London commuters lack common courtesy, according to a woman who pretended to be pregnant for a study testing people’s reactions.
Georgina Kotjan, a student researcher at the University of Westminster, travelled around for 10 hours on the Tube and Overground – during which time only 20 polite people offered her their seat, despite Georgina wearing a ‘Baby on Board’ badge.
Prior to her study, she carried out a survey of 100 Londoners on social media and at Underground stations, asking them if they generally give up their seats on public transport to pregnant women. Every single one of them said yes.
However, when it came to putting the theory to the test, Georgina encountered a completely different outcome.
She said: “I took several Tube journeys as a pregnant woman with a ‘Baby on Board’ badge to test people’s politeness. The result was shocking and it made me decide I never want to be a pregnant woman in London.
“I was surrounded by hundreds of people on my journeys but most of them were too busy with their phones and papers and it took me more than 10 hours of travelling to gather a hundred people who actually noticed me.
“I gave a card to people who offered their seats, saying ‘Congratulations! You’ve offered your seat to a pregnant woman’. Unsuccessful people got ‘You didn’t pass the test’.
“The reactions were diverse; people got either ashamed or angry and did not want to comment on the situation.”
Georgina, who comes from Hungary, went on: “I have been living in London for two and a half years and it was not difficult to notice that Tube and bus journeys are nightmares for pregnant ladies.
“It is common courtesy for me no matter how tired, sick or busy I am. The health of young mums-to-be is being put at risk because of people’s carelessness.
“TfL has done its best by introducing priority seats and free ‘Baby on Board’ badges. Now, Londoners need to open their eyes and change their attitude.”
Transport for London says on its website it understands asking for a seat on the Tube can be difficult for mums-to-be.
But passengers are more likely to see pregnant women may need a seat if they are wearing a Baby on Board badge, it claims.
The badges aim to combat any awkwardness that may be felt when asking someone to give up their seat. It also lets passengers in priority seats know when they should give them up.
Badges can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and address.
Being honest, how likely are you to offer up your seat to a pregnant woman on a crowded train or bus? What about when you see a mother holding a small child, an elderly person struggling to stand or anyone else who’s obviously in need of a sit-down?
Are Georgina’s findings showing the majority of commuters being too indifferent or rude to give up their seat typical in your experience?
Other than seat manners, are there other areas of public transport travel where you think people should show more courtesy?
Add your comments below.