Been here nearly four weeks now, and have been trying out the different modes of transport. New York public transport is NOT easy with young kids. Here’s the low down.
There’s a brilliant free, air conditioned Connection Bus which runs a loop Downtown through Battery Park City, Tribeca and Sea Port. V handy for nipping around with the girls when it’s hot. Only downside is you always have to collapse the pram, even if the bus is practically empty – not cool when it’s heaped with bags, scooters, and a sleeping toddler. But despite that, it’s still our favourite. T loves to pull the yellow bell rope to request a stop, and solemnly calls out “Thank you, driver” when she clambers down to the pavement.
Subway (aka the Metro)
The Subway is our least favourite, so far. It feels grimy, far too hot, and borderline scary when the trains whizz past on both sides of your narrow platform. While the trains themselves are (usually) air conditioned, you get pretty scorched by the hot winds on the platform. It’s particularly hard to navigate with a pram – most stations have flight after flight of steep steps, and precious few elevators. The ticket barriers are also really hard. Apparently you’re supposed to leave the pram, swipe your card, nip through the turnstile and then rush back through the emergency exit gate to retrieve your child, holding it open with your foot so you can push them through.
Luckily I’ve had C with me each time so one of us has stayed with B, but I’d be really uncomfortable leaving her in the pram while I ran round. The answer would probably be to unclip her and carry her with me, but either way it’s difficult and stressful. In fact, I think I’d use my beloved Ergo baby carrier if I had to do it on my own.
Have found walking to be the best mode of transport, especially now am learning our neighbourhood and the route to school. There’s something about the Manhattan pavements – sorry, sidewalks – that are really hard on the feet. Swollen, sore, make you wince when you take your first steps in the morning. Behold my new uniform – a backpack and a pair of DKNY ‘sneakers’ from Century 21. No more strappy sandals for me. (Century 21 is brilliant, by the way, a cross between TKMaxx and House of Fraser. Kids’ stuff is on the 6th floor, enough escalators to satisfy any child, though there are lifts too.)
T has been using her scooter to get to school, as she finds the walk too far. Have got a little lead so when she’s tired (aka having a strop) she can put both feet on the scooter and I pull her along. It can also be used to carry it across my back if she decides to go on strike. B prefers to walk alongside the pram, stopping to admire all the dogs, helicopters, and pick up bits of leaves. As you can imagine, this has now been restricted to the home leg when we’re in no rush.
Slowly getting used to the strange pedestrian crossing system. It’s all a bit hair raising as the temptation is still to look in the wrong direction. Have yet to find the equivalent of a zebra crossing, it all seems to be traffic lights.
From what I can make out, here’s how to walk around Manhattan:
- Red hand – don’t even think about crossing
- White man – you can try, but watch out for cars turning into your path
- If there’s a policeman or woman in white gloves waving at you, obey them and ignore the lights
- When in doubt, copy the other New Yorkers inevitably nearby, especially if they have kids with them too
This week’s highs and lows:
Outside a nice deli on Coenties Slip during the lunch time rush, an off duty policeman and his friend moving tables to make space for us + pram + baby paraphernalia. Thank you officer.
Spending more than five hours on hold to a certain well known Swedish furniture shop this week, fruitlessly trying to sort out an online delivery window. Not fun.