more of a success than the badge campaign.
London certainly aren’t the first to feature pregnant women on their priority seats, as this 10 month old photo of a Japanese train seat shows:
Photo courtesy of cybernezumi
For me, Japan’s answer is too subtle, and I wonder how many people pay attention to the fabric design before pouncing on a free seat. But in saying that, the do display prominent window signs:
Photo courtesy of psd
You might not be too impressed by the character design, so it’s hardly surprising to see the spoof window sticker below:
What’s your take?
Would you do anything differently to tackle the priority seating issue? How successful do you think this new London Underground campaign might be? Do you think pregnant women deserve your seat on the Tube? (A BBC viewer email said pregnant women are no different from those with arms full of shopping bags. Pretty harsh I thought.)
There’ll always be those people who aren’t affected by the signs, no matter how ‘in your face’, but I hope it prompts a few more people to offer their seats. At least the current news coverage will be effective in raising awareness. After that, the signage is on its own.