Riddle Me This: Carless Travel with a Child

I’ve been pondering this riddle ever since my wife and I became expectant parents. How does one get around metro Seattle with an infant and no car? If Metro was sufficient, then my riddle would be solved since babies can travel safely and often comfortably without a car seat. But as we all know, Metro can be, how should I put it, lacking. Which leaves, as I can figure, three other options to supplement bus travel – Flexcar, taxi, and car rentals. Let’s tackle the pros and cons.

Flexcar is a great, affordable way to get a car in a pinch. The problem lies in the need for a car seat. Flexcar is hourly, so it’s not likely that anyone will use it for more than a few hours at a time (at least in my case). So to use a Flexcar with a baby would require me to carry a baby and a car seat to the car, install the car seat, install the baby, drive, uninstall the baby, execute the errand, reinstall the baby, drive back, uninstall the baby, uninstall the car seat, carry the baby and the car seat back home. No thanks.

Taxis are a bit of a mystery to me since I don’t use them often. Taxis are cars, so I assume that they are subject to car seat laws but have heard rumor to the contrary. But even if I didn’t have to use a car seat in a taxi, would I want to? If you decide to use a car seat, you have the same installation issues as with a Flexcar.

Rentals are easier since they are typically used for longer periods of time. A rental car can be delivered directly to you and parked in your garage. You can then install the car seat once and use it for the remainder of the rental period (say, a weekend). You can then uninstall the car seat and return the car. No big hassle. Kind of like, well, owning a car. Car ownership definitely has its perks (but at a high cost).

So riddle me this: hypothetically, if you have a baby and no car, how would you get around Seattle? I’ll buy a pint for anyone who can give me an executable solution. Wow, I do sound like a programmer.

7 Comments so far

  1. asshole (unregistered) on October 20th, 2006 @ 1:14 am

    buy a fucking car

  2. Tony B. (unregistered) on October 20th, 2006 @ 8:03 am

    I would suggest also buying a car. Just go get a Kia or a Hyundai. You can get one on the cheap and they come with these outrageous warranties. It’s not like we live in NY where you have to pay for a garage for your car. Our streets are still safe enough to park a car on the street for long periods of time with little cause for worry. It’s really the best solution for new parents. You need to have a reliable way to get to the doctor, hospital, grandma’s, etc. To me it’s more about the kid’s safety than about your convenience.

  3. John (unregistered) on October 20th, 2006 @ 9:02 am

    While I partially agree with buying a car, especially for lots of the reasons Tony gave (the pure convenience of needing to get places in semi-emergencies,) if Flexcar is still one of the options, for the early years, look for a car seat that is also a baby carrier. For the later years, … actually, I’m coming up blank. I can’t seem to find a combo stroller/carseat or backpack/carseat. I feel defeated.

  4. Matt Westervelt (unregistered) on October 20th, 2006 @ 9:09 am

    Non-Hypothetically, we have a baby and no car.

    And a 3 flight walk-up.

    We have a ‘sitnstroll’ car seat / stroller / flightseat dealibob. It works pretty good when we need to ride in someone’s car or cabs, and it’s awesome on vacation. You will want to pick up a dedicated stroller for walks with no chance of driving (neighborhood wanders, park, etc.).

    The “buy a car” people would probably suggest you move to the suburbs too.

    You can buy me that Pint at the Joe Bar.

  5. Aaron O. (unregistered) on October 20th, 2006 @ 11:31 am

    Matt, that just may be the holy grail. I’ll do some more research and email you about that pint (and maybe a demo). :)

    Babies R Us

  6. susie (unregistered) on October 20th, 2006 @ 12:07 pm

    look into getting a sit and stroll. it’s a great stoller – you can collapse the wheels under it, and the steering handle slides behind it, and very easily it becomes a car seat. your baby fell asleep in the car? you don’t have to wake him/her up getting out of the car seat and into the stroller, cause it’s the same. just take the car seat out of the car and convert it to a stroller with your child still in it. we took our daughter all over europe in it…it fits faa regulations on planes, so you’ve solved the stroller/car seat hassle inherent in out of town travel. it also works as a booster seat in a restaurant. it’s sleek and small, so you can negotiate tight places a lot easier than normal strollers.

  7. jeffy (unregistered) on October 20th, 2006 @ 2:21 pm

    The Peapod bike seat will tote your kid once she hits 20 pounds until he gets up to 55 pounds. Or you could just get the Xtracycle attachment for your bike and toss the kid in the side loader like Derek in Olympia did.

    Also for bigger kids there’s the companion carrier John Speare in Spokane has on his wife’s bike.

    I haven’t tried any of these personally since I’m kid-free as well as car-free ;-)

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