18 December 2022

Want to steal a pram park? Thanks for ruining Christmas

| Claire Fenwicke
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Pram spaces at a shopping centre

Some parents might consider it a cardinal sin if you park in a pram space when you have no children. Photo: Canberra Drivers Facebook.

It all started with a post to the Canberra Drivers Facebook page.

“Why is it acceptable to park in parents with prams without a baby? It’s hard to get a baby in and out of the car let alone get through the car park. The owner of this car ran away when I asked if he had a pram,” the poster said.

Cue hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of comments – some outraged at the driver and some outraged at the poster, telling them to “get over it” and “I handled it in my day”.

I’m probably asking for it by weighing in, but as a mother of two small children, worrying about drivers in car parks is a frequent concern.

Think about the behaviour of some people you see in a car park: no posted sign limit so I can go as fast as I like! I’m driving really slowly in a confined space, better check my phone!

Add into the mix two two-year-old children who aren’t the biggest fans of holding hands, and maybe you can see why I’d be worried.

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Pram parks aren’t legally enforceable – they’re actually just a nice thing shopping centres do.

But given that our cars keep getting larger and broader while our car spaces seem to stay the same size, it’s increasingly difficult to safely get your children in and out of prams, particularly if you have more than one child.

Do you leave the pram containing one child at the back of your car while loading the other one in? At least drivers can see the pram, but there’s a chance the entire contraption could be run over by someone who’s distracted or going too fast.

How about putting the pram in the space next to your car (if there is one)? This means the child in the pram still stays in sight, but if someone suddenly turns into the park, you’re in a bit of a pickle.

Plus, if your toddler decides to become possessed while strapping them into the car seat, having extra space on either side of your vehicle so you can wrench the doors open and hold them down isn’t a bad thing either.

And don’t get me started if you have babies in a capsule – unless you can open the car door the whole way, forget about parking there.

On one of the rare occasions both (!) children agreed to stay in the pram while out and about. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

As one commenter on the aforementioned Facebook post said, pram parks aren’t just beneficial to those with children: “I’m a single guy, no kids, and I love these parks…! I don’t park in them or near them, as I don’t want parents/kids opening their doors into my car,” he said.

“More of these spaces please, so our cars are protected…! Haha.”

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Personally, I always cheer when there’s a pram park available where I’m going. It also means I can quickly high-tail it out of the vicinity if my kids have decided they’ve had enough – and it means the screaming stops sooner for everyone else.

This time of year can be particularly stressful as parents and carers try to get Christmas shopping done.

You can’t leave your kids at home with a bowl of water as you run these errands. Depending on your situation, you may not have a partner, friend or other family member to help you out.

Throw into the mix the excitement of Christmas decorations, lollies in aisles at pram height and heightened stress levels for mum or dad, and you’ve got a recipe for full-blown toddler meltdowns.

What I wouldn’t have given the other weekend to be parked close to the exits in a wider pram spot as one child screamed his head off after meeting Santa, and the other cried because I didn’t buy her a toy she spotted in a shop window.

So next time you think about pulling into a pram park, spread the Christmas spirit and save it for someone with a pram.

You just might make their entire day.

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Kalum Laughlan2:15 pm 22 Dec 22

From driving on Canberra roads I have come to realise that those “Baby on board” signs are secret code for “I am a really bad driver” so these drivers really do need special parking spots to keep them away from other drivers in an attempt to prevent them from sideswiping your vehicle.

What a spoilt and entitled article. Are you disabled? You can walk, can’t you. Stop be so self entitled. There’s often more room at the far edge of the car park. Park there and walk.

Claire Fenwicke wrote, “But given that our cars keep getting larger and broader while our car spaces seem to stay the same size, it’s increasingly difficult to safely get your children in and out of prams, particularly if you have more than one child.”

You car doesn’t have to get larger and broader. If it’s a problem, get a smaller car.

Hi Maya123,
Claire is just stating fact. Cars parks used to be wider. They were then were reduced, to squeeze more cars into the same space. Since then, cars have been getting wider.

Older cars such as Ford and Holden station wagons used to be large, but also lengthy. Manufacturers have moved away from that type of car because people were buying “smaller” SUV style vehicles. Smaller in length, anyway. (4WDs are common place too).
You might remember the original RAV 4? The current model is significantly larger and wider car than the original model. All manufacturers do it. A few centimetres in extra space makes their cars more marketable, particularly to families.

Of course, it’s not just the size of your car that determines the ease of getting kids and prams in and out. It’s also the size of the vehicle parked next to you.

I’m not saying there should be dedicated “pram” parking. That would just be abused, but getting kids and prams in and out in modern car parks isn’t easy.

Parking sites for parents with prams is a nice to have thing but do people know that 6 covered parking spots at the Hyperdome have now been set aside for Telsa recharging. That’s 6 parks that no one else can use.

That is very true. I try not to use the disabled parking spots unless I really need it. As in, I can’t walk very well even with a walking stick; and I may be in a fair amount of pain. If I have to use a pram spot, I will. There are some terrific points made. Trying to control two toddlers would be a nightmare. It is true that vehicle sizes are increasing but the car spaces have been the same for donkey’s years. It is also true that there are not enough disability spots.
Westfield need to do something effective about this. Larger sized car spots, triple the amount of disability parking and double the number of parents with prams spots.

HiddenDragon9:09 pm 20 Dec 22

Sadly, the rise of EVs means that a dose of poetic justice, in the form of a banana or some other suitably shaped piece of produce up the tailpipe, will be less of an option in years to come.

How do they know that many of the other pram spots had already been filled by people with prams? It seems to me that some of the most outraged parents are not just expecting pram parks, but for there to be one available especially for them at all times.

Not sure why I find this so triggering. The drama? The entitlement? Too much like the idiotic “Baby on Board” signs?

When I was a young Dad in early Canberra, I hitched my horse to the rail. Grabbed my daughter from the saddle bag, put her in the holster and swaggered into the saloon across a dusty car park to the Monaro Mall, none of this trading post special pony parking only…..oh sorry wrong post…really have to give up drinking.

My Christmas has been ruined because there was no red carpet, complete with hand picked rose petals placed equidistant on that carpet leading from my drivers’ door to the entrance of the shopping centre. This is not good at all

Claire Fenwicke – I am childless and not by choice. The sadness, pain and loss is indescribable. That is what ruins Christmas! Yet another thoughtless word or deed from a parent.

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