From the end of March, JR East Japan and a consortium of railway companies in the Kanto and Kansai regions launched a joint campaign appealing to mothers who bring their “beibii kaa” (prams or baby buggies) aboard public transport.
As reported in the Sankei Shimbun (April 22), the main thrust of the campaign was to discourage “kake-komi” (boarding in a rush), but the message also requests that the prams be folded up, especially when the train is crowded.
On March 25, the day after the campaign was announced, the Sankei received a call from an indignant mother of three, who told them, “I have to take my kids everywhere I go. This isn’t simply a question of manners aboard trains. If they’re going to set aside women’s only cars on the trains, then they should arrange for a car for parents with prams as well. Otherwise I won't be able to take my child to the doctor.”
According to JR, the campaign was spurred by about 380 calls over the first three months of this year. More than 70% of the callers requested more measures to provide safe, “barrier free” facilities for prams at stations. Another 15% called to express thanks to station staff who had provided assistance to help a mother negotiate steps, and so on. The remaining callers requested that folding up prams while on board be made compulsory, or asked that announcements be made to request that other passengers move aside to make room for the prams.
Several potentially serious mishaps with prams have occurred. In February 2006, the front wheels of a pram became caught in the closing door of a JR commuter train, which was dragged for 20 meters before the train could be stopped. Last September, a more serious mishap occurred on the Nankai Line in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, where the door closed on the handle of a pram that a mother was pulling off the train, and she was dragged 140 meters before the train halted.
“We are making efforts to improve safety measures, but at the same time we’d like to appeal to passengers with prams to exercise sensible precautions. However, we are not necessarily saying they must fold up the prams when boarding and disembarking,” a spokesperson for JR explains.
“I think the campaign is a good thing, if only to alert people to the dangers of moving about with prams and making people use them more cautiously,” says Mari Yokoya, director of the Institute for Child Safety. “In stations full of people rushing about, it’s easy for mishaps to occur. Sometimes people who collide with the pram might stumble or even fall. People need to exercise more caution in looking where they’re going.”© Japan Today